Sony hasn’t skimped on the internal components either. Driving things along is an Intel Core Duo T2500 CPU, clocked at 2.0GHz. The processor is backed up by 1GB of RAM, which is adequate, but I would have preferred to have seen 2GB in a machine like this. One of the beauties of a dual core processor is that it makes true multitasking a reality – something that’s very important with a machine like the AR11S. I had the AR11S burning a Blu-ray disc, while Media Center was playing live TV and I was busy writing this review – despite everything that was going on, the system stayed as responsive as ever.
Graphics are taken care of by an nVidia GeForce GO 7600 card, complete with 256MB of dedicated memory. This is a pretty decent mid-range mobile graphics chipset, but don’t expect to be able to play the latest games at anywhere near the native resolution of the built-in screen.
As with any Media Center PC, you need a lot of hard disk space, because all that recorded video and all those digital images take up a lot of room. Thankfully Sony has included two, yes that’s right two 100GB hard disks. Now, the review unit that I was sent had both drives configured as independent volumes, but the AR11S does have RAID functionality so you could stripe the two drives for ultimate performance, or mirror them for ultimate data integrity – of course you’d have to give up half of the capacity for the latter option.
If you want to get the AR11S connected, you’ll be spoilt for choice. There’s an Intel PRO/Wireless 395ABG wireless adapter supporting 802.11a,b and g, along with a Bluetooth adapter. There’s also a built-in 56k modem and an Intel wired Ethernet adapter – although this is somewhat disappointingly limited to 100Mbit/sec rather than Gigabit.
Connection points abound with this notebook, but for a change I’m going to start at the back. This is where the aerial connection is and for once there is a proper UK aerial socket provided, rather than a foreign or cut down socket that requires some kind of adapter. Well done Sony for making it extremely simple to hook the AR11S up to your external aerial. Also at the rear is the power socket and a USB 2.0 port.
The right side is where the vast majority of connections are. Here you’ll find both modem and Ethernet ports nestling behind a plastic flap, but it’s the next flap along that’s really interesting. The second flap hides the HDMI port, a D-Sub port, S-Video input and output, a Line-out and a four-pin FireWire port. Also on the right is a Type II PC Card slot, an Express Card slot and two further USB 2.0 ports.
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