A couple of months back I reviewed the Sony VAIO T2XP and pretty much fell in love with it. I carried it around with me while I was covering Computex in Taipei and it proved to be a superb travelling companion. I’ve used a host of ultra-portable notebooks over the years, but the T2XP won me over by being small and light, while still sporting an integrated DVD writer. Now, although the T2XP was absolutely perfect for me, I imagine that there are some people out there that would find the small dimensions a bit of an issue. Some may find the 1,280 x 768 resolution on a 10.6in screen a little too small, while the reduced size keyboard may also be a problem for anyone with large hands. But Sony is well aware that the T2XP isn’t for everyone, and that’s where the VAIO VGN-S4M comes in.
The S4M might not really fall into the ultra-portable category, but it definitely falls into the slim, light and sexy camp. At 1.95kg you can carry the S4M around with you all day, without it being too much of a burden. Dimension wise the S4M is still quite svelte at 312 x 249 x 35mm and it should slide with ease into even the smallest of bags.
Like most Sony notebooks, the S4M is finished in matt silver, and it looks pretty damn good whether open or closed. The lid is adorned with a large VAIO logo in the centre and a small Sony logo just about it. The lid is sprung closed, so there’s no catch or release button to fiddle with – it simply opens and closes with consummate ease.
When you open the lid you’re greeted with a 13.3in widescreen display finished with Sony’s X-Black high-contrast coating. As always, whether you like an X-Black screen or not is a matter of personal preference, but I find that the bright and vivid colours more than make up for the increased reflection. For a notebook that’s likely to be carried with you whenever you’re travelling, you’re probably going to find yourself watching the odd movie – with this in mind I’m happy to say that the S4M makes an excellent mobile movie player. General Windows performance isn’t too shabby either, and the 1,280 x 800 resolution is more generous than non-widescreen thin and light notebooks tend to offer.