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Sony VAIO UX review: Sony VAIO UX

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We reviewed the Sony VAIO UX50, a Japan-only release that costs $1,699. Clearly you're paying for the petite form factor more than components: the case is stocked with a modest 1.1GHz Intel Core Solo ultra-low-voltage processor; 512MB of slow 400MHz RAM; a tiny 30GB, slow 4,200rpm hard drive; and integrated Intel 945GM Express graphics. Those were enough to help the UX50 outrun the Samsung Q1 on CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, but not on a par with an ultraportable such as the Fujitsu LifeBook P1510D or the 1.2GHz Core Solo-based Gateway NX100X. In short, the UX50's performance should be sufficient for surfing the Web and playing media files, but it definitely isn't enough to replace your laptop.

Like the Samsung Q1, the UX50 is crippled by its poor battery life. We think a mobile device should run for at least 5 hours if it's going to be truly indispensable, but the UX50 lasted just 2 hours, 27 minutes in our battery-drain tests. That's below average for a laptop (even the Q1 lasted 22 minutes longer), and it eliminates the option of making the UX50 your primary computer on the run.

The North American version of this device, the UX180, costs $1,799. The extra $100 gets you the aforementioned WWAN connectivity and a slightly faster 1.2GHz Core Solo processor; otherwise the UX180's specs are the same as the Japanese model's, and we expect it will have similar performance and battery life. The UX180 is available for preorder on Sony's Web site, with an anticipated shipping date of July 12, 2006.

Sony backs all VAIO UX models with an industry-standard warranty: one year of free service (including free shipping both ways) and 24/7 toll-free telephone tech support; after the year expires, support calls cost $20 per incident. Sony offers an array of warranty extensions; a three-year plan costs $299. The company's Web site provides a good knowledge base and e-mail support from Sony technicians.

Mobile application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2005 performance rating  

Battery life
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2005 battery life in minutes  

System configurations:
Fujitsu P1510D
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M 753 ULV; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM PC3200 400MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Toshiba MK2006GAL 30GB 4200rpm

Gateway NX100X
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo U1400; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz; Intel 945GM Express 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K80 80GB 5,400rpm

Samsung Q1
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005; 900MHz Intel Celeron M353; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz; Mobile Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 40 Go 40GB 4200rpm

Sony VAIO UX50
Windows XP Home; 1.1GHz Intel Core Solo U1300; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; Intel 945GM Express 128MB; Toshiba MK3008GAL 30GB 4,200rpm

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