Sony's impressive global reputation means its VAIO laptops often sell on the strength of their name alone. With its slim and stylish chassis, the VAIO suits its mobile business audience. Although not as sturdy as the Lenovo or HP, it's tough enough for a life on the move. The chassis slants towards the user, improving the typing position and making the laptop comfortable to carry.

With a user interface that spans its chassis, the keyboard is large and accessible. All keys are responsive, but the typing action may be too hard for some. The touchpad is excellent, although the mouse buttons are slightly small.

The strength of the Sony lies in its power and features. Using an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, performance is cutting- edge. Graphics are just as impressive - the Sony more than triples the 3D power of some rivals.

Battery life is less capable. Running for nearly four hours suits only short-term travel use. A button below the screen switches the laptop to Stamina Mode, by disabling the dedicated graphics chip. However this only adds 15 minutes to the battery life.

The Sony has a 13.3-inch screen. Multiple windows can be accessed simultaneously, and Sony's glossy X-Black screen coating provides vivid colours, but increases reflections.

Storage options

A 100GB hard drive provides comprehensive data storage, while a built- in DVD recorder allows data to be saved externally. For safeguarding data against thieves, a fingerprint reader sits between the mouse buttons. Easy to set up, you need never remember a password again.

As with the Acer, a 1.3-megapixel camera sits above the screen, although the camera is fixed and cannot be moved. For one-to-one video conferencing, this is a welcome addition and ideal for communicating on the road.

The fastest Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections are possible when connecting to compatible networks. An HSDPA Express Card is included for wirelessly connecting to the internet. Contract costs start at £29 per month (inc. VAT) from T-Mobile, with 30-days free when you sign up.

Although expensive, you get what you pay for with the Sony VAIO VGN- SZ3XWP. With outstanding features suited to mobile business use, this is another excellent ultraportable from Sony. What Laptop Staff