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Sony VAIO VGN-FW48E/H - 16.4in Laptop - Sony VAIO VGN-FW48E/H - 16.4in Laptop

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Running the show inside the silver chassis of the FW48E/H is a Core 2 Duo T6400 running at 2.0GHz. It's not exactly the fastest CPU on the planet, but should be more than up to multimedia duties and everyday tasks. It is backed by 3GB of RAM, which has probably already led you to conclude that the installed version of Vista Premium is 32-bit, since that's about as much memory as the OS can access.

As you'd expect from a machine that's marketed as a multimedia powerhouse, the FW48E features a discrete graphics card in the form of AMD's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470. It only comes with 256MB of RAM yet puts in a good performance; you should be able to run older games at lower detail settings without a problem. Just for reference, the 3470 managed a decent 30.9 frames per second (fps) in TrackMania Nations Forever at the screen's native resolution and medium detail, however, Call of Duty 4 was barely playable at 22fps on the same settings.

Though 500GB hard drives are becoming more common on laptops, 320GB is still quite generous and for those who want more, external USB-powered storage is becoming cheaper by the day. Finally, Draft N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 are both on hand to help out with wireless duties.

In terms of mobility, the FW48E's 4,400mAh 49Whr battery only lasted three hours and 50 minutes in the Reader benchmark. This could be considered disappointing compared to the Sony's VAIO NS30E, which managed an extra hour onto that using the same battery, but that's the price to be paid for the FW's bigger screen, dedicated graphics and more powerful processor. In actual fact for a machine of this size, the battery life is fairly good, though at 3.3kg the FW is not exactly the most portable Sony should also be commended for under-quoting the machine's battery life on its website at "three hours".

Overall then, is Sony's FW48E entertainment laptop worth getting? At around £740 it's in the upper ranges of its category for price: for just over £700 you can easily get a multimedia laptop from a big brand name such as Acer (similar to the Aspire 6935G) with a significantly faster CPU, more RAM, 64-bit OS, far better graphics card and a Blu-ray drive, not to mention niceties like eSATA. Moreover, if you don't care about battery life that much, Toshiba's Satellite A350D should offer a similar experience for just £526.

Strangely enough, if you insist on an FW VAIO, another cheaper, better option is to select "Build-your-own" under the FW-series section of Sony's website, where you can get essentially the same machine with a larger 400GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM for less: £729 including delivery to be exact. Go figure.


Sony's VAIO VGN-FW48E/H is a generally good multimedia laptop severely let down by its steep price, for which you can get far more from other manufacturers - or even from Sony itself.


July 22, 2009, 5:01 pm

Its nice to look at but you get the feeling from that review that Sony have gone for style over substance in the spec department. Sony seem to be trying to compete with Apple in making the most "stylish" laptop and shoot themselves in the foot with pricing much like Apple do.


July 22, 2009, 6:48 pm


The FW model reviewed here is over a year old. It's just had a spec upgrade (the 4th update hence the FW4 prefix), other than that the actual design is the same as last summer.

I've used one of the FW machines before, they are very good for the home user. I'd sooner pay a bit more for the Vaio brand than plump for a bloody Dell.


July 22, 2009, 10:45 pm


The FW series seriously isn't in the same league as any Apple product. Unlike with Apple style and build quality aren't quite as impressive, so you're really JUST paying for the brand here.


Would you really rather have a Sony badge than a significantly faster CPU, more RAM, 64-bit OS, far better graphics and Blu-ray from the second-biggest computer manufacturer in the world (Acer, never mind Dell), and pay MORE for the privilege?


July 23, 2009, 12:52 pm

Ardjuna, no but I pick a laptop to suit my needs. I current use a Vaio Z series & a MacBook (aluminium 2008 model). My preference is with the Vaio brand at the moment, so should I decide to get a new machine I'd be looking at the Vaio range before looking elsewhere.

It's not just about the specification for me. I find the screen, keyboard & build quality on my Vaio exceptional. The fact that it came with a 3 year warranty was another important factor. Sometimes it's worth paying a bit more for what I believe to be a premium product.

Regarding the FW model reviewed, I don't require huge processing power, so I would opt for the FW over the Dell/Acer/HP equivalent should I be in the market for a laptop like this.

It's all about personal preferences at the end of the day...


July 23, 2009, 2:16 pm


Always nice to get a reply, and your point about personal preferences is certainly true enough.

We agree that the VAIO Z is a great machine, as you can see: http://www.trustedreviews.com/.... Just keep in mind it's not indicative of the quality of Sony's entire range, though aside from the high price there's not much wrong with the FW.


July 23, 2009, 7:26 pm

£645 for something that is stylish and a decent performer seems to be alright. While the Acer offers better spec, at the end of the day it is much like buying a car. Sometimes people pay a little bit more for looks.

I do find Monkey's comment funny. Can you get a 16" notebook for £742 from Apple?


July 24, 2009, 1:02 am

i keep looking at my macbook keyboard and this keyboard and still can't figure why apple don't put those extra keys on their machines (end, pg up, pg down, a friggin' delete button)

and why the fn key is still in the wrong place.

Mike 30

September 25, 2009, 3:10 pm

I love this Vaio Laptop, my cosine bought one from this <a href="http://vaiousa.com/"&... Brand Laptops Website</a> and I think they have the best price on the market.


December 3, 2009, 8:27 pm

I am thinking of getting this now as the prices have decreased. May be able to get it for around the £570 mark.

Richard Collier

August 19, 2010, 8:45 pm

I've been using this laptop for a year now and would completely recommend it. I paid £599 in Sept 2009 and have since written a dissertation on it - which was a very easy process, and yes though the keys at first seem a little far apart you get used to this very quickly.

My one complaint may be that the media short-cut keys don't have a mute button in them, so I've had to store the mute function as the programmable function button. (s1)

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