Measuring 10.5 inches wide, 8 inches deep, and 1.2 inches thick and weighing 3.1 pounds, the VAIO T350P consumes as much bag space as a hardcover book. It's stockier than the Dell Latitude X1, which lacks an integrated optical drive, and a bit slimmer than the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D. Even with its demure 0.72-pound AC adapter, the VAIO T350P won't be an undue burden when standing in airport security lines.
While no ultraportable laptop's keyboard is spacious enough for long typing stints, the VAIO T350P's is particularly small, though you can compose e-mail and surf the Web for a while without cramping your hands. The touch pad is surprisingly large for an ultraportable, though the mouse buttons are on the small side. A useful wireless on/off switch sits on the laptop's front edge, next to volume up, down, and mute buttons. The rounded screen hinge contains five additional buttons for controlling playback from the integrated DVD drive. The DVD buttons are accessible even while the lid is closed, letting you manipulate DVD play when the VAIO T350P is hooked up to an external monitor. We wish you could connect the laptop to a TV as well, but the notebook lacks the requisite S-Video-out port. It does, however, offer a sufficient connector selection. You get FireWire, VGA, and two USB 2.0 ports; headphone, microphone, 56Kbps modem, and 10/100 Ethernet jacks; one Type II PC Card slot; and a flash memory card slot that unfortunately supports only Sony's Memory Sticks.
The VAIO T350P's most intriguing feature is the unobtrusive cellular antenna attached to the right side of the display. After signing up with Cingular's Laptop Connect program, you can use the VAIO T350P to send data through the EDGE GPRS cellular network--a particularly handy feature if your travels take you to places that lack Wi-Fi access. The convenient Connection Manager utility shows a signal-strength meter and lets you establish connectivity settings, including a VPN pass-through and specific profiles for your frequent haunts. The big downside is the plan's exorbitant monthly cost, which starts at $20 for a scant 5MB of data transfer and ends at $80 for unlimited data transfer. Unlike most Wi-Fi hot spots, Cingular doesn't offer a cheaper alternative to users who want one-time access to the cell network. Another drawback is slow data transfer speeds: in our anecdotal tests using the CNET Bandwidth Meter at various locations around the San Francisco Bay Area, we never achieved a transfer speed faster than 445Kbps, which pales in comparison to the average 11Mbps speeds of the slowest Wi-Fi networks. One final beef: the antenna would be less susceptible to damage were it integrated into the case itself.
Sony sells the VAIO T350P in preconfigured versions only. You can pick one up on the Sony Web site, at dozens of online resellers, and at local computer stores. CNET's VAIO T350P series review lists the particulars of the different available configurations.
Our midnight-blue VAIO T350P test unit cost $2,300 (as of May 2005)--a high price to pay for several average components. The unit included an ultra-low-voltage, 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M 753 processor; 512MB of slow 266MHz memory; a cost-cutting Intel 855 GME chipset with an integrated graphics subsystem that borrows up to 64MB of VRAM from main memory; a small, 10.6-inch display with a fairly fine 1,280x768 native resolution; a midsize, 60GB hard drive spinning at a sluggish 4,200rpm; and a standard Intel 802.11b/g Wi-Fi card. This generally average lot does include a few standout components, such as the cellular antenna discussed above, integrated Bluetooth, and a built-in, multiformat DVD burner.
In CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, our VAIO T350P ran neck and neck with the older-generation VAIO T150 and the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D--both of which carried a 1.1GHz Pentium M processor. However, the 1.1GHz Pentium M-based Dell Latitude X1 performed a bit faster than all three. The VAIO T350P's battery lasted for a fantastic six hours in our Labs' drain tests, compared to the three hours of the Latitude X1's much smaller battery and the five hours of the LifeBook P7010D's only slightly smaller cell.
Our test unit shipped with Microsoft's Windows XP Professional OS and Works 8.0 mini office suite. Of course, it wouldn't be a Sony without a slew of the company's multimedia applications in the mix. The long list includes DVD creation and editing titles such as Click To DVD and DVGate Plus; music mastering and organizing apps such as SonicStage Mastering Studio; and image editing through PictureGear Studio. We also appreciate the laptop's SmartWi software utility, which lets you toggle between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular connectivity by clicking an onscreen button.
Though more and more corporate notebook manufacturers have begun to standardize on a three-year warranty, the VAIO T350P ships with only a single year of return-to-depot service. Unfortunately, toll-free phone support lasts for a mere year as well. You can extend the warranty and phone support with a number of options, such as a four-year term for both. As usual, Sony's subpar support Web site lacks any specific FAQ on the VAIO T350P, nor does it offer the helpful user forums and chatting features found on many other manufacturers' support sites.
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating|
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes|
Dell Latitude X1
Windows XP Professional; 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M 733; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Toshiba MK6006GAH 60GB 4,200rpm
Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D
Windows XP Professional; 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 82855GM Extreme Graphics Controller 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm
Sony VAIO VGN-T150 P/L
Windows XP Professional; 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M ULV 733; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel Extreme Graphics 2 For Mobile (up to 64MB); Toshiba MK2004GAH 40GB 4,200rpm
Sony VAIO VGN-T350
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M 753; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 855GME Graphics Controller up to 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 60GB 4,200rpm