At 1.9Kg, this Sony model is a very portable lightweight contender, yet its configuration packs a punch that many middle-weight notebooks would be proud of. It has a fast Pentium M 760 CPU, an adequate 512MB wallop of RAM, a discreet GeForce Go 6200 graphics adapter with TurboCache, a 60GB Serial ATA hard disk and a double-layer DVD burner within its slightly larger than A4-sized base. It achieved a score of 84 in PC WorldBench 5, which is par for such a configuration and its graphics performance was also solid, making it a great notebook for working with images and presentations.

Built in connectivity options include an 802.11b/g wireless network adapter, concealed USB 2.0 and FireWire ports as well as a PCMCIA slot, a VGA port, a 10/100 Ethernet port and a V.92 modem. A MemoryStick Pro slot is also present and if you have a Bluetooth-enabled phone or mouse, you will appreciate the integrated Bluetooth adapter.

The layout of these ports and slots is along the sides and across the front of the base, with the rear of the base housing the 8-cell 4800mAh rated Li-Ion battery. This battery should last you close to 2 hours as long as you don't use the spindle devices and as long as you keep intense process and, of course, the screen brightness low. The 13.3in widescreen has eight levels of brightness adjustment available.

The screen is mounted on hinges that are located right on the edge of the base, which maximises the amount of space available on the base and Sony has used the area between the keyboard and the screen to install speakers and a couple of customisable shortcut buttons. The keyboard itself is comfortable to type on despite the small size of the notebook and most of the keys are full-sized (apart from the arrow and function keys) and the touch-pad navigation device was responsive during testing. The palm rest area in front of the keyboard is ample and also rigid, which is just as well considering the DVD burner is accessible from the front of the unit and is located just under the left palm rest and the PCMCIA slot.

Heat extraction is managed by a fan, which blows air through a heatsink that is vented on the right edge of the unit. While the machine is idling or not doing any intense processing, it will spin a low speed, and will be inadudible, but if the machine is doing heavy processing then the fan will speed up. Even at full speed it's not a loud fan so it should be bearable.

Verdict: Well styled and well configured, the VGN-S48GP/B is a great notebook for the frequent traveller or business user who is constantly zipping between meetings or work locations. Its price is competitive and it also comes with cool VAIO Zone software, for managing and viewing your multimedia files.


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Danny Allen

PC World
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