With the VAIO VGN-B100B, Sony presents a nicely packaged thin-and-light with mobile businesspeople in mind. At 5.1 pounds (5.8 pounds with its small AC adapter), it's heavier than the and the featherweight , but it's lighter than the and certainly portable enough for daily travelers. The VAIO VGN-B100B02 runs 12.6 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and 1.3 inches thick up front (though it's 1.9 inches thick at the hinge, giving it something of a big butt).
As with most things Sony, the VAIO VGN-B100B02 is well designed; we particularly like the clever cut-outs on either side that protect its ports. The firm and responsive keyboard has comfortable, well-sized keys and a good spacebar. Connectivity options include a 100Mbps Ethernet port, a V.92 modem, and an Intel Prio/Wireless 2200b/g Wi-Fi radio that has a middling indoor range of 95 feet. Unlike the TravelMate 3200, the VAIO VGN-B100B02 has no internal Bluetooth radio, but all of the essential ports are present, including a pair for USB 2.0, one for FireWire (a.k.a. Sony's iLink), microphone and headphone jacks, and a Type II PC Card slot. The Memory Stick Pro card reader is a nice touch, but we wish Sony would get onboard already with the more popular Secure Digital standard.
Our midrange test unit, priced somewhat high at $1,699 (as of January 2005), was equipped with a decent set of components for business use, including a 1.5GHz Pentium M processor, a 14.1-inch XGA display, 512MB of 333MHz RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a combo DVD/CD-RW drive. Sony offers a range of configuration options, priced from $1,149 to $2,900.
Even with a middle-of-the-road speed Pentium M processor, the VAIO VGN-B100B02 proved a good performer in CNET Labs' tests. It sped past the similarly equipped and came in just behind the TravelMate 3200, which has a faster processor. Unfortunately, equipped with a 4,400mAh battery, the VAIO VGN-B100B02 lasted for a barely passable 2 hours, 55 minutes in our drain tests--a half-hour short of the TravelMate 3200 and more than an hour and a half less than the ThinkPad R51.
Securitywise, the VAIO VGN-B100B02 lacks both the ThinkPad T42's fingerprint scanner and the digital combination lock. It does come with Norton Internet Security software, however, plus Windows XP Pro and a bundle of Sony utilities for setting up a wireless connection, managing power, and updating system software.
Sony backs the VAIO VGN-B100B02 with an industry-standard one-year warranty. If you travel overseas often, we recommend paying $49 for the international coverage. Upgrading to the corporate gold standard of three years of coverage costs $249--about a hundred dollars more than what many other vendors charge for three-year business warranties. Sony's Web site offers a wide assortment of support services, including tutorials, a thorough knowledge base, FAQs, software updates, and manual downloads. In our test call to Sony's 24/7 support hotline, a human came on the line after only 45 seconds and correctly answered our question. You can also send e-mail or have an online chat with a technician.
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating|
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes|
Windows XP Professional; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Mobility Radeon 9700 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 60GB 4,200rpm
IBM ThinkPad R51
Windows XP Professional; 1.5GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Fujitsu MHT2040HT 40GB 4,200rpm
Windows XP Professional; 1.5GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME 64MB; IBM Travelstar 80GN 60GB 4,200rpm