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Sony Vaio VGN-NW11Z/S review

Is there an Apple in Sony's eye?

Sony Vaio VGN-NW11Z/S
Sony offer perfectly hansome styling, but is there enough inside?

Our Verdict

Aesthetes will love the VAIO's design, but gamers are better off with lower-profile brands


  • A handsome laptop
  • Lovely screen


  • Too expensive
  • Mediocre battery

Sony, what happened? One minute you're bringing out MiniDiscs, BetaMax video tapes, UMDs and Blu-Rays.

The next you're making boring laptops and TVs. In spite of all those years of innovation, you, the Japanese technological giant, seem to be resting on your laurels.

Take the awkwardly-named VGN-NW11Z/S, for instance. It's a VAIO laptop, so looks the part, but where's the innovation? It seems Apple has stolen Sony's thunder, with its iPods usurping Sony's Walkman, and its MacBooks replacing the VAIOs.

In turn, Sony has stolen Apple's swanky aesthetics. This VAIO is lovely-looking, but the well-spaced keyboard and curvaceous edging can't help but recall to us Apple's latest MacBooks. Inside, though, it's still a Vista installation with a metric ton of bloatware pre-installed.

The screen is lovely: a whopping 16:9 ratio-ed 15.6" affair with bright colours and deep contrast. Sony has provided some reasonably beefy hardware too, with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB of memory.

The built-in Blu-Ray drive renders videos in proper 720p hi-definition, but still reeks of Sony attempting to milk its ailing storage format. In spite of not being marketed as a gaming laptop, if you're happy to play on medium settings the VAIO will still fit the bill.

We got decent, playable framerates out of World in Conflict and Far Cry 2, just don't expect to be playing Crysis on the highest settings. Battery life though is mediocre; we managed to get two and a half hours out of it, which is acceptable, but still nowhere near the big leagues of Acer's Timeline series. It is enough to watch most films, which seems to be the VAIO's raison d'etre.

The VGN-NW11Z/S is incredibly overpriced for what it is, and bearing in mind the slightly-more-expensive Zepto from six months ago is still going strong, it doesn't feel like value.

There are better laptops out there, such as MSI's GT725, which is £300 more but infinitely more powerful when it comes to gaming. The Sony brand then can still drive consumer interest, but we'd prefer to look elsewhere.

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