Sony VAIO VGN-TZ31VN/R review

Another very desirable Vaio laptop from Sony

Build quality is excellent, but the thin screen panel is more fragile than its rivals

TechRadar Verdict

Possibly the best ultraportable laptop currently on the market


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    Brilliant build quality

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    Some great features

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    120GB storage

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    Long battery life


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    Low performance

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The Sony VAIO VGN-TZ31VN/R (£1799 inc. VAT) is one of the slimmest and lightest laptops around.

While pure power is below average, its feature-packed specification is outstanding for such a small laptop, making it a great choice for a life on the move. The 1.3kg chassis is truly ultraportable, so you'll barely notice the weight when travelling.

Build quality is excellent, but the thin screen panel is more fragile than its rivals. The 369-minute battery life helps add to the impressive mobility.

Plenty of storage

The keyboard takes a unique approach. All the keys protrude individually though holes in the casing, which prevents too much detritus falling between them. Typing is always accurate and comfortable, but the keys may be slightly too small for larger hands.

An ultra-low voltage Intel processor has been used to keep the compact chassis cool during use, but provides poor performance.

Basic internet browsing and office tasks run capably, but the system slowed down when running more than three applications together.

Storage options are far more impressive, considering the Sony's tiny chassis. The 120GB hard drive will easily carry all your files wherever you go. Even better, a dual-format DVD rewriter has been squeezed in for full access to CDs and DVDs.

Mobile multimedia

A panel of keys on the front of the chassis allows full control of music and video playback. An AV Mode button provides instant access to all your multimedia files and makes it easy to keep entertained when relaxing at home or on the move.

The 11.1-inch screen is quite small when compared to the competition. However, its 1366 x 768-pixel resolution makes it easy to work with up to three windows at a time. Colour, brightness and contrast are all stunning, and bring photos and videos to life.

3D performance is poor, but this is to be expected from such a compact laptop. Basic photo and video editing is possible. You can also play games such as Solitaire and Chess, but anything more taxing brings the integrated Intel GPU to a crawl.

An impressive laptop

The SIM card needed for wireless internet access is fitted beneath the battery. In this case, service is provided by T-Mobile, and its Web 'n' Walk software provides easy control over connectivity. As with Vodafone, tariff fees start at £15 per month, plus VAT.

By combining impressive specifications, features and mobility, the Sony VAIO VGN-TZ31VN/R succeeds on many counts.

Its low-performance may deter some buyers, but this is still one of the best laptops currently available for long-term use while on the move.

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