The Sony VAIO VGN-FW51ZF/H is a mid-sized media centre, offering a blend of power and portability.
Sitting at the top of the FW range, it provides a specification and performance to put most other laptops in the shade.
The screen is on an equal footing with the Acer Aspire 8935G-744G50Bn, and offers exceptionally bright and vivid colours.
The high-definition resolution helps films look crystal clear and lifelike and there's more than enough space to work with multiple windows, making it ideal for multi-tasking.
A powerful, dedicated ATi graphics card is in place. It's not as fast as the chip in the Acer, but offers enough performance to run media-intensive tasks with ease. You can also play the latest games, adding to the overall media centre functionality.
The keyboard features Sony's now standard isolated style, with each key protruding through a separate hole in the chassis. This makes it easier to type at speed, as there's more space between each key.
With a responsive and accurate typing action, it's a joy to type on. The touchpad is also large and accurate. As with the Acer, a set of dedicated keys let you control your media files and pause, skip and adjust volume settings for your CDs and DVDs at the touch of a button.
Build quality is good, with strong metals and plastics used. The distinctive design – with a circular hinge and swooping curves – won't suit all tastes, but helps the Sony to stand out from the crowd.
Weighing 3kg, it's quite a heavy laptop, but you will still be able to carry it with you on short journeys.
Battery life is capable, lasting for 223 minutes between charges.
Office performance is exceptional, thanks to a high-end 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and an unrivalled 8192MB of memory.
Sony has installed the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, letting you take full advantage of the memory (32-bit versions of the OS can only access 3072MB of RAM) and it runs multiple tasks smoothly and with no lag.
Features include a recordable Blu-ray drive, letting you watch the latest high definition movies and record data to Bluray discs. The 500GB hard drive also offers lots of storage space.
USB ports are more limited than its rivals, and are positioned close to each other on the right-hand side of the chassis, so bulkier peripherals can obstruct the other ports.
Wireless connectivity is impressive, however, with both 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in place. The Sony VAIO VGN-FW51 is a very convincing machine.
While we found that it's not as good an all-rounder as the Acer Aspire 8935G, if you need to carry out multiple tasks or edit HD videos, then it's the best choice here.
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