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Laptops Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU review

£1,269 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Sony

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

The Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU is a Blu-ray Disc-enabled laptop with a 16.4in screen.

The Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU is a Blu-ray Disc-enabled laptop with a 16.4in screen.

Technology-followers will remember the format war that kept the pundits guessing even less than one year ago, when two rival formats were vying for our high-def attention. Sony was the inventor of the Blu-ray format, while Toshiba was behind the HD DVD format. So if anyone knows how to make a Blu-ray laptop like the Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU, it should be Sony.

The Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU takes a 16.4in screen of 1600x900 resolution. Note, then, that the ‘Full HD' sticker applied to the laptop's body is a deceptive practice worthy of Trading Standards' attention - this machine cannot display 1080 lines of horizontal resolution without downscaling.

Build quality is average, if a little plasticky, with the Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU's main chassis finished with silver paint to emulate real metal. Inside is a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, with a 300GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM. This quota of RAM will be underutilised as 32-bit versions of Windows cannot use more than 3GB.

In addition to three USB ports and a mini-FireWire connector, the Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU adds an ExpressCard/54 slot, 56K modem and memory card reader.

To play Blu-ray films, Sony includes InterVideo WinDVD software. This is relatively easy to use and provides quick access to a title's chapters, but playback quality is not particularly inspiring. Colours look over-saturated, and when playing fast moving action, colours could be seen to trail behind the main object, somewhat like low-quality analogue video. We also experienced lip-sync issues which rendered singers with words out of time with the mouth.

Sound quality from the Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU's built-in speakers was clear and controlled, but overly bright and tinny. Enjoying soundtrack playback was further hindered by the almost-always-on cooling fan.

In lab benchmarking, the Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU had reasonable 3D graphics performance through its ATI HD 3650 graphics card, showing a just-playable 23fps in FEAR gaming tests. Battery life fell well short of the three-hour mark, at about two and a half hours. Our WorldBench 6 benchmark test gave an unusually low figure of 89 points, which preliminary investigation suggested was due to an anomaly with the Nero 7 component of the test.

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Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU Expert Verdict »
Sony Vaio VGN-FW11Z/U Scores 8.5 out of 10 based on 4 reviews
1 year 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400
Windows Home Premium SP1 32-bit
2 x 2GB DDR2 RAM
3x USB
1 x mini FW400
300GB SATA 4200rpm hard drive
2.9kg
384x261x37mm
802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
16.4in, 1600x900 screen, 16:9 screen
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650, 256MB
HDMI, VGA
BD-ROM
BD-R/RE
DVD±RW
DVD-R9
ExpressCard/34, 56K modem
4800mAh battery
  • Build Quality: We give this item 7 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 7 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 6 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

With a 2.53GHz processor, the Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU should be a nippy machine, and the ATI graphics card allows the use of some modern games. Blu-ray playback was short of expectation though, especially given Sony's weight behind the format.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
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