Sony VAIO VGN-FZ17G

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Sony VAIO VGN-FZ17G
  • Sony VAIO VGN-FZ17G
  • Sony VAIO VGN-FZ17G
  • Sony VAIO VGN-FZ17G

Pros

  • HDMI output, great screen, some gaming capabilities

Cons

  • Only 1GB of RAM

Bottom Line

Sony's VAIO FZ17G is a great multimedia notebook which offers a HDMI output and couples it with solid performance and a nice array of features.

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Catering to notebook users who want to get a little more fun out of life, Sony's VGN-FZ17G is a mid range model with a few nifty home entertainment features such as a 15.4in widescreen display and HDMI output. However, it also comes loaded with Windows Vista Premium and a fairly strong combination of components so it is suited to a variety of tasks including desktop publishing and even some light gaming.

The most noteworthy thing about this model is the display. The 15.4in LCD runs at a resolution of 1280x800 and is crystal clear. During our movies tests it exhibited great contrast and good colour, making it ideal for movie watching. It also has great viewing angles, both vertically and horizontally, allowing multiple people to watch at once.

If you'd prefer to watch on something a little bigger, the included HDMI port will serve you well. While this is normally a standard inclusion on Blu-ray and HD-DVD-capable units, Sony has chosen to incorporate it into a lower-end DVD model in the FZ17G and it is a most welcome inclusion. Home entertainment enthusiasts will love the high quality audio and video and ease of use of a single cable connection.

Also useful for movie watching is the array of media controls resting above the keyboard. With play/pause, stop, volume and track skip, you'll have everything you need at the touch of a button. There is also an 'AV mode' key that boots up a special media toolbar which overlays on top of the Windows interface, but we didn't find it particularly useful.

While media functionality is key for the FZ17G, that isn't to say it doesn't have a bit of grunt. Sporting a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and an NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT graphics card, it is a fairly capable machine.

Our WorldBench 6 benchmark software has a habit of not working on Sony notebooks and as such we couldn't put this model through the same procedure as many others, but during our testing it operated well while performing a variety of tasks such as Web browsing and desktop publishing. The 1GB of RAM is a little disappointing and means you won't be able to run any particularly demanding applications such as Adobe Photoshop well, but it does the job for most things.

In our encoding test, which converts 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, the FZ17G took 130 seconds, which is a good result. Meanwhile when running 3DMark 2006, it scored 1682, which indicates most new games will run, but only at very low settings. That said, older titles will run perfectly.

We also tested the battery by looping a DVD until it fully drained. This is a great test as it uses the optical drive, display and speakers as well as internal components. The FZ17G lasted 85 minutes before powering down, which fell in line with our expectations of the unit.

Connectivity is present in the form of 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g wireless and Bluetooth 2.0. There is also a built in webcam and speakers, although we'd recommend a pair of good quality headphones if you want to watch films regularly.

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