Sony Vaio VGN-AR11S Blu-ray laptop

We’ve never been too shy about our admiration for Sony notebooks. True, there are cheaper machines out there but when you want something that looks like nothing else on the market and just happens to have multimedia on mind, it’s hard to beat a VAIO notebook.

Take the AR11S for instance, from the minute you clap your eyes on its hard not to be impressed. Sure, it weighs in at 3.8kg, but the black and chrome finish is designed to go head-to-head with Toshiba’s Qosmio, the only other notebook in this price bracket/luxury media centre market, and we think Sony has done a great job.

The 17-inch panel comes with an X-Black screen so movies are pin-point sharp, which you’ll need as this is the first notebook to come with a Blu-ray optical drive, so hi-definition video is the name of the game.

Hi-Def movies are only just starting to appear but we managed to get our hands on a few test disks and we weren’t let down. Just as with Super-TFT screens, once you’ve experience Hi-Def there is simply no going back to the older technology.

There may be a price premium on this notebook but if you want the best, this is money well spent.

The advantage this drive has over the Qosmio is that you can write as well as simply read, so you can fully take advantage of creating discs up to 50GB in capacity.

We weren’t disappointed with the rest of the specification, either. An Intel Core Duo T2500 processor, which is a dual-core processor running each core at 2GHz and supported by a gigabyte of DDR2 memory means you editing as well as running Hi-Def footage isn’t too much of a chore and following on with the dual theme, you’ll even find a pair of 100GB hard drives so storage isn’t a problem either.

Graphics are handled by the Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 GT chip, which is a powerful mainstream solution that will more than handle your gaming needs. High-speed networks can be accessed via 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. Enhancing multimedia use, an HDMI-out port can be used to connect to external high-definition displays, and a Dolby 7.1 digital out can link to amplifiers for full surround sound.

Don’t think its only the looks that are impressive, as the build quality is also high – after all, it needs to be to bear the weight of the panel. The keyboard is centrally mounted and comfortable to use, which means you can even use it for work if you need to.

It’s hard to fault such a well-built and good looking machine. Sure, we only managed a battery life of just two hours, but the size and weight of the machine aren’t designed for mobile travel, so we’re not too concerned.

Verdict

If you want the best of everything in an attractive package with the power to handle everything you throw at it, this is the machine.