Sony VAIO VGN-Z31VN/X review

Can this Sony dethrone the Lenovo ThinkPad X301 as our favourite ultimate laptop for business travellers?

The VAIO's tiny frame manages to pack in plenty of decent components besides the CPU and pair of graphics chips. A 320GB hard disk is far larger than the 128GB SSD drives offered by Apple and Lenovo's rival ultraportables, but it's a trade-off between capacity and an SSD's speed and reliability. If you're not going to use all the space provided by the Sony, then an SSD model may be a better option in a machine that, inevitably, could take a few knocks.

The Sony matches the ThinkPad X301 for connectivity: both machines are kitted out with draft-n wireless, Bluetooth and an HSDPA modem, ensuring that it's possible to stay connected even without a wireless hotspot in sight, and a TPM module will be a welcome addition for business users.

And versatility is improved by a plentiful selection of connections. Two USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a mini-FireWire port and audio and headphone jacks sit alongside VGA and HDMI outputs. It's not quite as impressive as the ThinkPad X301, which packs in an additional USB socket as well as ExpressCard/34 and a DisplayPort socket, but it's a vast improvement on the minimalism of the MacBook Air.

The Sony VAIO Z31VN/X quite simply forces all of its rivals it into submission on most fronts: it has more power, better design and superior battery life to every other ultraportable we've seen. It is a machine almost without compromise and, consequently, should sit proudly atop any mobile worker's laptop shortlist.

Verdict

With the VGN-Z31VN/X Sony is offering up an ultraportable with almost no compromise – it’s got plenty of power, it delivers great battery life and the design is superb. If you want real power in a highly portable package, and money’s no object – this is the system for you.

CPU: 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile P9600 Memory 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM Storage: 320GB hard disk, DVD writer Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS graphics Connectivity: 2 x USB, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire, 802.11a/b/g + draft-n, HSDPA, Bluetooth, webcam Security: TPM Extras: 2-in-1 card reader OS: Windows Vista Business Warranty: 1yr RTB warranty Dimensions: 314 x 213 x 33mm (WDH) Weight: 1.47kg (1.8kg with charger)

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