Back-to-school 2009 retail laptop roundup: Sony's Vaio FW480 is our favorite high-end model

In our current roundup of retail-specific laptops, we've divided our 30-plus systems into four different price categories, from sub-$500 entry level models to high-end ones that cost more than $1,000.

In our current roundup of retail-specific laptops, we've divided our 30-plus systems into four different price categories, from sub-$500 entry level models to high-end ones that cost more than $1,000.

In that high-end category, we looked at three laptops from Sony, HP, and Asus. While they were largely similar, Sony's Vaio FW480J/T won us over by including a Blu-ray drive and having the best battery life (although the Asus G71GX-RX05 should be your choice for gaming).

Check out details of each system below:

Sony Vaio FW480J/T *BEST*
The good: Sleek design, seamless Blu-ray functionality, plenty of RAM, good battery life.

The bad: Midlevel discrete graphics, no 1080p screen resolution, no touch-sensitive media controls.

The bottom line: As an above-average Blu-ray-playing laptop with impressive looks and good under-the-hood power, Sony's Vaio FW480J/T is a solid portable multimedia machine.

Read the full review here.

Asus G71GX-RX05
The good: Good components for the price; secondary instant-on Linux OS; separate number pad.

The bad: Big, heavy, and power hungry; mixed performance; lights can't be completely shut off; no dedicated media controls.

The bottom line: The Asus G71GX-RX05 is a solid gaming-oriented desktop replacement, but with a few shortcomings that could make or break a purchasing decision.

Read the full review here.

HP Pavilion dv7-2185DX
The good: Plenty of RAM and a big hard drive; slick, attractive design; discrete graphics; quad-core CPU.

The bad: Screen resolution is low for the price; no Blu-ray drive.

The bottom line: HP makes excellent, slick multimedia machines, such as the Pavilion dv7-2185DX, but we'd still trade its quad-core CPU for a full HD 1080p display and Blu-ray.

Read the full review here.

Check out the rest of the 2009 Back-to-School retail laptop and desktop roundup here.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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