It would be too much to hope that the FZ used the same LED backlit, super slim, display that graced the TZ and indeed this is the case. But what really lets it down is that even at 15.4in it only has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 which is actually fewer pixels than the TZ packs into its 11.1in screen. Not only that but viewing angles are not brilliant and colours are subdued.
Watching video is also let down by the weak speakers and I would recommend plugging in a pair of headphones whenever possible. Music fairs little better with a complete lack of bass betraying anything but the squeakiest of pop tunes.
Down the right hand side is the power socket, DVD writer, two USB ports, and two 3.5mm jack sockets for headphones and microphone. It’s good to see two USB ports next to each other as portable hard drives which run off USB power sometimes need an extra socket to work properly. This way you don’t need to stretch cables across your notebook.
On the opposite side are an Express card slot, a four-pin FireWire port, a third USB socket, and a plethora of video outputs. Not only is HDMI on offer but there’s also S-Video and D-SUB outputs for those with older TVs/monitors.
The front is rather less full, with just the two memory card slots, a switch to enable/disable wireless networking, and a row of status LEDs for indicating power, battery, hard drive activity, wireless, and Bluetooth status. Finally, the back is even sparser with just a Modem socket and an Ethernet port.
To test performance, I ran our usual set of 2D benchmarks which test both single and multi tasking scenarios. For comparison I've pulled in results from the Acer Aspire 5920 that Andy just reviewed. It has a faster CPU but otherwise is a similarly specced machine.
Though, the Sony put in a good performance, it consistently fell behind the cheaper Acer. This really highlights the FZ's failings as it constantly punches below its weight. Not performance, multimedia capabilities, nor price put it above the competition.
I subjectively tested battery life by forcing off power saving options, like turning the screen of and going into sleep mode, and setting the screen to half brightness. I then used it to write and research this review, until it ran out of juice. I managed to get about two hours out of it, which was a little disappointing but I'm sure this could be stretched to around three hours if a few more battery saving measures were undertaken.
The Sony FZ11L is a very capable notebook with enough performance and features to keep most people happy. However, other manufacturers have cheaper more powerful, and at least for me, more comfortable alternatives - the Acer Aspire 5920 would be a good first port of call.