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First Look: Sony Vaio FW480J/T

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First Look: Sony Vaio FW480J/T

3:28 /

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.

>> Hi, I'm Scott Stein, Senior Associate Editor at CNET.com. And this is the Sony VAIO FW 480JT laptop. It's a retail configuration that's available at Best Buy. And we're covering it as part of an all-around lineup of laptops for our back-to-school special. Now, what makes this machine interesting is that it plays Blu-ray discs and it has a pretty wide 16.4-inch screen. For 1199, you're also getting some pretty decent core to duo graphics. And you're also getting an ATI Radeon card with about 512 megabytes of dedicated video memory. So it can play games, and it's pretty good at playing movies, too. And the design is pretty nice. Sony VAIOs always have a pretty nice slick look to them. And this one, with its chocolate brown exterior and black interior, has almost type of a MacBook look to it. It also has a raised keyboard, which is pretty common across a wide variety of laptops now, especially the Sony VAIO's. The computer weighs over six pounds, so it's a little heavy. However, it feels nice, and will pack up pretty flat. The track pad feels comfortable. Smooth, standard track pad. Nothing tremendously unique. Good click to the buttons. And the keyboard has a nice feel, too. Now, Sony also packages their VAIO laptops with a suite of proprietary video and music software, a music box which selects tunes for you. And it also has sort of a Playstation-like media launching bar, which can be an alternative to Windows Media Center. The FW 480JT comes with 400 gigabytes on the hard drive and 6 gigs of DDR2 ram, which is pretty beefy, and a nice option for a machine in this price. Ports are also pretty decent. There's an HDMI port on the side. There also happens to be a mini-FireWire port. And there are three USB ports. There's also a memory card slot in addition to a slot for Sony's proprietary memory stick media. Folded over here, you can see that actually the charging and the power button are inside the hinge. Charging happens over here. And there's a glowing power button on the side here, which happens to pulse in a pleasing little color tone when it's charging or when it's in sleep mode. For controlling the media functions, there's no light-up back lit bar here like on a lot of multimedia laptops. Instead, there's a series of dedicated black buttons that are pretty understated at the top here, right by the speakers. The internal speakers, while not being a full 5.1 speaker set, has a pretty nice sound to them. And they sound loud enough and crisp enough to be able to enjoy your movies pretty well. And we have to compliment Sony. I mean, nobody does Blu-ray better than them. And the discs start up perfectly well. There's instant play of them. And there's no trouble. We had no problem setting up Blu-ray play-it-back whatsoever, which does happen on some laptops. In terms of energy use, the VAIO 480JT also performed really well. It only cost, in our test, about $12 1/2 a year to operate, which was the best among all of the high-end multimedia laptops that we tested in our back-to-school roundup. We liked the VAIO 480JT the best out of all three. And if you see it in a store and you want to get something that plays Blu-ray movies and it can play games and it can be a pretty decent all-around machine, you can't really go that wrong with this machine. I'm Scott Stein, and this is the Sony VAIO FW 480JT laptop.

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