Sony's VAIO SR series has been around for a year or so now, sitting in the middle of the company's ultraportable range. The VAIO SR41M/W (£1099 inc. VAT) sees a number of updates to the design and internal components.

The Sony SR41's screen remains the same at 13.3 inches. With a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, images are sharp, and LED backlighting also results in incredibly bright and accurate colour reproduction – ideal for watching films or working with photographs. The glossy Super-TFT coating will put off some users, however, producing reflections when out on the road.

Multimedia performance is better than most ultraportable systems, thanks to the provision of a mid-range ATIi Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics card, allowing you to play games in your spare time or run intensive 3D applications.

All the latest SR models can be distinguished by the use of a white keyboard with the familiar isolation design retained. The keys protrude through holes in the chassis, with space between each key, making it easy to type at speed.

Build quality is good, with aluminium and magnesium alloy used in the construction to keep the weight down to 1.9kg. The plastics used for the palmrests let this machine down, however, bending slightly under pressure and lacking the quality shown in the rest of the laptop.

Processing power comes from a midrange Intel Core 2 Duo chip, running at 2GHz. Along with 3072MB of memory, we found this laptop a more than capable companion during daily use. It failed to shine in our benchmark tests, but in real life we noticed little lag and start-up times were impressively quick.

Excellent battery life

The biggest improvement is seen when it comes to battery life, however. Where the original VAIO SR struggled to better three hours between charges, this model lasted for an outstanding 349 minutes, letting you use it for most of a working day away from a power point.

Two USB ports limit the amount of peripherals you'll be able to connect simultaneously, although an ExpressCard slot offers further connectivity. Bluetooth also offers wireless connections. When it comes to networking, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet offer the fastest connections currently possible. An HDMI port has also been added, letting you hook up a high-definition TV.

Although this model marks an evolution rather than a revolution for the SR range, the changes are all welcome and turn this into a very good ultraportable. It's a shame the plastics used inside aren't a little tougher but, that aside, it's a highly impressive machine.

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