Laptop manufacturers are queuing up to release products featuring Intel's Centrino 2 platform, with Sony at the front of the line. The VAIO VGN-SR19VN is one of the first Centrino 2-based laptops to hit the shops.
It's a compact and lightweight machine, boasting a 13.3-inch screen, dedicated GPU and a weight of 1.9kg. As with other Centrino 2 laptops, you'll find a 45nm Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a Mobile Intel 45 Express chipset and an 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter included as standard.
The SR19VN's Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor features a host of updates. It runs at 2.26GHz, with a performance boost provided by the 1066MHz FSB– up from 800MHz.
With a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 25w – compared to 35w on most older processors, it generates less heat, and promises to save on battery life. L2 cache remains at 3MB – half the amount found on high-end models.
Intel is claiming big performance increases for Centrino 2-based laptops – up to 20 per cent in some cases. Our review model was a pre-production sample, so benchmark results may differ on production laptops, but it failed to match the impressive performance claims.
The SR19 posted a score of 170 in our MobileMark 2007 benchmark – which is surprisingly low for a machine with such a powerful specification.
It fails to tell the whole story, however – as we found it a blisteringly quick laptop in day-to-day use, with no sign of lag when multi-tasking. Further benchmarking tests proved more impressive – with a Cinebench 9.5 score of 795 in-keeping with previous-generation high-end Centrino laptops
That the SR19 failed to improve on older laptops is not necessarily a surprise – as Intel's impressive performance claims are based on machines using the latest DDR3 memory. The Sony features slower and cheaper DDR2 RAM, which goes some way to explaining the shortfall in performance.
There's no denying the smaller chipset's efficiency when it comes to ventilation, however.
The SR19 remained cool to the touch after long periods of time, which is impressive considering the compact chassis, high specification and dedicated graphics card.
The Sony's 13.3-inch screen is sublime, using LED technology to offer the most accurate and vibrant colour reproduction.
We found it bright enough to use in direct sunlight, although reflections and fingerprints were highlighted by the glossy Super-TFT coating. The WXGA (1280 x 800 pixel) resolution is standard for a panel of this size, resulting in crisp images
Graphics are provided by an ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3470 chip. It's a mid-range solution, and we had no trouble running the latest games, albeit with detail settings turned down in some cases.
Centrino 2's dual-graphics feature – which enables the user to switch between integrated and dedicated GPUs – is not included. As a result, battery life – at around three and a half hours between charges – was no better than average.
Usability on the SR19 is excellent. The keys protrude individually through the chassis, making it easy to type at speed without hitting the surrounding keys.
The patterned touchpad is large enough to make navigation easy for those with the biggest of fingers, and the touchpad buttons are separated by a fingerprint scanner.
Magnesium alloy is used for the Sony's chassis, along with the lid of the laptop, and it's strong, light and tactile. The inside of the machine doesn't prove as robust, being made out of thin plastics.
The features list is generous, with 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet included as standard. WiMAX – one of the features touted for Centrino 2 laptops – is not present.
It's likely to be rolled out in the US in the next few months but, with band frequencies yet to be finalised, it will be at least 12 months before it appears on laptops in the UK.
The SR19's biggest problem is the limited connectivity on offer, and the provision of just two USB ports means you won't be able to connect all your peripherals simultaneously.
Those wanting to connect digital displays will have to do so using the analogue-only VGA port – with no support for digital or high-definition connections.
That it crams so much performance into such a compact and lightweight chassis is impressive in itself, and it's difficult to fault the Sony for style or usability. It's a shame the SR19 can't match Intel's performance claims for Centrino 2-based laptops, however.