Several months ago, one of our favorite retail laptops was the Sony Vaio FW480J/T. Besides offering no-hassle Blu-ray playback and a large if not full-HD 1,600x900-pixel resolution, 16.4-inch screen, it had decent discrete graphics that could handle many mainstream games. At the time, its $1,199 price was a little high, but very good when compared with traditional "gaming" laptops.
Just a few months later, the Sony Vaio FW560F/T has found itself at the top of our Holiday 2009 retail laptop roundup, a high-end system by definition of its price and features. At $999, however, this Vaio slips right under that psychological $1,000 line, while keeping Blu-ray and slightly improving the processor speed--and now it has Windows 7 Home Premium preinstalled instead of Windows Vista.
This has jumped from a good deal to a great deal for anyone looking for a Blu-ray-ready multimedia laptop. The package offered is a big improvement over the Vaio FW351J/H, which cost nearly the same amount of money early this summer.
On the other hand, gaming laptops have changed the landscape recently with the release of the Intel Core i7 processor. High-end laptops have never been faster, and going with a Core 2 Duo is now a significant step down from that new plateau. We can't really call the Vaio FW560F/T a gaming laptop, but it's certainly affordable, and can handle many games better than you think.