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Sony Vaio VGN-FW41E/H review: Sony Vaio VGN-FW41E/H

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The Good Good all-round performance; large, high-resolution screen; big keyboard.

The Bad The bigger, better VAIO VGN-AW31M/H doesn't cost too much more.

The Bottom Line The price may be high, but the Sony VAIO VGN-FW41E/H is a premium machine, and its performance justifies the outlay. The only snag is that the bigger VAIO VGN-AW31M/H is arguably a better deal if you need a laptop that won't stray far from your desktop

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7.5 Overall

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If you're looking for a high-end desktop-replacement laptop and the Sony Vaio VGN-AW31M/H is too bulky for your liking, the Vaio VGN-FW41E/H may be more up your street. It's essentially a scaled-down version of that 18.4-inch monster, with a lower specification and price, but it's still an impressive lump of laptop. It's available for around £880.

Sexy beast
Sony knows a thing or two about what constitutes a sexy piece of consumer electronics. Its Vaio range has long been considered home to some of the better-looking laptops on the market. The VGN-FW41E/H certainly continues the trend and, as with the bigger VGN-AW31M/H, the usual Vaio design flourishes are all present and correct. The two-tone silver livery with contrasting black base is rather fetching too, and this laptop will look just as at home in a living room as it will on an office desktop.

Widescreen laptops usually afford the fringe benefit of a big keyboard, and the VGN-FW41E/H is no exception. Its full-size keyboard measures 12 inches across, but there's no separate numeric keypad. Since there's a good inch and half of empty space at either side, there's technically room for one, but perhaps Sony didn't want to compromise on the widely spaced layout. The 'chiclet' keys are very comfortable to use, but there's a noticeable amount of flex across the keyboard tray. It's not enough to be a problem, but it's worth mentioning, given the resolutely inflexible keyboard on the VGN-AW31M/H.

At 3.3kg, the VGN-FW41E/H is clearly designed to spend most of its life in one spot, although its 37mm thickness and 16.4-inch screen mean it should easily slip into laptop bags designed for 17-inch machines. Despite being 2 inches smaller diagonally than the VGN-AW31M/H's screen, the VGN-FW41E/H's display still has a comparable resolution of 1,600x900 pixels. This is ideal for working with multiple application windows open, but it also suits high-definition video, as evidenced by the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive.

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