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At the front of the chassis is a MemoryStick slot that will accept MemoryStick Pro cards. There’s also a hard switch for the wireless connectivity. This can be configured to switch on either the 802.11b/g WiFi adapter, the Bluetooth adapter or both. There are also indicator lights for power, battery, hard disk and optical drive.
On the left is a single Type II PC Card slot, A USB 2.0 port, a four-pin FireWire port, a headphone socket and a mic socket. At the rear you’ll find the power socket and a plastic flap which conceals two further USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet socket, an A/V output and a D-SUB. All in all, Sony has got pretty much all the connection options you’re likely to want on show.
If there’s one thing that lets the specification down, it’s the graphics chipset. Although the ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 isn’t a bad solution, it is starting to look a bit long in the tooth now and has been superseded by the 9600, 9700 and 9800 Mobility Radeon chipsets. The upshot of this is that you’re not really going to be able to play the latest 3D games on this machine, which is a shame considering the fabulous screen. This is borne out by the fact that the VGN-A117S could only manage 22.62fps in AquaMark3 and 36.74fps in X2: The Threat at 1,024 x 768 resolution.
3D performance aside, the rest of the performance picture is far more rosy. Under Mobile Mark 2002, the VGN-A117S turned in a battery life of just over two and a half hours. Now this may not seem too long by Pentium M standards, but you have to take into account the size of this machine and especially the size of the screen. Also, the SYSmark 2002 score of 191 is pretty respectable, and should mean that you’ll be able to run pretty much any office application you’d want.
As usual, Sony has bundled loads of decent software on this VAIO, including Microsoft Works, Adobe Photoshop LE, Adobe Premier Standard, WinDVD, and Sony’s own SonicStage music management application. Add to this the pre-installed Windows XP Home and Norton AntiVirus and you’ve got a pretty strong suite of programs out of the box.
I was expecting the price of the VGN-117S to be as incredible as the 17in screen, but I was very wrong. With a street price of £1491.08 this is a very affordable desktop replacement system, that can still give you a few hours of use on the move.
I really like the VAIO VGN-117S and would be happy to use it as my main computer instead of a desktop. The 17in screen is absolutely stunning and must be seen to be believed, and I’m going to find it very difficult going back to the 1,280 x 1,024 resolution of my desktop monitor. As far as desktop replacement notebooks go, this is the best one I’ve ever seen.