Sony – VGN-TZ11WN/B review

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Photo of Sony – VGN-TZ11WN/B

It’s generally reckoned that there are four categories of laptop. Desktop replacements weigh in at 4kg, mainstream models are closer to 3kg, thin and light models weigh 2kg to 3kg and then you get the really desirable models called ultraportables that weigh less than 2kg.

So where, we have to ask ourselves, does the Sony VGN-TZ11 WN/B fit into that list, as it weighs an anorexic 1.19kg complete with battery and DVD-RAM optical drive?

Add 400g for the small power adapter when you go travelling, but you can probably do without it on your daily commute. Sony claims the charge will last for seven hours with typical use and we found we got more than four hours of constant use out of the battery, which is very impressive.

The fact is that Sony has torn up the rule book with the VGN-TZ11 and the result is a tiny, light, horribly expensive laptop that picks and chooses from the best of current technology to keep the weight to an absolute minimum. The X-black screen is quite small at 11.1 inches yet it has a handy 1,366 x 768 WXGA resolution and uses LED illumination to provide a bright, clear picture that looks superb.

We liked the way the shiny screen coating boosts the intensity of colours but there’s a downside, as the coating reflects light quite noticeably. It’s especially apparent if the image on the screen is quite dark or you have a window behind your desk, as you’ll see a clear reflection of the daylight streaming in behind you.

As the screen is so small and the chassis so light it won’t come as a surprise that the VGN-TZ11 has tiny dimensions of 277mm wide, 198mm deep, 30mm high at the back and a mere 22.5mm at the front. The compromise is that the touchpad is very small and the two mouse buttons are located right at the front of the chassis, so you’d be well advised to carry a laptop mouse with you. Between the mouse buttons there’s a fingerprint reader which links to the Infineon TPM 1.2 module and Windows Vista Business to secure the data on your hard drive.

With such an emphasis on long battery life and light weight it was inevitable that Sony would use Intel Centrino Duo hardware to get decent performance with the maximum of efficiency, to avoid wasting any of that precious power as heat and noise. The CPU is a Core 2 Duo U7500 which runs at 1.06GHz on a 533MHz FSB with 2MB L2 cache. You can pay another £100 for the VGN-TZ11 VN/X model with a 1.20GHz U7600 CPU.

The other key hardware is an Intel i945GMS chipset with ICH7-M Southbridge and 2GB of PC2-4300 RAM in a single module. Graphics are supplied by the chipset and the Toshiba hard drive has a nominal 100GB of storage space.

That’s a decent amount of hardware, however the VGN-TZ11 runs Windows Vista Business Edition which puts quite a load on the laptop, and in addition Sony has somewhat thoughtlessly installed its regular software package. You can make a cup of tea while you leave the VGN-TZ11 to start up. Sony also provides a set of media control buttons that hook into the Bios so you can view photos and play music and movies without starting Windows.

As the chassis is so small there’s very little space for ports and connectors but Sony has done a decent job of providing the essentials. There’s an ExpressCard/34 slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a mini Firewire port, two memory card slots and two audio jacks.

Company: Sony

Contact: 08705 424424

Make no mistake about it, the Sony VGN-TZ11 WN/B is very expensive, but it is utterly gorgeous and is a very practical laptop for daily use. The light weight and long battery life make it ideal for slipping in your bag wherever you go, but we suggest you never, ever let it out of your sight unless it's safely locked in a drawer.