Sony Vaio VGN-AR51SU review: Sony Vaio VGN-AR51SU

The Good Sleek looks; large, HD display; extreme performance.

The Bad Heavy; poor battery life; expensive.

The Bottom Line The Sony Vaio VGN-AR51SU isn't cheap, but provided you're not planning on transporting it too far, it won't disappoint. Its performance, even with 3D gaming, rivals that of some desktop machines

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8.3 Overall

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Desktop replacements don't need to be ugly or unstylish, as Sony elegantly demonstrates with the Vaio VGN-AR51SU.

It may be big, but it's not ungainly and it makes the most of its increased footprint by packing in a full HD display, an immense amount of storage and a fast processor. All this will cost you though -- around £2,000.

Despite its colossal size, Sony has managed to prevent the AR51SU looking like some uncouth heaving brute by adding a sleek silver band around its middle, that pleasantly tapers away at the back and means your eyes aren't drawn to its sheer size.

It also makes incredibly good use of the increased surface area to pack in a gorgeous 17-inch glossy X-black screen which offers intense colours and great contrast, although at the expense of reflectivity, so you'll need to position it where there are no bright lights behind you. The screen has a native resolution of 1,920x1,200 pixels, giving it enough pixels to display full 1080p video, so you'll get the full benefit of watching movies from the Blu-ray drive. Or at least you will in theory as the bundled WinDVD BD software proved a little unstable under Vista, but this should be fixable with an update.

Its dimensions aren't the only thing big about the AR51SU, either. Inside, there are two 250GB drives, giving you half a terabyte of storage space accessible as a single volume thanks to built-in RAID support.

Performance is another area where it asserts its stature -- its 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 processor and 2GB of RAM managed to tot up a final score of 5,398 in PCMark05, which is nothing short of amazing for a laptop.

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