On the connectivity side of things the SZ6 is also something of a mixed bag, lacking in some departments but making up for these deficiencies in other respects. For example, only two USB ports is a little disappointing, but this is offset by the fact you get both PC Card and 34mm ExpressCard slots.
In addition, although there’s a D-Sub connection there’s no S-Video TV-out, which is a fairly regular addition to most notebooks. There are also no such niceties such as HDMI or eSATA, which are becoming popular lately, though they’ve yet to become essential on all notebooks just yet.
Going round the notebook, most the connections are on the sides with none being placed upfront. On the left edge there are the ubiquitous Mic and Headphone jacks, which are followed by a 4-pin FireWire. After these is the D-Sub port, with a nicely integrated PC Card slot and a MagicGate memory card reader slot a little further along. Naturally, only a tiny minority of silly people are tied to Sony memory card formats, and Sony does at least include an ExpressCard adapter that supports more common formats such as Secure Digital, MMC and xD.
On the right edge most of the space is taken up by the optical drive, but next to this you’ll find the two USB ports and the 34mm ExpressCard slot just above them. Finally, the Modem and Ethernet ports are tucked snugly behind a flap which helps maintain the sleek and consistent lines of the chassis.
Also worth noting is the rather unusual use of an external antenna for the embedded HSDPA, and it’s not entirely clear whether this is meant to improve reception or simply a result of not being able to fit an internal one. In any case it’s quite tastefully implemented, not proving too great a distraction to the overall aesthetic.
Another area where Sony VAIO systems are traditionally quite strong is in bundled software, and the SV61VN is no different. There’s a huge array of VAIO branded utilities, some decent, some not so, however of particular note is the inclusion of Adobe Photoshop Elements – the paired down version of its famous Photoshop image editing software.
Also included is a free trial of Office 2007, full versions of Microsoft Works 8.5 and Roxio Easy Home Creator along with a trial version of Norton Internet Security. Overall you’re not left wanting for much, even if you won’t find much use for some of utilities on hand.