Last month we looked at the Sony Vaio VGN-T2XP/S and we loved the styling but hated the price tag. This month we've seen the Vaio VGN-S4M; it's not quite as easy on the eye, but the cost is a little more pleasing.

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Nevertheless, the £1,249 asking price is still high enough to put the Vaio into our Power notebook category, and you'd perhaps expect a bit more than a WorldBench 5 score of 78 - merely average for a notebook of this size.

The one outstanding feature of the Vaio, other than its stylish chassis, is the 13.3in widescreen. Using X-black technology, Sony has managed to achieve a bright, colourful image without making the screen too shiny. The 128MB GeForce Go 6200 graphics card does a reasonable job, but the frame rates suggest it won't be much good for gaming.

The battery life was a real let-down. It's a small model using a 1.6GHz Pentium M 730 processor, so you'd hope it might last a little longer than two hours and 45 minutes.

Despite the fact that it is quite small, the Vaio is very usable, with a good keyboard and decent-sized keys. You can connect to wireless networks with the 802.11b/g facilities but there aren't many connectors on offer.

The Sony has a 60GB hard drive, and if you need to back up your data there's a dual-layer DVD writer.

Vaio VGN-S4M: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M 730
  • Windows XP Home
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 60GB hard drive
  • 13.3in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 128MB nVidia GeForce Go 6200 graphics card
  • 24x/24x/10x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 8x/8x/8x/2.4x/4x/4x/3x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM) drive
  • 802.11g facilities
  • Microsoft Works 8.0
  • 313x225x35mm
  • 2kg
  • 1-year return-to-base warranty
  • 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M 730
  • Windows XP Home
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 60GB hard drive
  • 13.3in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 128MB nVidia GeForce Go 6200 graphics card
  • 24x/24x/10x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 8x/8x/8x/2.4x/4x/4x/3x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM) drive
  • 802.11g facilities
  • Microsoft Works 8.0
  • 313x225x35mm
  • 2kg
  • 1-year return-to-base warranty

OUR VERDICT

Other than the screen, there's little in the Vaio to justify the price tag. Performance is adequate, and battery life isn't much to shout about for an ultraportable. The design is eye-catching, but there are better deals available.

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