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					:: LAPTOP Magazine • Sony VAIO VGN-SZ170P ::                                                                          08/07/2006 03:43 PM




   Sony VAIO VGN-SZ170P
   Thanks to wide screens, faster CPUs, and long-lasting batteries, this ultraportable proves that smaller is
   better.


   Price: $2,599

   by Jamie M. Bsales
   Date Posted: 06/12/2006



                      Arguably the best-looking notebook
                      in this roundup is—not surprisingly—
                      the Sony VAIO VGN-SZ170P.
                      Outside is a handsome black-and-
                      charcoal carbon fiber chassis; open
   the ultrathin lid and you'll find an elegant brushed
   charcoal keyboard deck offset by a silver touchpad.
   The whole package looks and feels classy. At $2,599,
   however, this is by far the most expensive unit here.

   Like the Sharp M4000, the VGN-SZ170P is built
   around a 13.3-inch widescreen display. The large
   screen means a bigger footprint and heavier chassis
   (3.7 pounds) than other ultraportables, but it's a price
   worth paying if this will be your primary machine. The
   glossy display looked stunning during DVD playback,
   but we noticed glare from overhead lights. The stereo
   speakers above the keyboard deliver enough volume
   for a conference table presentation, even if the sound
   is a bit hollow.

   Viewing-angle performance is acceptable side to side, with some loss of brightness but not color shift. Looking
   down from above shows a pronounced color shift. Fortunately, the low profile of the widescreen means you
   won't have many instances when you can't open the lid all the way and view the screen head-on. The
   widescreen LCD gave Sony room to include a full-sized keyboard, and we found it comfortable and responsive.

   The VGN-SZ170P is loaded with security and durability features, including a fingerprint reader, TPM circuitry,
   and an active protection system for the shock-mounted hard drive. Extra touches abound: a built-in DVD
   burner, a Memory Stick slot, and even an embedded webcam and microphone for easy videoconferencing with
   colleagues or video chatting with family while you're on the road.

   Best of all is the dual-mode graphics subsystem. In battery-saving Stamina mode (selectable via a switch above
   the keyboard), the unit relies on the integrated Intel GMA 950 engine. Slide the switch to Speed and reboot, and
   the Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 GPU kicks in. In our tests, the discrete graphics nearly tripled the machine's
   performance on 3DMark03 and did a decent job on F.E.A.R., scoring 23 fps on autodetect settings (in this case,
   800 x 600 resolution). You won't mistake it for a high-end gaming rig, but the performance is fine for more tame
   3D gaming that other ultraportables simply can't handle.

   For connectivity beyond the embedded 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth, Sony offers integrated wireless WAN support
   from Cingular's EDGE network. For our money, we'd opt for a much faster EV-DO or HSDPA wireless
   broadband PC Card solution.

   Still, integrated wireless broadband is just about the only feature missing from the VGN-SZ170P. If you want a
   large screen and usable 3D graphics in a sub-four-pound package that will turn heads, this is the only game in
   town.

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