Sony has quite a reputation to uphold with its ultraportable range, especially with companies like Fujitsu Siemens and Lenovo closing in on their style and size formats. Fortunately, Sony is ahead of the game and judging by the VAIO VGN-TX2HP it has little to worry about.
Weighing in at 1.2kg this is by far the lightest machine the company has produced but it's not only the weight that's impressive as the 31mm thickness means you can carry it in any bag without too much of a burden. Made from carbon fibre, you'll find that the chassis feels flimsy but it's strong enough to hold up to the occasional knock.
The 11.1-inch widescreen display has a glossy Super-TFT coating for richer colour and contrast. Rather than using standard lamps, it's illuminated by a row of LEDs that run along the bottom of the screen. This makes for a sharper image, giving truer colours. The only problem arises when you use the notebook in reduced light conditions, as you'll find the individual bulbs flair up the screen, casting all manner of shadows. Hopefully this will sorted in later revisions as this is a great technology that has a direct impact on the amount of battery life the system needs.
Connectivity is standard, with 802.11b/g and 10/100 Ethernet for Wi-Fi and fixed networks. You'll also find Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting to headsets and mobile devices. Considering the thickness of the chassis and its weight, we were impressed with inclusion of a dual layer DVD writer.
Powered by an Intel Ultra Low Voltage processor to maximise battery life, the 1.1GHz Pentium M 733 processor is supported by 512MB of DDR2 memory and a 80GB hard drive. For the average mobile professional, the MobileMark score of 140 will suffice for basic office tasks, browsing the web and watching the occasional DVD.
When it comes to getting the best from your ultraportable, it's not processing power that matters but battery life. We've seen too many machines fail on battery. Thankfully, the TX2 doesn't suffer from this problem, as we managed to get close to 5 hours from a single charge. This in itself is quite remarkable considering the machine has a small six-cell battery pack.
If you need even more battery life, you can opt for a larger second battery (£249 inc. VAT) that brings the overall weight to 1.5kg. what's more, it acts as a sort of stand, tilting the laptop forward for ergonomic viewing and typing angles. In daily use this machine proved to be comfortable to use. The keyboard is of a good size, if a little cramped, but you'll soon grow accustomed to its kinks.
This notebook by all rights should be a hot product but the screen technology is no new that there are kinks we just can’t get over.
Once Sony solves the bulb-flair problem in reduced light this will be the very best ultraportable on the market - in the meantime it’s just plain great.