Sony VAIO VGN-AR61ZU – Entertainment Notebook Review - Sony VAIO VGN-AR61ZU Review

The silver edge surrounding the AR61ZU hides a plethora of connectors and ports. On the right is a small flap that hides the Ethernet port and modem socket. Next to this is a larger flap which protects D-Sub and HDMI ports, along with S-Video in/out, Line-in and a four-pin FireWire port. Further along are both PC Card and ExpressCard slots, and next to these are two USB ports.

At the front you’ll find a hardware switch for the wireless adapters, memory card readers for MemoryStick, SD and MMC cards, and the sliding catch that secures the lid. The left is dominated by the Blu-ray writer, which will burn to BD-R and BD-RE media in both single and dual layer formats. You can also burn to every type of DVD media, including DVD-RAM. Next to the drive are sockets for headphones, Microphone and optical digital out. Finally the rear is pretty barren apart from the aerial connector for the TV tuner, a third USB port and the power connector.

When it comes to performance, the AR61ZU gives a good account of itself, which is hardly surprising considering the hardware specification. What was surprising however, was that this behemoth managed to last almost two hours on battery power, which is no mean feat. Put simply, if you traded in your desktop for the AR61ZU, you wouldn’t be compromising on power, unless you’re a hardcore PC gamer of course.

Vista may be a resource hog, but the integration of Media Center ensures a seamless and easy to use entertainment experience. The integrated digital TV tuner means that the AR61ZU really can be your whole entertainment system in one box. Even standard definition content from Freeview channels looked pretty good on this machine, which is impressive considering the amount of scaling involved to get the picture displayed on the 1,920 x 1,200 resolution.

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