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Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ

by westchestertp / August 1, 2004 9:53 AM PDT

I am purchasing my first notebook (company always supplied them in the past), and am trying to narrow down my options. Weight is a big consideration as I travel almost every week and am fairly petite. I mainly use my laptop for email, Microsoft Office, web-based contact management software, and watching DVD movies on airplanes. I will be using wireless hotspots regularly.

I am considering the following, but don't know if the price difference to get the Sony Vaio is worthwhile:

1. Sony Vaio PCG-TR3A - I can get it for $1,899 less a $150 mail in rebate on I believe this notebook comes with Pentium M (Centrino) 1.0 GHz; 512 memory; 40 GB hard drive; CDRW/DVD-ROM; 802.11b/g. Not sure how much it weighs, but I believe it is under 4.5lbs.

2. Best Buy is advertising a Gateway 4520GZ notebook for $1,249.99 with Intel Pentium M (Centrino) 705; 1.5 GHz; 512 MB membory; 60 GB hard drive; CDRW/DVD-ROM; 802.11g wireless LAN. Weighs 5.5 lbs and just over 1" thick.

It seems to me that the Gateway has everything the Sony Vaio has, but it weighs about a pound more. Does the Sony Vaio have anything I'm not seeing, or would I be paying an extra $400 to save 1 pound in weight?

Any recommendations/suggestions would be very welcome!


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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 1, 2004 10:11 AM PDT

Look what Sony did to Sony Clie owners in N.A. They closed off the developer information as well.


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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by westchestertp / August 2, 2004 1:24 AM PDT

Is there another notebook that is in a similar price range ($1,300 - $1,650) that anyone recommends other than the Gateway 4520GZ, since Sony is not recommended? Or should I just go ahead and get the Gateway? It seems so much less than others with the same features that I am wondering whether I'm missing something.

Thanks in advance for the advice!


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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by KenSanramon / August 2, 2004 4:49 AM PDT

Sony is always the most expensive and you are paying for the appearance and the 'cachet' of the notebook not the performance. Toshiba has a comparable notebook in most of the lines that are $2,000 and under that will beat it for price and features (look at Toshiba Techra line if you want a 14.1" LCD or smaller) versus the Sony.

You have not specified the LCD size you prefer. Gateways are ok but there are better choices (and they recently closed all their retail stores so Best Buy is selling off their excess inventory in their stores). Gateway will continue selling computers online and in select stores.

The 1.0 Pentium M is way too slow anyway. You are comparing a 1.0 Pentium M to a 1.5 Pentium M ?? No way, that is a huge performance difference (moving up .5 a mhz not just .1 or .2).

However, even the 705 Pentium M you are looking at in the Gateway is the older Banias Pentium M with 1mb L2 system cache. A 715 1.5 Pentium M, a 725 1.6 Pentium M and a 735 1.7 Pentium M are all not much higher in price (especially if you order custom online from Toshiba, HP/Compaq, or Dell) and you can also adjust other notebook components (video memory, hard drive capacity and speed, etc.) as you like.

It you insist on one or the other, however, at least the Gateway has the 1.5 Banias and you are not paying the price penalty by going Sony (and they are not any better reliability wise either unlike Apple).

Circuit City carries a Toshiba Techra model (14.1 LCD) and they also carry the excellent Toshiba M35S456 15.4" widescreen and Compaq X1480/ HPZT3380 sisters (part of X1000 and ZT3000 family -- I have one of these).

But it sounds like you want a smaller and lighter machine than a 15.4" LCD (those way 6.2 - 6.5 pounds for the 2 above). The 14.1" IBMS or Toshiba Techra would be 5.5 pounds or lower.

If you really want a smaller LCD and weight than 14.1" you should seriously look at the 12.1" Apple powerbook or 14.1" Apple powerbook.

Fujitsu (sold at Frys Electronics or online) well a 13.3" LCD notebook.

Try going to and specify Pentium M (Centrino) for the filter (for cpu type) in the search for notebooks field. That will bring up about 7-8 models that have the Pentium M including the Compaq X1480 and the HPZT3380. The Sony I think you are looking at is also there for over $1,000 and has only a 10.6" LCD -- if you really want a notebook that small you may only be able to find what you want with an Apple or Sony but keep in mind getting smaller than a 13.3" LCD will make an extremely tight keyboard (that will not perform as well as especially a 14.1" or higher) and there will be other drawbacks.

This small of a notebook is mostly for frequent airplane travelers but that is perhaps what you are looking for.............

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by KenSanramon / August 2, 2004 8:10 AM PDT


Also read the brand new review for the Dell 700M -- that is in the weight classification you have specified (under 5 pounds) and it has the new Dothan Pentium M processors (725 Pentium 1.6 and above). Also, IBM very competitive notebook models in the smaller screen sizes so check them out as well.

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by Critter_97 / August 2, 2004 11:28 AM PDT

The IBM X series weighs very little and IBM makes great laptops. I don't care for the small 12.1 inch XGA screen. They also make the T series which is about 4.5 lbs and has a 14.1 inch or larger screen. I use that one and am very happy.

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by westchestertp / August 3, 2004 1:23 AM PDT

Thank you for your suggestions, everyone. I took a look at all the notebooks you suggested, and I think I'm going to go with the Fujitsu 171 at Fry's. It came down to that and the Dell 700M, however, I would have to wait until almost mid-September to receive the Dell, so I think I'll go for the Fujitsu.

