Opening up the lid reveals the same 11.1in screen seen in the TX2XP, although that’s no bad thing. Considering the small dimensions it’s still impressive to see that the native resolution on this display is 1,366 x 768, especially since you can still get notebooks with 15.4in screens running lower resolutions. Like previous TX models, the screen uses an LED backlight, which brings with it two significant advantages. First, you get a much wider colour gamut than you would using a traditional light source, but second and far more important, you get much improved battery life.
When I looked at the TX1XP I noted that there was a significant amount of light bleed from the bottom of the screen. Sony improved on the light bleed problem with the TX2XP, and has almost eradicated it with the TX3XP – to be fair it’s only noticeable at all when you’re working in a darkened room. As well as the LED backlight technology, the screen also employs Sony’s X-Black high contrast coating which makes colours vivid and lifelike, and makes the TX3XP a great little mobile video player. When you couple this with the incredible battery life offered by the TX3XP, you’ll have no need for a mobile media player on those long flights and train journeys.
No matter how many times I look at a TX notebook, I’m still impressed by the design – familiarity definitely does not breed contempt in this case. There isn’t an inch of space that Sony hasn’t utilised, but the TX3XP still looks great. The cylindrical spine to the notebook is populated with the power button, along with a set of multimedia buttons. From here you can play/pause, stop and skip through a DVD without ever having to resort to the touchpad. The eject button here is particularly useful though, since the DVD drive is so slim that ejecting it manually can be somewhat fiddly.
There’s no getting around the fact that the keyboard on the TX3XP is small, but what do you expect from one of the smallest notebooks you can buy. But despite the small dimensions this keyboard is pretty good, with a degree of travel that belies the slim chassis. Sony has also managed to make the Tab, Caps Lock, Shift, Return and Backspace keys large, just the way they should be. Another bonus is the fact that the Ctrl key is located at the bottom left of the keyboard – some notebook manufacturers place the Fn key here instead, which can be annoying if you use a lot of keyboard shortcuts. Even the cursor keys are dropped away from the main keyboard – if Sony was pushed for space, it doesn’t show.