Sony – Vaio VGN-TX2XP review

an almost perfect business laptop
Photo of Sony – Vaio VGN-TX2XP
£1,699

If you like your notebooks small and fully functional, then Sony’s Vaio VGN-TX1XP must be one of your objects of desire, with its winning combination of small size, light weight, usable keyboard and long battery life. Not one to rest on its laurels, Sony has upgraded parts of the older TX1XP to bring us the Vaio VGN-TX2XP.

To its credit, Sony hasn’t tinkered with the TX chassis for this latest version, and with good reason; it’s pretty near perfect as it is. Weighing just 1.25kg including the DVD writer, rising to a mere 1.6kg with the power adapter, and measuring 273 x 195 x 29mm, it’s the perfect tool for people attending lectures, trade shows and so on.

It also looks good; the version we reviewed had a dark blue lid (Sony calls it Slate Blue) but there is also a black-lidded version. Whichever colour you choose it is well matched by the silver keyboard and wrist rest.

The VGN-TX2XP uses the same 11.1-inch screen as its predecessor, with a 1,366 x 768 pixel native resolution and X-Black coating. You may feel that the screen is a bit small, but this resolution gives a true 16:9 aspect ratio, which is perfect for watching DVD movies. An added bonus is the use of LEDs as the backlight source, which gives an improved battery life.

As with its predecessor, the VGN-TX2XP has a superb keyboard. If you have played around with a lot of notebooks of this size, you will know that for most their Achilles’ heel is the keyboard, but not so this one. While the keys are on the small side, they are comfortable to use and once you get used to their size, there’s no problem typing at full speed. Even the Enter, Backspace, Caps Lock, Tab and Shift keys are over-sized, while the space bar is a good size and the touchpad is very responsive.

This machine also has Sony’s AV mode, so you can play CDs and DVD’s without having to boot the system into Windows; another power saving feature. Talking about power saving, battery life is the VGN-TX2XP’s trump card. When running Mobile Mark 05′s DVD playback test the laptop managed a stunning five hours battery life, and just under seven hours in the Productivity test.

It’s not all good news, however, as this fantastic battery life comes at a cost: the VGN-TX2XP’s performance. Powered by a 1.2GHz ULV Pentium M 753, backed by 1GB of memory, the processor clocks down to 598MHz when unplugged from the mains, which is fine for office applications but a bit lacking in grunt for anything else.

As far as graphics are concerned, the VGN-TX2XP is an improvement on the TX1XP, still using Intel integrated graphics but this time based on the i915GM chipset which can use up to 128MB of system memory. Even so, this is one notebook that you can forget about playing games on.

Storage is provided by an 80GB hard drive which has a chunk taken up by Windows XP Professional, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4, Premiere Elements 2, Microsoft Works 8 and a huge bundle of Sony utilities. Disappointingly, the VGN-TX2XP comes with just a one-year warranty.

Company: Sony

Contact: 020 7365 2947


Verdict
Without doubt one of the best small notebooks around, the Sony Vaio VGN-TX2XP has stunning battery life, but that is traded off against performance. However, if you want a small, stylish notebook that you can use all day on batteries alone, you'll find it hard to beat. If Intel brings out a low voltage version of the Core Duo CPU and Sony fits it in the TX chassis, the result could be a near-perfect laptop.