We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Laptops Reviews
15,670 Reviews

First look: Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H

$1,750 ex VAT in the US

Manufacturer: Sony

The Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H is a speedy and desirable laptop sporting Intel's latest Centrino 2, Monevina processor.

The Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H is a speedy and desirable laptop sporting Intel's latest Centrino 2, Monevina processor.

As one of the first notebooks with Intel's new Centrino 2 processor (code-named Montevina), the Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H might be expected to hog the performance spotlight.

The Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H is an entertainment notebook. It certainly felt plenty speedy moving among applications in casual use, and it did fine in our formal performance tests. But the laptop's screen will probably turn more heads than its horsepower - or its speakers - will.

Sony's premium entertainment model, the Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H retails for $1,750 (just shy of £900, but ex VAT, of course) and is also built for business.

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

Processing power

Thanks to a 2.53-GHz Core 2 Duo T9400 processor (which is fairly middle-of-the-road among Intel's seven new Montevina chips) and a hefty 4GB of RAM, the Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H posts solid numbers.

A score of 94 in Worldbench 6 doesn't make for the fastest lap around the track, but the Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H keeps pace with Sony's more compact VGN-SZ791N.

Of course, with great power comes an even greater battery drain. The Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H lasted only 2 hours, 32 minutes in our tests. That's about 30 minutes less than we're accustomed to seeing in all-purpose notebooks - or in power-sucking desktop replacements, for that matter.

This Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H also turned in solid gaming scores; its dedicated video card, the 256MB Radeon HD 3470, topped out at 83 frames per second in Far Cry (with antialiasing turned off). Just resist the temptation to use every bit of the beautiful 16-inch display. Most gaming on this notebook probably shouldn't go much higher than a 1024-by-768-pixel resolution.

The screen itself is a real attention grabber. The latest "tweener" - a screen that falls between two established notebook display sizes - it's almost freakishly skinny. At an atypical 16.4in wide, it's no taller than a 15.4in screen but over an inch wider, the better to watch widescreen high-def movies in the recordable Blu-ray drive, or to view two websites or documents side by side. (Even so, when we ran our test disc - a Blu-ray version of 'Phantom of the Opera' - we still saw annoying black letterbox bars.)

The screen is also extremely bright without being too reflective. The 1600-by-900-pixel resolution is easy on the eyes when tackling mainstream work. All in all, the Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H's screen is a big winner. You certainly won't find a notebook with a similar-size screen - such as a slightly larger 17in - that's as easy to lug as this 2.9kg (not counting the power adaptor) unit.

NEXT PAGE: sound quality, seamless build > >

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

Sony VAIO VGN-FW198U/H Expert Verdict »

There are currently no technical specifications recorded for this product.

If you're looking for a fast notebook with the latest in beautiful, functional screens, this Windows Vista Ultimate-equipped unit delivers the goods. And Sony will have 12 fixed configurations from which to choose in retail outlets and online. And while the built-in speakers are anything but entertaining, you'll have no worries if you're happy with headphones.

  • Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU review

    Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU

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

  • Sony Vaio VGN-FZ180EB laptop PC

    Sony Vaio VGN-FZ180EB laptop PC

    The Sony Vaio VGN-FZ180EB is a mid-size laptop PC with a nice screen.

  • Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU review

    Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU

    Slow performance and poor colour fidelity on a laptop are no longer mandated – just look at Sony’s VAIO VGN-AW11XU, candidate for the fastest notebook in the world. UPDATED 6th MARCH 2009

  • Sony Vaio VGN-FE41E

    Sony Vaio VGN-FE41E

    The Sony Vaio VGN-FE41E is a sleek laptop. At 2.8kg, it is both durable and light enough to take on the road.

  • Sony VAIO VGN-NS20 review

    Sony VAIO VGN-NS20

    The Sony VAIO VGN-NS20 is Sony's budget VAIO PC.

IDG UK Sites

Best Christmas 2014 UK tech deals, Boxing Day 2014 UK tech deals & January sales 2015 UK tech...

IDG UK Sites

LED vs Halogen: Why now could be the right time to invest in LED bulbs

IDG UK Sites

Christmas' best ads: See great festive spots studios have created to promote themselves and clients

IDG UK Sites

Why Apple shouldn't be blamed for exploitation in China and Indonesia