Even though Sony had limited space to work with, it has still managed to make all the important keys larger, as they should be – the Tab, Caps Lock, Shift, Return and Backspace keys are all large, making it easy to type at speed. Another nice touch is the fact that the Ctrl key is located at the bottom left, where it should be. Many notebooks put the Fn key there instead which can be frustrating for anyone who uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts. The cursor keys are separated slightly from the main keyboard, making it easy to manipulate them, while Lars will be happy to see the Windows key.
Just below the Spacebar is a grey touchpad that performed admirably during my limited time with the TX1XP. Pointer manipulation is smooth and accurate, unlike some of the jerky and random touchpads I’ve seen on other notebooks. Despite the fact that I much prefer trackpoints, the touchpad on offer here is a good one, complete with a scrolling area to the right for navigating through long documents or web pages. Below the touchpad are two large silver buttons mounted just on the edge of the wrist rest – these work fine although I did find myself missing them sometimes and clicking thin air with my thumb instead.
The black lid is adorned only by a small Sony logo and a large VAIO logo in the centre, making the device look minimalist and stylish when it’s closed. Also, the rounded hinging area below the screen where the multimedia buttons reside is silver, giving the TX1XP a stylish two-tone effect when it’s closed.
Under the skin the TX1XP is pretty impressive too. The Ultra-Low Voltage Pentium M CPU ticks over at a more than adequate 1.2GHz, while a generous helping of 1GB of RAM should keep even heavy multi-taskers happy. Of course the Intel Integrated graphics eat up a configurable amount of system memory, but you can set this to the minimum – you won’t be playing games on this machine. A 60GB hard disk is a decent capacity in a notebook this size, although bear in mind that the AV Mode Linux partition takes a small part of that – so don’t go adding up your free capacity in Windows and complain to Sony about being swindled.
Despite the diminutive size, Sony has squeezed a lot around the chassis of the TX1XP. On the right is a D-SUB port for connecting the notebook to an external monitor, along with the integrated DVD writer. The DVD drive will burn to DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R DL and CD-R/RW. Strangely, the eject button on the drive is absolutely tiny, so expect a battle if you don’t have finger nails. Of course you could eject it from Windows, but that’s not always the most convenient method either.