Sony VAIO V505 review: Sony VAIO V505

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Battery life: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Cool case design; long battery life; lots of ports and slots; integrated 802.11b/g wireless; built-in DVD-RW drive.

The Bad Mediocre performance; media bay is not swappable.

The Bottom Line The great-looking, versatile Sony VAIO V505 is a top thin-and-light for work or play, although it's not the fastest on the block.

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summary

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and cool-looking Sony VAIOs. The Sony VAIO V505 is no exception, sporting the trademark purplish-gray, magnesium-alloy case of most VAIOs, along with just the right combination of ports and slots. It also offers integrated 802.11b/g wireless and your choice of built-in DVD/CD-RW or DVD-RW drives. The Sony VAIO V505 laptop's performance is less impressive, but it's sufficient for basic tasks, such as Web surfing and e-mail. While we're not thrilled about its one-year warranty, you should give the Sony VAIO V505 serious consideration if you're shopping for a thin-and-light laptop.

The makers of thin-and-light laptops would do well to emulate the Sony VAIO V505's design. The demure, 1.4-by-10.9-by-9.5-inch case weighs a modest 4.4 pounds, petite for a thin-and-light, yet it includes a healthy selection of features. For starters, the keyboard is wide enough not to cramp your fingers. The touchpad and the two rectangular mouse buttons are also sufficiently large. The 12.1-inch screen with a 1,024x768 native resolution isn't gigantic, but it's big enough to gaze at for hours.

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The touchpad and the two mouse buttons are sufficiently large. The keyboard is wide enough not to cramp your fingers.

Sony lines the sides of the Sony VAIO V505 with a balanced assortment of ports, slots, and buttons. The front edge offers a handy on/off button for the integrated 802.11b/g wireless hardware, which lets you conserve battery life by easily turning wireless off when you're not using it. (You can also use Windows XP's software controls to switch off wireless networking.) On the right edge are a 56Kbps modem and Ethernet jacks, along with a Memory Stick slot and one USB 2.0 port. Another USB 2.0 port sits on the opposite edge, joined by FireWire, VGA, headphone, and microphone ports, plus one Type II PC Card slot.

When you order the Sony VAIO V505, you can fill its single internal bay with either a DVD/CD-RW combo drive or a DVD-RW drive. On one hand, we wish the DVD-rewritable drive also supported the DVD+RW standard, like the dual-format DVD+RW drive in the Sony VAIO GRT series does. On the other hand, it's great that a notebook this small has a DVD burner at all. Whichever drive you choose for the Sony VAIO V505, make sure your mind is made up, because unfortunately, the bay is fixed--that is, you can't swap out the drive later to insert another module.

The Sony VAIO V505's long list of available specs (some fixed, some configurable) speaks to everyone from speed fiends to budget hounds. You can buy the system with a Pentium M, Pentium 4-M, or mobile Celeron processor rated anywhere from 1.2GHz to 2.4GHz. Main DDR SDRAM memory runs at a fast 333MHz and comes in increments ranging from 256MB to 2GB. Hard drives measure 40GB, 60GB, or 80GB, but all offer the same average 4,200rpm speed. Two secondary storage drives are available: a DVD/CD-RW combo and a DVD-RW.

A few of the Sony VAIO V505's components are the same for every model in the series. All configurations include a solid, if not sizzling, 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics chip and a bright 12.1-inch display with a 1,024x768 native resolution. If you order your laptop with internal wireless, you'll get an Intel Pro/wireless 2200 802.11b/g mini-PCI card.

The Sony VAIO V505 comes with various music, photo, and video applications. Highlights include several Sony apps, such as DVGate Plus, for importing video from a digital video (DV) camera, then editing and saving the streams to your system or to a disc; PictureGear Studio, for arranging pictures in online photo albums, on digital postcards, and more; and SonicStage, for splicing together music clips. For more cash, Sony will preinstall Adobe Photoshop and Premiere . You can choose either Windows XP Home or XP Professional as the operating system, and office suite options include Microsoft Office Small Business and Standard Editions, as well as the pared-down Works 7.0 minisuite.

The Sony VAIO V505 finished second in mobile performance in CNET Labs' small test group. The laptop scored 17 percent higher than the Toshiba Satellite M30-M35 series, which uses Toshiba's Power Saver utility to save battery life by throttling its CPU to very low levels. Unfortunately, Sony's own CPU throttling allowed the Dell Inspiron 500m to best the Sony by 10 percent. The Sony VAIO V505's score of 124 in MobileMark is about 14 percent lower than the average score we've seen from Pentium M-1.4GHz-based systems in the past, which means that mobile performance is not the Sony's strongest suit.

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 500m
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); Hitachi DK23EA-30 30GB 4,200rpm

Sony VAIO PCG-V505DX
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite M30-M35
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 32MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

The Sony VAIO V505 held a commanding lead in battery life, thanks not only to its 11.1V, 4,400mAh (49WHr) battery, but also to the laptop's CPU throttling. This throttling resulted in uninspired performance but made it possible for the Sony VAIO V505 to run for nearly four hours. The Dell Inspiron 500m, which performed the best in mobile performance, lasted almost three and a half hours on its 11.1V, 4,320mAh (48WHr) battery. The Toshiba Satellite M30-M35, with its 10.8V, 4,400mAh (48WHr) battery, came in last place in battery life, lasting a little more than three hours. With the V505, Sony chose battery life over mobile performance; given the demands of thin-and-light users, this was a wise choice.

Battery life analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark 2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 500m
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); Hitachi DK23EA-30 30GB 4,200rpm

Sony VAIO PCG-V505DX
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite M30-M35
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 32MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

You won't swoon over Sony's average one-year warranty on parts and labor with return-to-depot service, but it's not the worst warranty you can get, either. You can pay $200 to tack on another two years to the policy. You're also eligible for free, around-the-clock telephone support for the duration of your policy.

The Sony VAIO V505's user manual provides a lot of help on important topics ranging from connecting to a wireless network to adding more memory. Sony's support Web site also offers a large cache of online tutorials, although most deal with using the features in Windows XP, as opposed to Sony VAIO V505 hardware.

To find out more about how this product's warranty really stacks up and what you should look for in terms of service and support, take a look at CNET's hardware warranty explainer.

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Where to Buy

Sony VAIO V505 series

Part Number: CTO-V04SP1NB-C Released: Feb. 3, 2004

Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications

  • Release date Feb. 3, 2004