Got the Vaio bx-196sp, as we really liked the look of the screen, the X-Black screen is the best I have seen on a laptop. I would recommend that before you decide to buy any laptop, get yourself off to somewhere like PC World and see the screens on these.
The laptop is quite a stylish design, however the lid outer gets scratched very easily. The processor is the Centrino 1.8Ghz, which should provide suitable performance for most office tasks. The integrated graphics chip is an Intel chip, so it's not a gaming machine, which is a shame as the screen would compliment a high-end card.
There is integrated sound, which is the norm for any computer these days, and an integrated camera. Oddly though, there is no integrated microphone. I have seen some of Sony's latest offerings and this issue appears to have been resolved now. The camera isn't brilliant, but suffices as a webcam. A pleasing addition is the integrated finger-print reader, which can configured to 'replace' entering username and password details for most password requests. There are the usual USB connections, of which there are three, firewire, modem, Gigabit LAN and VGA output. Also nice, is the provision for reading memory cards in either SD or Memory Stick Pro format. Bluetooth and 802.11 b/g wireless lan is also included.
The software suite that is supplied with the laptop consists of Windows XP Professional, Sony's Protector Suite for the fingerprint reader and encrypted file storage safe. You also get trial versions of Microsoft Office and Symantec Anti-virus. I can understand Office only being a trial, due to it's cost for a license, but the AV solution should have at least been a full years protection.
I find the keyboard as comfortable to use as any of the laptops I've come across. The battery life is only around the 1.5 to 2 hour area using the standard battery, a long-life battery is available if that isn't sufficient, adds a little to the weight, but can give up to 5 hours on a single charge.
This laptop was provided by work so I can't tell you a price unfortunately, and there are other Vaio's available now that have my little niggles fixed. For this reason, I can't recommend buying this particular model.
UPDATE: My laptop is still working fine, even after getting soaked outside on a job, but others around me have had problems with theirs:
One has had a hard disk drive fail. One was away for weeks getting a screen repaired, and they formatted the hard disk whilst away. One has developed issues booting into Windows but only intermittently.
As earlier, I'd recommend looking at the more recent additions to the range.
Sony is one of the biggest company in this world and Sony Vaio is one of their top most brand for laptops.Sony Vaio BX196SP offers all of the performance and functionality you require to overcome the business challenge you face daily.Its an impressive 15.4" X-black WGA widescreen LCD.Providing 1280 X 800 resolution and built on Sony X Black's technology.This notebook enhances your business presentations.All packed in the sigma chassis enabling you to access all ports in the notebook for easy connection of external devices.This notebook also has a swappable multi-function bay with DVD+/- RW Bay unit,Finger Print Recognition sensor(where your finger print is your password for easy access) and Trusted Platform Module(TPM) security chip for extra protection from data theft and an in built motion eye camera combined with Bluetooth Technology which would give that extra bit for your vedio conferencing.