As already mentioned, there’s a brand new Intel Ultra Low Voltage Core 2 Duo CPU running at 1.06GHz inside the TZ11MN. Never before has a notebook this thin and light been equipped with a dual-core CPU, so anyone who has been put off the TX Series due to its single-core nature should be very happy indeed. However, unlike the rest of the new Core 2 Duo range, the ULV part doesn’t run with an 800MHz bus, instead employing a more conservative 533MHz FSB. As a result the TZ11MN isn’t using Intel’s new Mobile 965 Express chipset, instead using the older 945 chipset. This means that the TZ11MN goes part way down the Santa Rosa road, but it’s not compliant to the new platform in the true sense. That said, it would appear that the vast majority of the new features that appeared with the Santa Rosa platform aren’t actually mandatory anyway.
Supporting the new CPU is 1GB of RAM, which is an absolute minimum in these Vista days. The TZ11MN will support up to 2GB of memory and my advice would be to upgrade at the point of purchase, because Vista is seriously memory hungry, so the more you have, the better. There’s an 80GB hard drive, which seems very capacious for a machine of this size, although the higher-end models feature 100GB drives, while the entry level spec makes do with a 60GB version.
If you’ve got £2,099 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a version of the TZ1 with a 32GB solid state hard disk inside, for lightning fast access times, better battery life and no disk fragmentation issues. I’ll be trying to get hold of the SSD version soon and see how it compares to this machine. Personally, I’d rather have an SSD in my notebook, thus eliminating a mechanical point of failure, even if it means lower capacity. After all, how much data do you really need on your ultra-portable notebook?
Connectivity is more impressive than most desktop replacement machines, with an Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Wi-Fi adapter, which supports 802.11a, b and g standards. There’s also integrated Bluetooth for connection to a mobile phone, equipped digital camera or a headset. Sony hasn’t skimped on the wired connectivity either with a Gigabit Ethernet adapter as well as the obligatory 56k modem.
Put simply, the TZ11MN is an absolute joy to use. Words just can’t describe how rich and vibrant colours look on this screen – I’ve never seen Vista look quite this good before, while a viewing of Apocalypse Now revealed a staggering amount of detail to the lush jungle scenes that I’d forgotten was there. It may only be utilising the integrated Intel graphics chipset, but it still has no problems making the most of Vista’s snazzy Aero desktop.