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Laptops

Vaio NR11Z: A budget Vaio. Yes, that's right

Attention cheapskates: Sony's flogging a range of laptops starting at around £550 -- and they're actually pretty good

Calling all cheapskates: Sony's flogging a range of laptops known as the Vaio NR11 series, with a starting price of around £550. And remarkably, we're at pains to find anything wrong with them.

We're currently playing with the top-of-the-range (£649) VGN-NR11Z/S, which has a 2GHz dual-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, 200GB hard drive, and a 15.4-inch screen. The only weak addition is an Intel X3100 graphics card, but a laptop this cheap is never going to play games, is it?

The Sony Web site describes the NR11Z as "stylish practicality", and it's not far off the mark. We wouldn't call it attractive, but the textured, silver chassis has an industrial look that should appeal to anyone who's fed up with the pervasive piano-black movement.

The 1,280x800-pixel screen is good, there's wireless 802.11a,b,g, an SD card reader, DVD rewriter and four USB ports. It even comes with Microsoft Works, Google Picasa imaging software, and the pièce de résistance -- a copy of WinDVD.

If £649 is too rich for your blood, you can opt for the £549 model, which has a 1.46GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive -- not bad value considering it has a Vaio badge. Keep an eye on the laptops section for a full review soon, or check out the other cheap laptops we've reviewed. -Rory Reid