Above the keyboard you’ll find a set of multimedia controls for the AV mode. Pressing the AV mode button when the notebook is powered down will start the machine up in a Linux shell that allows you to playback CD and DVD discs, as well as show slideshows of images. The advantage of using AV mode is that it draws a lot less battery power than booting into Windows and given that the TX2XP managed a DVD playback time of five hours and 41 minutes under Windows, you’re probably looking at well over six hours using the AV mode.
Despite the very slim and light construction of the TX2XP, there’s a decent amount of features crammed into the chassis. The right hand side is dominated by the integrated DVD writer, along with a D-SUB port. The front is pretty stuffed full – there are headphone and microphone jacks, volume controls, mute mutton, a hardware switch for the integrated wireless adapters and memory card slots for SD, MMC and MemoryStick formats.
On the left hand side there’s a plastic flap hiding an USB 2.0 port and a modem socket. There’s also a Type II PC Card slot and another USB 2.0 port. Most of the rear is taken up by the battery, but there’s still room for a four-pin FireWire port and an Ethernet port. You’ve also got integrated 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth, so pretty much all the connections options are covered.
Inside the TX2XP you’ll find an Intel Pentium M Ultra Low Voltage CPU running at 1.2GHz, just like the TX1XP. The processor is supported by 1GB of system memory, just like the TX1XP. Storage has increased since the previous model – Sony has squeezed an 80GB drive in this time instead of the 60GB unit seen in the TX1XP. Graphics still come courtesy of the Intel integrated chipset, although this time it’s the 915GM which can grab up to 128MB of system memory.
I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that the TX2XP isn’t sporting a Core Duo chip, but then I guess Sony didn’t want to adversely affect the battery life, which is surely this notebook’s best feature. Running Mobile Mark 2005, the TX2XP turned in a truly staggering battery life of seven hours 11 minutes – that’s pretty much the Holy Grail of notebook technology, a full day’s work on a single charge. I took the TX2XP with me to the Intel Developer Forum and while I was covering the event, I didn’t even bother to take the power brick with me – the battery life was so good that I was able to work for the entire day without ever having to search for a power socket!
However, long battery life can often come at the detriment of performance, and I definitely found the TX2XP to be a little sluggish when using internal power. By default the 1.2GHz ULV Pentium M processor will clock down by 50 per cent when on battery power – so your processor is only running at 598MHz. Now I know that I’m what you’d probably call a “power user” when it comes to notebooks, but having lots of applications open, and then trying to edit images using Photoshop left the TX2XP struggling at times. To be fair, I was editing eight megapixel images, which is hardly the normal kind of duties that a machine like this would perform, and when running general office tasks the TX2XP was as responsive as any other notebook. Perhaps when Intel releases an Ultra Low Voltage Core Duo chip Sony can put it into the TX3XP and this problem with disappear – mmmm a Core Duo T Series VAIO, I can’t wait.