When it comes to stylish ultraportable laptops, Sony has really made the market its own. The VAIO VGN-TX3XP (£1449 ex. VAT) is the latest example. As the name suggests, this is the third version of this chassis and has been refined to its most impressive level yet.
Weighing in at 1.3kg, it's slim and compact and, because it comes with a built-in DVD rewriter, you can seriously use this machine as your sole computer. The compact chassis is due to the use of an 11.1-inch Super-TFT screen, which uses LED backlighting rather than the standard fluorescent tubes.
Earlier models suffered from a degree of flaring at the base of the panel, but not this version, as images look stunning. The panel is widescreen and is limited to a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, and while images tend to need resizing, it's a usable screen.
Built to last
Due to the use of LED technology, which uses less power than conventional panels, you'll find this machine is designed with battery life in mind. While most machines would need an extended battery, this machine lasted, under test, for 550 minutes, which is just over nine hours, when running in office mode. If you need a machine that won't let you down on a long day away from the office, this is it.
The only compromise made has been the use of an Intel Core Solo U1400 chip, which is a single core solution. Because it's also Ultra Low Voltage, it doesn't deliver the same performance as dual-core variants. While you won't want to use this machine for anything too extreme, it's more than capable for daily office tasks.
The keyboard is solid, with the keys featuring a retro square styling. This helps to keep them firmly in place and also stops things dropping behind them. We found it comfortable to use and, while initially cramped, soon grew accustomed to the position of the keys.
The touchpad is quite large for such a small machine and was initially sluggish, but this can easily be reset in the Control Panel. The mouse buttons sit on the edge of the case and take a little getting used to. You'll also find a biometric fingerprint reader included.
The build quality is mixed - we're still not impressed with the super-thin lid, but the main chassis is solid and robust. This is a truly stunning laptop that offers more in the way of battery life than any other mainstream laptop currently on the market.
While it's not the most powerful machine, if you're looking for something to use all day, every day and that offers more than simply being an email client, this is certainly worthy of recommendation.
As with Lenovo, Sony provides only the most basic warranty with the VAIO VGN-TX3. It's a one-year return to base warranty, so it will cost you money to send the machine back, even if it's a fault on Sony's part. It costs £179 (inc. VAT) for an additional two years.