12 March 2009

Sony's Winning Ultraportable

No other ultraportable line captures the essence of thinking outside the box like Sony's. Sony was the first to introduce an ultrapot table weighing less than 4 pounds with an optical drive and discrete graphics.

The company's latest ultraportable, the VAIO VGN-Z590, breaks new ground once again. The dual SSDs,a Iglu-ray drive, and switchable graphics are featurescommonly found on an 8-pound media center, not a3.2-pound Ultraportable. It's amazing that Sony was able to fit this amount of technology into a smallframe. For this accomplishment, Sony retains the Editors' Choice in the ultraportable category.

The Z590 measures 8.3 by 12.4 by 1.2 inches and weighs 3.2 pounds—more compact and at least a half a pound lighter than its predecessor, the VGN-S/791N. It's slightly heavier than the MacBook Air (3 pounds) but lighter than the Lenovo ThinkPad X301 (3.3 pounds). Clad in carbon fiber, this VAIO's 1,600-by-900 LED widescreen is very thin and bright. Also, you get a built-in Ulu-ray burner, IIDMI port, dual 128GB SSD drives (or the less expensive 160GB,5,400-rpm standard hard drive), Bluetooth, and mobile broadband through Sprint's EV-I)O Rev A.

Unlike the Lenovo X301 and the Apple Air, this VAIO doesn't sacrifice fast processors and discrete graphics cards to preserve battery life. With its 2.53-GHz Core 2 Duo P9500 processor and 4GB of memory, this laptop's score on SYSmark 2007 Preview Overall was more than twice that of the MacBook Air. And its switchable graphics means that you can choose between higher performance and longer battery life. With the nVidia chipset enabled, the Z590 tallied a score of 4 hours 5 minutes on the Mobile-Mark 2007 battery rundown test.

The integrated chipset boosted the system to 5 hours 6 minutes. Although our tested configuration is overpriced,this VAIO is nonetheless the lightest ultraportable out there to offer so many features.—Cisco Chang

Specs: 2.53-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P9500; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM; 256GB SSD; switchable graphics: 256MB Intel GMA 4500MHD/Nvidia Ge•orce 9300M GS; 13.1-inch 1,600-by-900 LED widescreen; Intel Wireless Will Link 5100; 3.2 pounds (4.1 pounds travel); two USB ports; one Fire Wire port; 58-Wh, 5.4-Ah, lithium ion battery; Windows Vista Home Premium.

PC Magazine February 2009


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