But there’s more to the screen on the TX1XP than first meets the eye – Sony has equipped it with LED backlights, instead of the more common fluorescent light sources. There are a few key advantages to LED backlighting with some more important than others on a device like this. First up, an LED backlight gives you a wider colour gamut, making it ideal for image editing – now this is a big bonus for a large desktop screen like the NEC SpectraView LCD2180 LED Backlight (I have one of these in the lab right now, so expect a review soon), but how important it will be on an 11.1in display is debatable.
Thankfully the other advantages of an LED backlight screen are very apparent in the TX1XP. Because LEDs are small, the lid of the TX1XP is incredibly thin, enhancing the svelte dimensions and light weight. Also, LEDs are far less battery hungry – something borne out by the very impressive MobileMark results.
However, it’s not all rosy on the LED backlight front. One very apparent problem is the amount of light bleeding from the base of the screen. I pointed this out to Sony when I met with them last week and was told that work is being done to resolve this issue – I imagine this means that the next generation LED backlight screens won’t suffer as badly from light bleed, but as it stands you’ll have to make the decision as to whether this is annoying enough to put you off the TX1XP.
Creating a good keyboard in a very slim and light notebook is always a challenge, but Sony has built on years of experience in this department. The keyboard looks a little odd with silver keys that are raised in the middle – in fact it looks a little like a child’s toy notebook rather than the real thing. However, once you start typing on the keyboard you realise that it’s anything but a toy. The travel is deceptively long and each key feels completely separates from the next. There’s the merest hint of flex when you’re hammering keys at speed, but nothing that you’d notice, and it doesn’t suffer from the tell tale rattle that affects some keyboards in thin and light machines. You’re probably getting bored of me saying that the keyboard isn’t up to the standards of an IBM (or should that be Lenovo these days) ThinkPad, but much as I love the ThinkPad X40, it’s bigger and heavier than the TX1XP and doesn’t have an optical drive built in.