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Sony Vaio VGN-SZ3XP - Sony Vaio VGN-SZ3XP
In SYSmark 2002 the overall score of 361 is an 11 per cent increase over the 323 from the SZ2 - an increase that's not to be sniffed at. Internet Content Creation was the biggest beneficiary, increasing some 17 per cent. In PC Mark the CPU score not surprisingly increases, while the memory also goes up, due to having twice the complement of RAM in our review sample.
The MobileMark comparisons with the SZ2 are actually quite confusing. On the SZ3, I used Sony's performance profiles to get the best combination of battery life and performance, which is what you would do if you were actually working on them. On the SZ2, I left it on more demanding settings.
This meant that even with the slightly higher power drain of the Core 2 Duo, compared to the Core Duo, the SZ3 was able to last for a massive 442 minutes in stamina mode - that's 7.3 hours running office apps. That's with the profile set to Ultimate battery, which turns off all components not essential for the tasks in hand, such as networking or the DVD drive. 442 minutes is pretty impressive. It's still less than the Sony VAIO-VGN TX3XP that eked out over nine hours from its Core Solo processor. However, considering the far greater power of the Core2 Duo it's still very impressive, though inevitably the Core 2 Duo would have been heavily throttled down during battery testing by the Sony Ultimate battery power profile.
As the SZ3 is about £200 more than the SZ2 it doesn't feel as if you're getting the HSDPA Express card for free. It's still worth it though as it really opens up mobile computing. No need to hunt for hotspots- just open it up and signal strength permitting, you're online.
This is where the long battery life really comes into its own. Of course, if you're running with the Express card you'll be draining power much faster but it's good to know your starting point is a lot higher than most notebooks.
It may look identical to the SZ2, but the bundle of an Express card based T-Mobile HSDPA module is a great feature - especially when the 3.6Mbps networks come online in the first half of 2007. Furthermore the extra power of Core 2 Duo is most welcome making the increase in price over the SZ2, quite easy to deal with.