One of the best known brands in the world, Sony's VAIO range includes both consumer and corporate laptops. Unveiling a new design, the Sony VAIO VGN-N11S/W is a straightforward consumer laptop, ideally suited to the first-time buyer.
With its white and silver plastic chassis, there seems to be an obvious influence from Apple's MacBook. Unfortunately, this isn't carried across to the build quality. The Sony feels weak to the touch and isn't as sturdy as we'd expect at this price.
Weighing 3kg, basic mobility is provided. This is supported by a battery life of 233 minutes, which can keep you mobile for half a working day. Heat build-up on the chassis is kept to a minimum, so you can use the machine on your lap for long periods in comfort.
Less usable is the keyboard. Despite large and well-spaced keys, responsiveness is poor. All keys need to be struck hard to register, making it difficult to type at speed. No such problems affect the touchpad or mouse buttons, both of which are consistently comfortable to use.
The best feature of this VAIO is its 15.4-inch screen. Using Sony's X-black coating, the screen is glossy and improves brightness and colour reproduction. Images are vivid, and ideally suited to working with digital images and videos, as well as watching DVDs.
Dual-core power is delivered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Performance is proficient. For most home users, this will be more than sufficient, although high-performance multimedia applications will struggle.
Room for storage
Ample storage space is provided by a 100GB hard drive. A recordable DVD drive lets you save up to 8.5GB of data to compatible dual-layer discs. A 5-in-1 media card reader provides yet another way to share data with other devices.
Although this VAIO is not specifically aimed at corporate users, Windows XP Professional is preinstalled. As a result, extra features not present in the Home edition can be accessed, including basic data encryption and a range of advanced networking features.
A frequent benefit of buying Sony laptops is the extensive software package they include. A range of market-leading applications allow you to stay protected on the internet, back up all your data and create your own DVDs, to name just a few of the options on offer.
With such tough competition at this price point, poor build and the usability of the Sony VAIO VGN N11S/W keep it from higher acclaim.