Sony has always pitched its notebooks as something a little out of the ordinary; even the name is an acronym, with VAIO standing for Video, Audio, Integrated Operation. So what’s better for a notebook aimed at the heavy video and audio user than a dual-core processor?



This is the first such machine we’ve seen from Sony and comes with Core Duo T2400 chip, which runs at 1.83GHz. While this may not sound as powerful, it’ll handle as effectively as a 3GHz desktop processor. With 1024MB of DDR2 memory in support, things really move with this machine. The specification may be impressive but things didn’t get off to a flying start with the FE11S as we found it ran far too slow on many tasks. Fortunately, a quick refresh of the image had a noticeable improvement, with even the battery life lasting over three hours when running standard applications.

What’s more, the hard drive comes in an amazing 160GB size, so you’ll be able to store even the largest DVD files without worrying too much about running out of space.

The notebook is fitted with a 15.4-inch widescreen panel that comes with Sony’s customary X-black technology, so images look sharp and pin-point sharp. Graphics come courtesy of the Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 GPU, which comes with 256MB of its own memory and is a quick and able graphics card. You won’t be able to run anything too taxing on it, like Doom 3 or FEAR and for most games you won’t be able to run it at full resolution but it’ll handle most things with a degree of success.

Weighing in at 2.9kg, this is a reasonably lightweight notebook considering its specification and is lighter than we expected. On top of this you’ll find a dual-format DVD rewriter built into the chassis.

The keyboard is nice and wide and the keys are large and flat and extremely comfortable to use. The touchpad is wide to mirror the TFT panel and while the mouse buttons are of a good size, Sony has pushed them to the edge of the case, which means they are frustratingly some way from the keyboard. Built into the lid is a webcam that can record 30fps (frames per second) at a resolution of 0.37-megapixels. Controlled by the Motion Picture Function software, it’s easy to set up and use. The camera is controlled using Sony’s own software and is part of the multimedia suite that comes with all VAIOs. If you need to edit photos, video or even audio, you’ll be able to do all the basics with the VAIO tools, adding a great deal of hidden value to the notebook.

Verdict

As Sony’s first dual-core machine they haven’t taken any chances, so while the chassis is a proven design, the performance is great and the battery life equally as good. The real bonus is that Sony hasn’t added a price premium for dual-core, making this an affordable notebook.