Sony's latest flagship promises a long battery life, a small package and performance, but can you have all three? We managed to get some hands-on time at the UK launch of the new laptop in London.



You know how netbooks are small, compact and very portable? Well imagine all those strengths and then make sure you pack in enough firepower to do what you want with it regardless.

That's basically what Sony has done with the TT. Aside from the Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, you get up to 4GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DVD with the option to upgrade to Blu-ray and an 11.1-inch 16:9 ratio glossy screen all in a unit that weights 1.3kg (just more than a bag of sugar).

The main weight saving is thanks to a carbon fibre shell (gloss or matt depending on which model you go for) and it's incredibly light. Space and weight has also been saved by opting for that 11.1-inch screen rather than anything bigger, and because of its widescreen dimensions, the keyboard isn't affected as much as you might expect. The keys are well spaced out and easy to use with a descent, but not massive trackpad and buttons beneath.

Additional gadgets to help with productivity include a webcam and finger print reader and there are plenty of ports down both sides including a Memory Stick and SD card slot. Hidden beneath a rather plastic covering is an HDMI socket so you can connect to the laptop to a television or monitor to increase the screen real estate.

With the only two USB sockets right next to each other the laptop suffers from the same problem as the new MacBook Pro, however those worried about their dongle not fitting shouldn't be. Tucked out of the way behind the battery compartment you'll find a HSDPA 7.2Mbps modem complete with SIM slot for your 3G data card SIM.

Out of the box and the new laptop will come with a 30-day free trial on T-Mobile's mobile broadband offering however Sony has said that it won't be SIM locked and therefore you are free to put your own SIM in there from day one, unlike the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 from Vodafone.

The lack of space between the USBs however is still something to bear in mind if you're thinking of using USB thumb drive.

Rather than having to settle for XP or Linux as your operating system, because of the power of the machine you get Windows Vista and there is the usual array of software on-board to get you started and in our brief play applications loaded quickly. The computer was also quick to load from sleep, which if you're working on the train will be very handy.

When it comes to battery life, although we were unable to test it, Sony is promising 8 hours from a single charge with a quick charge option that gives you 4 hours from 1 hour connected to a power source. The move should mean you'll have enough juice to get through the day without needing to find a power socket or better still, the chance to go on a long haul flight and work yourself to death, rather than get drunk on Bloody Marys.

First Impressions

It sounds too good to be true and when you look at the price you might think so. While the laptop is fully customisable, thanks to a new shopping service launched by Sony on its website, the three standard mass market models start at £1599 and creep up every quickly to £1999, and that's before you start opting for a Blu-ray drive or Solid State Drives.



BBC Dragon Peter Jones, who was at the launch, suggested that if it lets you get the job done then £2000 is a small price to pay, but with companies tightening budgets it's a brave move launching a laptop that's so expensive, especially when you think that an Asus Eee PC is a tenth of the price.

Admittedly the Eee PC won't be able to do half the things the TT can do, nor does it look as impressive.

So what's the final verdict? If budget isn't an issue this looks like a fantastic work horse for getting your work done on the road without weighing your bag down. But, like the MacBook Pro's announced by Apple on the 14 October, this isn't one for those worried about cash.

The Sony Vaio TT will be available from 14 November.