Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
Everything about the Sony Vaio NW240F is pretty pleasing. For starters, it looks good and unlike its glossy plastic shelfmates, the textured chassis doesn't feel cheap or end up covered in fingerprints from simply picking it up. It's well configured for general home and office duties and the port assortment is more than just basics. Some might see it as slightly pricey for what you get--similar configurations can be found for less--but the Sony is not what we'd consider overpriced. In the end, the NW240F is just a respectable mainstream notebook with a look and feel above much of its competition, which is worth a few extra dollars to us.
|Price as reviewed||$729.99|
|Processor||2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600|
|Memory||4GB, 800MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel GM45 Express Chipset|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500MHD (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WD)||14.6x9.8 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.5 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.7/6.4 pounds|
The Vaio NW240F we tested has a textured plastic shell with a wenge wood pattern and walnut brown color; the texture is both on the lid and inside on the keyboard tray. The pattern gives it a strange, though not unpleasant feel, and certainly helps it stand out. As does the giant Vaio branding on the lid.
More importantly, the keyboard is the same flat chiclet-style Sony keyboard we've come to know and love. The keys are well spaced with good travel offering up a pleasing typing experience. The touch pad, too, is comfortable; it's amply sized and has a slight texture that seemingly helps keep your finger moving smoothly.
Though the Vaio NW240F's keyboard tray leaves plenty of room for multimedia control keys, you won't find any here with the exception of a mute key and another for shutting off the display. The AV Mode button that we've found on previous Vaio models is now a Web button that launches a Splashtop browser so you can quickly access Web sites without booting into Windows. The Display Off button comes in handy for when you've connected to an external display through the VGA or HDMI outputs as well as if you're doing some late-night downloading and don't want the screen to disturb your sleep. The Mute button, by the way, can be reprogrammed to do other things like launch an application or instantly maximize screen brightness.
The 15.4-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. We found the display to be crisp and vivid; movies and photos showed accurate colors, crisp edges, and smooth movement. In anecdotal testing, we found it to be less bright than other laptops, but at max brightness, the image looked fine under a variety of conditions. It features a glossy screen coating, but it wasn't as prone to glare and reflections as other glossy screens we've seen. And, it offers a reasonably wide viewing angle. Above the screen is a serviceable Webcam and mic, which performed well in our informal Skype tests.
A laptop's integrated stereo speakers will never fill a room to a pleasing degree, but the Vaio NW240F's get respectably loud. However, they're lacking in bass and sound tinny at maximum volume.
|Sony Vaio VGN-NW240F||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card and Memory Stick readers||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The ports and connections selection for the NW240F is above average for its class. The ExpressCard slot is especially appreciated and, though it's a rarity on new devices these days, it's nice that there's a FireWire port. About the only thing we wish was present is built-in Bluetooth for connecting to a mouse or headset.
The NW240F is a fixed configuration so what you see is what you get. The memory can be easily expanded up to 8GB after purchase, though. Other NW-series models do exist, including a $929.99 model direct from Sony with Blu-ray playback. At this price point, the Sony's 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 is common, as are its 4GB of memory and 320GB hard drive. The component combination competed very well against similarly configured laptops on CNET Labs' multitasking, image-processing, and audio-encoding tests. Handling basic office tasks, photo editing, Web browsing, and running e-mail and IM clients, all simultaneously, didn't prove to be any problem for this laptop. That's not to say you can't overtax the system (we wouldn't try anything more than casual gaming, for example), but it shouldn't have a problem keeping up with most essential home and office use.
|Mainstream (Avg watts/hour)||Sony Vaio NW240F|
|Raw kWh Number||46.3|
|Annual Energy Cost||$5.30|
The Vaio's battery life was less impressive. The Vaio NW240FT ran for 3 hours, 36 minutes on CNET Labs' battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's not horrible, though, and considering how demanding our video playback drain test is, with some power management you can expect slightly longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.
Though purchased at retail, Sony's basic one-year parts and labor warranty applies to the Vaio NW240F. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, and an online knowledge base and driver downloads for this specific model can be found at Sony's support site. While retail shops are happy to sell you an in-store extended warranty, they are often expensive and hard to use, so we don't recommend them.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)