Sony VAIO VGN-S1VP – Notebook Review - Sony VAIO VGN-S1VP Review

The S1VP carries Centrino branding, so you’re getting both an Intel Pentium M CPU and an Intel wireless network adapter inside the sleek chassis. The former is a 1.7GHz chip which is currently happily ticking over at 281MHz as I’m on battery power. Even with the CPU running at such a small fraction of its rated speed, I can’t say that the S1VP feels sluggish or slow in any way. In fact it feels as if 1.7GHz would be a significant overkill for running general office applications. Supporting the CPU is 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard disk – the latter is a welcome addition to a notebook this small. The other part of the Centrino equation is an Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG WiFi card that, as the name suggests, supports both the 802.11b and 802.11g standards. In case you don’t find yourself near a WiFi hotspot, the S1VP also has an integrated Bluetooth adapter, so you can always connect to the Internet via your mobile phone if you desperately need to access an important email.

If there’s one part of the internal specification that’s a little under par, it’s the graphics solution. The S1VP sports an ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics chipset which isn’t going to win the affections of anyone with mobile gaming aspirations. That said, there is a version of this machine that uses the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 chipset, which will let you have a bit of a frag-fest while you’re on a train, although it carries with it a price premium. To be fair though, most notebook users who are looking for a slim and light solution are unlikely to want to play games on the move – not least because that small form factor will be negated by the need to carry a mouse and some headphones along for the ride.

Taking a quick glance around the chassis of the S1VP, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sony has skimped on the connection options, but that thankfully is not the case. You may not spot the two USB 2.0 ports and four-pin FireWire port on the right of the case at first, because they are cunningly hidden behind a flap, ensuring that nothing untoward gets stuck inside them. Unlike the usual rubber bungs, this flap is constructed from solid plastic and feels robust enough to last the lifetime of the notebook. On the left hand side a similar flap hides the Ethernet port and modem socket, although the headphone port, mic socket and D-SUB are all exposed. Also on the left is a single Type II PC Card slot, that is protected by a spring loaded flap, rather than being filled with a spacer that would eventually get lost.

At the front of the unit is a MemoryStick slot that will accept standard MemoryStick as well as MemoryStick Pro cards. Also at the front is the optical drive, and not only is it a bonus to have an integrated optical drive in such a slim notebook, but Sony has gone the whole hog and made it a DVD writer. This is a great inclusion and means that you can backup your data for safety, and transfer files to another machine if necessary. At the front of the palm rest is an array of indicator lights for power, battery, hard disk, optical drive, MemroyStick, WiFi and Bluetooth. Next to the lights is a switch that turns the wireless networking on or off. Sony also pre-installs an application that lets you decide whether the switch activates WiFi, Bluetooth or both.

As far as performance goes the S1VP holds its own well against other slim line models. Running MobileMark the Sony turned in a battery life time of over three and a half hours, which is pretty respectable for a notebook this size. The battery is definitely good enough to keep you working all the way from London to Paris on Eurostar, while the performance score of 181 shows that the S1VP is not throttling back too much on performance to achieve a decent battery life. The SYSmark 2002 score of 204 is also very respectable for a slim and light notebook, and you should be able throw pretty much anything you like at this little machine.

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