It may be better known as the consumer’s favourite but in the last 12 months, Sony has made a big play for the corporate buyer. Has it got itself a winner with the VGN-BX196SP? We take a closer look.

The company’s reasoning behind this is one of scale and economy - not only do corporate users buy more than one machine; they also spend more in support and upgrades. On the downside, in order to win big orders you need to show consistency and an eye for the big picture.

So we come to Sony VAIO VGN-BX196SP, which manages to tick a number of boxes right away. It seems in order to be taken seriously as a business machine you need to have a pointing stick as well as touchpad for navigation. This is an old affectation that Sony is willing to go along with.

The look is solid and reliable and you’ll find a biometric fingerprint reader is located next to the power switch. As this is backed up by a TMP hardware encryption chip, you’ll find that anyone trying to access your files and data won’t be able to, even if they strip out the hard drive.

Weighing in at 3kg, there is a degree of portability to be had but not on a regular basis. In daily use, we managed to get a little over 2 hours of use from the system, which isn’t ideal by any means. To this extent, you would consider the VAIO as a desktop replacement. You’ll find an Intel Pentium M 750 (1.86GHz) processor and 512MB of DDR2 memory offering enough power for most occasions. Backed up by the 100GB of storage, there is little to complain about. In fact, in use we found it quick and reliable.

If you work away from the office, the addition of a built-in webcam means you can take part in meetings, albeit using video conferencing, so you never need be away from that important meeting again. Images can be viewed on the 15.4-inch widscreen panel, which comes with Sony’s now familiar X-black coating, which gives better contrast and improved image quality.

The screen is powered using the integrated chipset, the Intel 915GM, so performance is minimal but satisfactory for watching DVDs and giving presentations.

In terms of connectivity, the BX196SP fares better. In addition to Wi-Fi for wireless networking, it has Gigabit Ethernet for high-speed fixed networking. Bluetooth is also included for wireless headsets, PDAs and other peripherals. Memory Stick and SD card readers are situated on the front panel for transferring files from your phone or camera, and the multi-format DVD writer supports the dual-layer DVD+R format for saving up to 8.5GB of data on a single disk.


Battery life is less than we expected but the usability is very much in keeping with what we have come to expect from a VAIO. It's not that there is fundamentally anything wrong with the Sony VAIO VGN-BX196SP, merely that it follows in the footsteps of more established business machines, such as those from HP and Toshiba.

To this end, except for the name and branding there is little in the BX to lure the corporate buyer away from his current account.