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Sony VAIO PCG-GR390

/ Updated: May 9, 2003 10:33 PM PDT
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(3/22/02; updated 6/18/02)

Editors' note: After announcing the GR series, Sony put it on hiatus. To see a review of a desktop replacement notebook similar to the one detailed in this First Take, go to the review.

Sony's new VAIO PCG-GR390 is a laptop fit for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This desktop replacement's design is at once plain and cutting-edge, lacking many of today's standard usability frills such as quick-launch buttons, while including Sony's unique scroll wheel and Memory Stick slot. The system's spec list, however, reads like a royal pedigree.

Flashy specs; basic design
The VAIO PCG-GR390's features are flashier than its sober dressing would suggest. Spec highlights include a big, 15.1-inch, active-matrix screen; a modular DVD/CD-RW drive; an IEEE 1394 port; a 1.2GHz mobile Pentium III-M processor; a whopping 512MB of memory; and a speedy 16MB ATI Mobility Radeon graphics chip. We expect the latter trio to make an impressive showing in CNET Labs' upcoming benchmarks. The system's fairly sizable lithium-ion battery should also fare well in our Labs' battery-drain tests.

Sony went with a less-is-more approach when designing the VAIO PCG-GR390's 1.5-by-12.8-by-10.6-inch chassis. Open the system's lid, and you're greeted by a pretty basic layout consisting of a keyboard, a touchpad, and two mouse buttons. But Sony has thrown a couple of interesting curves into the mix. Beneath the mouse buttons sits a scroll wheel that you use to roll up and down through an onscreen program menu; once you land on the app you want, press the scroll wheel once to launch the program. The wheel also lets you scroll through commands in each app. A Back button next to the wheel adds to the convenience by taking you back a step in your commands each time you press it.

Spotlight on multimedia
Sony has outfitted the VAIO PCG-GR390 pretty well for multimedia use. The system ships with several respectable audio and video apps, including SonicStage and DV Gate Motion. It also includes a surprisingly sharp-sounding pair of speakers. For multimedia paradise, however, a system such as the PCG-GR390 should also have a hardware volume control and dedicated CD buttons.

The VAIO PCG-GR390 is off to an overall solid start, but a trip through CNET Labs will reveal this notebook's true colors. Check back in the coming weeks for our full review and find out whether the system retains its sure footing.

Discuss Sony VAIO PCG-GR390

Where to Buy

Sony VAIO PCG-GR390

Part Number: PCGGR390

Visit manufacturer site for details.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Type Pentium III-M
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Edition Windows XP Home Edition
  • Capacity 30 GB
  • Diagonal Size 15 in