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Sony VAIO VGN-U70P

The bottom right corner also houses three buttons. One of these controls the brightness of the backlight, another takes you into a hardware setup menu populated with volume control, brightness, mute etc. The third button fires up a rather strange handwriting recognition/text entry utility that I couldn’t quite get the hang of. Now, before you think that I shouldn’t be reviewing a PC if I can’t figure out the applications, let me point out that the Type U is only available in Japan, so everything on this device, including Windows XP, is Japanese. Now, I do happen to be learning Japanese, but I’m not very good yet, and I haven’t even started on reading and writing!

The final two buttons are in the bottom left corner, and are labelled Zoom and Rotate. The Zoom button will change the resolution of the screen – you can drop it down to 640 x 480, or push it up to 1,024 x 768, 1,280 x 1,024 or 1,600 x 1,200. Of course the higher resolutions present you with a virtual desktop that you have to scroll around. The Rotate button spins the display into a portrait format, which can be very handy when you’re reading a long document.

On the left side of the chassis is the power switch, a hold switch to stop any buttons being pressed inadvertently, and a headphone socket. The headphone socket also accepts a Sony type remote control and thankfully one is supplied in the box, complete with backlit display. On the right is a single USB port, a hardware switch for the integrated 802.11b wireless adapter and a control+alt+del button – absolutely imperative for any Windows based device.

On the top you’ll find a standby button, a MemoryStick slot and a CompactFlash slot. It’s good to see that Sony is giving you the option of using a different memory card format from it’s own MemoryStick. Here you’ll also find a couple of clips that hold the battery in place – the battery takes up the whole back of the device.

The Type U also comes with fully featured docking station that angles the screen perfectly for working at a desk. Integrated into the docking station are four USB ports, a four-pin FireWire port, a D-SUB for connecting the Type U to an External monitor, an Ethernet port and the power socket.

Also bundled is a cute little fold away USB keyboard, that’s a perfect partner for the Type U when it’s in the docking station. Despite being completely flat, the action on the keyboard is pretty good, although the selector buttons are too close to the Spacebar and I found myself hitting them by mistake. There’s also a trackpoint mounted at the centre of the keyboard. Finally, there’s a padded case that the Type U slips into, to keep it warm and toasty when you’re carrying it around.

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