Sony's Vaio range includes some of best multimedia machines you can buy, offering unique features that help to stand out from the crowd. The Vaio VPCF11Z1E/ BI adds to this legacy but is bettered by its rivals in key areas.

The first is performance. While the Intel Core i7 processor is backed by a staggering 8192MB of DDR3 memory – twice that of all other laptops in this group – benchmark testing revealed it to be far less powerful than its rivals.

This anomaly led us to run a range of further tests, which revealed that all was not as bad as it seemed, as the Sony proved fast and responsive in daily use. However, there is no denying that it was less capable than similarly-specced machines, so bear this in mind if cutting-edge performance is what you're after.

Graphics are also conspicuously average, but again are more than capable for most home use. The dedicated Nvidia graphics card is ideal for gaming and multimedia use. High-definition (HD) video playback, as well as video and photo editing tasks run with ease.

A unique feature of the Sony is its 16.4-inch screen. With no glossy Super-TFT coating in place, it can be comfortably viewed in all lighting conditions. Image quality is fantastic, with vibrant colours, and the screen adjusts its brightness automatically to conserve power.

The screen also boasts Full HD resolution, ensuring the sharpest possible picture. As a result, high-definition video can run in its native resolution, allowing Blu-ray discs to easily be shown to their full potential.

Build quality is excellent throughout, with tough plastics and a sturdy chassis in place. The sleek black and gun-metal design adds style and we found that the raised leather palm-rest added greatly to our comfort when typing.

Light chassis

As with the Acer, the 3.1kg chassis is the joint-lightest in this group. Battery life far exceeds the Acer, however, running for 210-minutes. While none of these machines suit frequent travel use, the Sony has a pleasing touch of portability.

This is also the only machine in this group with an isolated-key style keyboard. With each key cut through an individual hole in the chassis, there is ample space between them. It is very easy to type at speed and we found the board to be comfortable and accurate.

Despite poor first appearances, the Vaio VPCF11Z1E/BI is a highly capable machine. The glorious HD screen, impressive usability and elegant style make this yet another great addition to Sony's range and one that we like a lot.