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Sony's 16.4-inch Vaio VGN-FW139E previewed

by on29 October 2008


What a difference an inch makes

During Gitex,
Fudo wrote about Sony Vaios with keyboards which look as if they came straight off a design board of a latte drinking designer in Cupertino.

Pleasant to look at, but by no means spectacular, these machines are obviously intended for the smug who don't feel smug enough to get a MacBook. So, we decided to take a look at one of them, but to make things interesting, I opted for a 16.4-inch model.

Unlike most notebooks, the 16.4-inch screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1600x900. Great for watching movies, which admittedly is not something we do on notebooks on an everyday basis, but the TV aspect ratio can also help in some other applications, as well.


On the hardware side, the Vaio packs quite a punch. Powered by Intel's Core 2 Duo P8400 clocked at 2.26GHz, coupled with the PM45 chipset and 3GB of DDR2 clocked at 800MHz, it has enough power to replace most desktops. It has 250GB of storage spinning around at 5400rpm, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, three USBs, FireWire, Bluetooth, 1.3MP camera and a bunch of other stuff we'll talk about in the review.

Like most mentally healthy people in the world, Sony engineers decided not to go for an Intel IGP and opted for ATI's HD 3470 with 256MB of DDR3. Nothing spectacular in terms of performance, but it should be good enough for casual gamers and everyday use. ATI's HD decoding capabilities could come in handy, and the HDMI is also a welcome addition.


Sony promises a 16.4-inch screen on a machine with the footprint of a 15.4-inch notebook. Measuring 38.4 x  26.2 x 3.7cm, this claim is not far from the truth, and with a weight of 2.9kg it's just barely heavier than an average 15.4-inch notebook. So, getting an extra inch of screen acreage and 1600x900 instead of 1280x800 is beginning to sound like a rather good deal.

The build quality is good, but there are some issues, as well. We'll talk a bit more about design, ergonomics and performance in our full review. The price? Well, at one point Newegg was selling it for a miserable $999 after some sort of rebate, but Amazon is currently carrying it at $1,299. It's still an honest price, but at $999 it was really a bargain, and that's not something you see every day when it comes to Sony.

Stay tuned for more, the full review should be up in a week or so.
Last modified on 30 October 2008
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