As well as superb design and solid hardware specification, Sony has also equipped the S1VP with a decent software bundle. Pre-installed you’ll find Sony’s Adobe pack which includes Photoshop Elements 2.0, Premiere Standard, Photoshop Album 2.0 Starter Edition and Acrobat Elements 6.0. On top of this you get a copy of Microsoft Works to make sure the S1VP is productive straight out of the box and a copy of Norton Internet Security to keep you protected from all those malicious emails and executables out there.
You’ll also find Sony’s own music management application, SonicStage included, and PictureGear Studio. Sony has also installed its media sharing utilities, so it’s easy to share audio and video files with other networked Sony devices around your home or office.
The Sony VAIO VGN-S1VP is one of those products where I find myself looking for something negative to talk about. Being very critical I can say that the keyboard does flex a little when typing at speed and doesn’t feel as solid as something you’d find on an IBM ThinkPad. I could also say that the graphics chipset is a bit disappointing, but since you have the option of paying a little more for a cutting edge 3D chipset, that would seem like a somewhat harsh criticism. On the whole the S1VP is a lovely little laptop, and one that I would be more than happy to carry around with me every day of the week.
That said, after a couple of days more use, I found myself in a quiet hotel room with the S1VP plugged into the mains. Not only did this mean that the CPU was running at a full 1.7GHz, but it also meant that an incredibly loud variable fan kicked in and stayed on constantly during use. Now, I'm usually willing to accept a bit of fan noise in a very slim notebook, but the constant whine of the S1VP soon started to drive me mad. If you're working in an area with reasonable ambient noise you might not notice it, but in a quiet room it's quite distrubing.
As always price has to rear it’s head, and although this little VAIO is not what I’d call cheap, it’s by no means overpriced either. With a street price of £1,699 including VAT, you’re getting a well specified and beautifully crafted notebook computer. It may be a little larger and heavier than Sony’s amazing VAIO X505VP, but it’s also better specified, has pretty much everything integrated, sports a better screen and comes in at £400 less. If you want the ultimate IT style icon, you’re going to have to go for the X505VP, but for me the S1VP is a better all round package - it’s still beautifully designed, but doesn’t compromise on functionality.
Sony has yet again produced a superb slim line notebook computer that can handle anything you’re likely to throw at it. The screen is simply breathtaking and the performance and battery life are both impressive considering its size. Almost everything is perfect with the S1VP, but ultimately the excessively noisy fan means that this little VAIO misses out on an award. If you can live with a variable whine in the background though, you'll fall in love with this Sony, much like I initially did.