The touchpad is thankfully far enough away from the Spacebar to avoid any accidental cursor repositioning. Even if you have really big thumbs, Sony has sunk the touchpad into the chassis slightly making it near impossible to strike while typing even if you’re trying. The two selector buttons below the touchpad are large and easy to access when moving the pointer. The click when pressing them is reassuringly solid leaving you in no doubt that you’ve done so.
The left side of the chassis is pretty feature rich and I doubt that Sony could have squeezed more in there if it had tried. To start with there’s an integrated floppy drive which is becoming an unusual addition these days even in some desktops. Above the floppy drive is a Memory Stick reader which will please anyone with a Sony digital camera or music player. There are two PC Card slots that can accommodate one Type III or two Type II PC cards. Finally you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, headphone and mic sockets, and a video out port that needs a mini-jack converter.
At the rear is another USB 2.0 port, a parallel port, a D-SUB connector, modem port and an Ethernet port. The right side of the chassis is taken up by the DVD writer and the battery.
Performance wise the PCG-FR315S does pretty well turning in a SYSmark score of 212. This should make it perfectly usable as a desktop replacement. You won’t be playing many games with the integrated graphics chipset, but this really is more of a small business solution or a general home PC for consumers that don’t want a desktop spoiling their décor.
Battery life is just a touch under two hours, which isn’t bad for a desktop replacement notebook. Obviously it’s nowhere near the latest Centrino based models, but long battery life isn’t what this machine is all about.
There’s a decent bundle of software included aimed mainly at the consumer who’s looking for a digital video editing solution. The highlights in this area are a copy of Adobe Premiere 6.0 LE and Adobe Photoshop Elements. Anyone who’s into either digital photography or digital video will benefit from these inclusions. Also the FireWire port will make it easy for you to transfer digital video from a DV camcorder onto the notebook.
It’s usually at this point in a Sony notebook review that I mention the scary price and have to say that the high-quality build and specification goes some way to justifying this. However, with this particular Sony notebook the price isn’t anything that needs to be justified. With a street price of only £1,160.93, you’re getting a lot of notebook for your money, all wrapped up in a high-quality package.
If you’re looking for a desktop replacement notebook the Sony Vaio PCG-FR315S should be pretty high on your list. It’s well built and is a joy to work with for extended periods. The Onyx Black screen is superb, and although it doesn’t have as high a resolution as some notebook displays it’s amazingly clear and bright. Considering the reasonable price, Sony has made this notebook a very attractive proposition.