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Sony VAIO VGN-FS115B - Sonoma Notebook
Not only is the VGN-FS115B the first notebook in Sony's FS range to make it into the TrustedReviews lab, but it's also the first machine I've seen based on Intel's new Sonoma platform. Intel launched Sonoma as the next generation Centrino standard back in January, and it brings with it some key advantages over the outgoing technology.
The major advancement with Sonoma is PCI Express support, but you also get dual channel DDR2 memory support, a 533MHz FSB, Serial-ATA support and a raft of new processors. The VGN-FS115B incorporates the new Sonoma technology, but sticks with the integrated Intel graphics, rather than going with a PCI Express solution from either nVidia or ATI.
Inside the FS115B is a 1.6GHz Pentium M CPU and 512MB of memory - although Sony has decided to go with DDR rather than DDR2 memory. Sony has made use of the dual channel memory support and installed two matched SODIMM modules. The down side of this is that you're left with no spare memory slots for future upgrades, although 512MB should be fine for most users of this type of notebook. If you do think that you'll need more memory, it's probably worth negotiating an upgrade at point of purchase.
There's a 60GB hard disk which provides a decent amount of storage space, although it only has a spindle speed of 4,200rpm. If you do want to free up some space on your hard disk, you can offload some of your data using the integrated DVD writer. This drive will write to DVD+R DL, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW and CD-R/RW discs.
It comes as no surprise that the FS115B looks great, after all, most Sony notebooks do. The FS115B may not be the smallest or lightest notebook in Sony's range, but it is still very slim. The silvery/grey lid sports a mirrored VAIO logo as well as a small Sony logo. Opening up the lid reveals a 15.4in widescreen TFT display. The screen looks great, enhanced by the X-Black finish to produce a very bright and vibrant image. The resolution of 1,280 x 800 isn't the highest I've seen on a 15.4in widescreen display, but it's still pretty good to work with. The widescreen aspect ratio and X-Black finish make the FS115B ideal for watching movies too, but playing games is pretty much off the menu, due to the integrated Intel graphics chipset.
Below the screen you'll find two stereo speakers, which produce reasonable sound, but like most notebook speakers, they're nothing to write home about. Below the speakers are two programmable buttons and the power button.
The keyboard looks very flat and uninviting, but once you start typing on it you'll find that it has a lot of spring to it. There isn't quite as much travel as I've seen on other notebook keyboards, but at least each key feels individual and there's no keyboard flex. The touchpad is also a pretty good example, and mirrors the wide aspect ratio of the screen. Below the touchpad are two silver buttons, but no scroll button. However, the right side of the touchpad can be used to scroll up and down through long documents or web pages, despite the fact that there is no indication of this.