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Laptops

Photos: Hands-on with the Sony Vaio SR Series (VGN-SR19VN)

If you can't decide whether you're a business or consumer laptop user, Sony's brand new Vaio SR Series may help, since it splits the difference with the VGN-SR19XN and VGN-SR19VN

If you just can't decide whether you want a laptop for business or personal use, point your viewing spheres towards Sony's new Vaio SR Series: the entry-level VGN-SR19XN and the top-end VGN-SR19VN.

The SR Series is set to be a stonking all-rounder from what we saw, regardless of whether you're out on business or making musical photo slideshows at home (have you noticed that's all PC manufacturers seem to think people want to do on a computer?).

Inside the slim silver chassis sits an Intel Centrino 2 CPU running at 2.26GHz, up to 4GB of RAM, 802.11a/b/g and Draft-N, an integrated 1.3-megapixel camera, and either a 250GB hard disk spinning at 5,400rpm or a 200GB disk spinning at 7,200rpm. The top-end model also comes with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphics.

The 13.3-inch screen boasts a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels and images appeared crisp with terrific colour reproduction. The LED technology behind it should help deliver the promised 5-hour battery life and a 1.9kg weight makes it relatively portable model to boot.

To us, it's a shame there's no Blu-ray drive option. While most people interested in this model may not require high-definition movie playback, the option to have it included would've been nice. For this reason, there's really no need for HDMI output, so Sony hasn't included it.

But like the rest of the new Vaio line-up, the SR Series sports the isolated keyboard design. There are also five physical 'Quick Switch' buttons fixed just below the screen. These can be assigned as simple shortcuts to any application within Windows and appear as a small dock of icons at the very bottom of the Windows desktop. Check our following photos to see this in action.

In addition, up to three desktop environments can be configured. For example, you could have a desktop for work with a picture of your family as a wallpaper and Quick Switch links to Microsoft Word and the office's network drives. Then, at home, you can switch to a desktop with a picture of your boss as a wallpaper and Quick Switch links to your family photos and personal email.

The SR Series was a great laptop to use during our time in Berlin, but we left feeling the least excitement for it out of the entire new Vaios. Prices will start at £999 for the VGN-SR19XN, going up to £1,199 for the VGN-SR19VN, and we hope to have confirmed UK availability dates and a full review for you as soon as possible.

An exciting, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat gallery of hands-on photos awaits you over the next few pages, highlighting some key areas of design and construction. Hold on to your lederhosen. -Nate Lanxon

Five 'Quick Switch' buttons give fast access to any program or document you assign them to. There are over the three customisable desktops, as mentioned earlier, giving you a total of 15 possible shortcuts.

Here you can see the 'Quick Switch' button and its accompanying desktop dock in action.

Sony's isolated keyboard is present in the SR Series, too. It actually feels a lot like typing on an Apple MacBook.

No HDMI output means video-out is provided solely by VGA-out. Considering this model has no Blu-ray drive option, the lack of HDMI isn't a major issue.

Physical wireless LAN controls sit on the front of the chassis for easy access.

Two USB sockets and an optical drive can be found on the right-hand side of the system....

...and to their right is something we're not that fond of: a plastic flap that conceals modem and Ethernet connections.

The annoying plastic flap can be pulled out to reveal the aforementioned ports. Sony gets a lot of things right when designing the Vaios, it has to be said, but this isn't one of the things we'd put on a list of design highlights.