Sony's VAIO range includes some of the best ultraportable laptops currently available, mixing tiny dimensions with features and impressive battery life. The Vaio VGN-TX5XN/B (£1,699) is a case in point; with an 11.1-inch screen, it's one of the smallest machines available.

Turn on the glossy Super-TFT display and you'll notice it's sharp, usable and has enough space onscreen to open two documents at the same time. The TX5's screen uses LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology, which has two major benefits. One of these is better colour reproduction, offering particularly vibrant images. The other is minimal power consumption.

The TX5 is designed to consume as little power as possible, as this helps to extend the battery life. To this end, you'll find an integrated graphics card, Intel's GMA 950, which is power-efficient and produces less heat than a dedicated GPU, helping to keep the TX5 cool. It does mean you'll be restricted to basic office use, however, as intensive 3D applications are the preserve of machines with dedicated GPUs.

Staying power

Sony has fitted the TX5 with an Ultra-Low Voltage (ULV) processor - Intel's Core Solo U1500. Along with the LED display and integrated GPU, this helps to give the Sony a much longer battery life than any of its rivals, and we had no trouble in using the TX5 for an entire working day without needing a power point.

However, this processor does rob the TX5 of some of the performance you'd find with a conventional chip. Because it only has a single core, you also won't be able to multi-task efficiently. That said, with a useful 1024MB of memory holding data for the processor, applications ran smoothly and you'll have no trouble browsing the internet.

That Sony has crammed the latest components into a chassis of this size may be commendable, but it's the excellent keyboard that really impresses. Stretching right to the edge of the compact chassis, the keys are large, well sprung, and comfortable to use. The touchpad is also large and responsive.

The chassis of the TX5 is well made, feeling sturdy to the touch, and is more than capable of standing up to day-to-day use. However, at just 4mm in depth, the screen is fragile. With carbon-fibre used in the construction, weight has been kept down to just 1.3kg.

Despite the size, this is no stripped-down, basic machine. Sony has managed to pack in a DVD rewriter, a fingerprint scanner for security and Bluetooth for transferring files wirelessly.

It's may be less glamorous or exclusive than the likes of FSC's LifeBook Q2010, but the TX5 is actually the better machine.