Thanks again for helping this newbie!

~ Theresa

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by KenSanramon / August 3, 2004 4:36 AM PDT


I have read some positive things about Fujistu (most are supposedly still made in Japan) but there is one issue:

Some of the Fujitsus at Fry's only have integrated video memory (Intel extreme graphics chip on motherboard). This means it takes some of the memory from your RAM (called shared video memory) so even if you have 512mb if the video uses 64 you actually only have 512 - 64 = 448mb available.

You may want to compare to other notebooks that have either 32mb dedicated or 64mb dedicated video memory (have a video card by ATI or Nvidia).

However, if you won't be playing games or using intense graphical programs (like photoshop or autocad) and your notebook if mainly for business use then the integrated video is probably ok for you.

Note, however, that you CANNOT upgrade the video memory or type later (as you can with RAM, hard drive, even the cpu in some cases) so make sure it fits your needs now.

Doom 3 just came out for example and people that don't have a notebook with 64mb dedicated or 128mb dedicated video are not happy campers.

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by unknownkw / August 2, 2004 5:53 PM PDT

The sony TR3A one is an extreme ultraportable that weights only 3.11 pounds. But with it's cramped keyboard it won't be a pleasure to type anything. It was designed just like a portable DVD player.

Personally I'd recommand Toshiba Portege M100 for you.

Configuration (PPM10L-0002U/006D2)
Intel? Centrino(TM) mobile technology w/ Intel? Pentium? M processor LV 1.2GHz, Windows? XP Professional, 256MB, 40GB, CDRW/DVD-ROM, 12.1" Polysilicon TFT, integrated Wi-Fi, i.LINK (IEEE 1394), up to 8.6H, configurable from 1.8kg, 3-year ILW

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by Element / August 3, 2004 7:41 AM PDT

I would recommend the Sony, only because I have heard that Gateway uses generic parts in there computers just as eMachines which they bought. I have a Sony Vaio myself and it is great.

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by TeckBrain / August 4, 2004 5:37 AM PDT

I would go with the Gateway.
The battery life would probably differ 20 minuets from the sony model.
However, the extra speed and hard drive space will serve for the future.
However, if you plan to get one within the next 6+ years, go with the sony viao. Sony's laptops have a nice look and seem to be sturdy.

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by Lynn Slater / September 7, 2004 1:49 AM PDT

The 4520gz notebook itself is truly nice. Very light and thin, easy to read, keyboard and pointer are ergonomic, does not generate excess heat, and the battery seems to last 5+ hours. The 4525gz is similar with additional storage.

The bad side is that the support for the notebook is essentially non-existent and nobody except an expert should buy this product. The first bad sign is that gateway's site suggests that "For personalized support enter your serial number", but it will not accept the serial numbers from this product. When you go to the FAQ it will answer silly questions like how to change the battery but has no information on substantial subjects such as wireless configuration. (The Intel wireless software as installed out of the box complains that it is misconfigured.) There is almost no other information except for these useless FAQs. You can search but the search includes sources such as the Microsoft knowledge base and the search engine does not allow much filtering, so any search seems to end up with hundreds to thousands of results, of which one or two might be relevant. Gateway will gladly charge you for answers ? the only free contact you have is with a sales rep. They provide bad free information and charge for answers ? this is not a company I?d choose to deal with and I regret not checking this before purchasing.

Net: Avoid this product until Gateway decides to better support it. Check for yourself -- go to the gateway site, look up this product by its model number, and try to find information on something like wireless operations.

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by KenSanramon / September 7, 2004 3:54 AM PDT

Somehow Gateway came up #2 to IBM in PC the recent PCmagazine survey for service (Apple was not included or it would be at or near the top) and Sony was dead last in desktops and notebooks.

Yes, with the restructuring of Gateway (and merger with E-machines) things are more uncertain with that company at least in the short run (E-machines came in #2 in desktop service as well).

But Sony is dead last and nothing is worse then overpaying for a product and getting the worst service.

So, right now, IBM is tops if what they have suits you or Dell, HP/Compaq, and Toshiba are tightly bunched in their scores (not great but in middle) with Sony over 1 full point below these 3.

Smaller US operations like Fujitsu, Acer, etc. were not in this survey.

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Re: Sony Vaio vs. Gateway 4520GZ
by cindiesue / September 7, 2004 11:49 AM PDT

I'm not a moderator or a professional tech person, just a satisfied Vaio customer. I purchased one of first in the Sony Vaio Notebook seriea GCG SRx99. It costs me $1500 plus extened warranty (you must must must get that) I simply love it. I think the prices have come down in two years. I travel abroad and it is so small and light I treat it as my Ipod and photo book.
When you sit in the plane seat you can open it up all the way. Others you can not open it because it is too cramped and you must put your laptop in your lap and you still can't open it all the way if someone is leaning back in front of you.

My notebook is 2.5 lbs!!

With it so small your DVD-CD is an external unit, but who really needs it all the time.

It did not come with a fire wire connection, but the new ones do.

I know that after two years the newer notebooks the LCD is better and the battery life has been improved.

My issues of importance is: 1)service 2) weight 3) connectivity (to be able to use a card with 6 USB slots for printers, mouse, etc) 4)compatability with my digital camera 5) Hard drive space.

Price was not an issue. That should be your last worry as this investment should be your last for a long time if you get a durable one that you know you can upgrade later on.

This is my two cents about Sony products.

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