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The PCG-FX501 serves as an excellent entry-level notebook, boasting enough processing power to deal with any task you could reasonably ask a notebook to perform, such as word processing documents, spreadsheets and email-internet access. It runs with an AMD Duron 1.1GHz CPU, supported by 256MB of RAM and a 20GB Hard Drive split into two partitions, which basically means applications and data can be kept separate from each other. That's only really a concern for people that like setting up their systems that way as many PCs on the market today only have a single partition anyway. A cautionary note, however. The 501 comes with 4 "restore" CDs which when used, return the 501 to its factory settings. If you haven't backed up your data before using them, you'll lose it. Peripheral ports on the 501 are located mostly on the back of the 501. From left to right are the DC in socket, a USB port, hidden by a snap-down panel are an RJ11 network socket, an additional monitor socket, an LPT printer port and a nine-pin male serial port, with a second USB port and finally an RJ45 socket for the internal modem completing the set. The 501 has served me faithfully for almost seven months now, in many more roles than I'm sure SONY ever intended. For five months, the 501 was my home computer. The hardware inside is man enough to support most games that I play, with only the 8MB of available graphics memory causing me any real problems. The 501 becomes a DVD player with the easy-to-use WinDVD software and even a jukebox with the powerful Real jukebox program bundled with the system.. I travel a lot in my job, and now the 501 travels with me. As a matter of fact, I'm using my 501 to type up this review while enjoying the North Devon sunshine and scenery. The battery lasts for a good couple of hours on an overnight charge and is perfect for ou
t-and-about users. The 501 may not have fancy blue-tooth or any super cool gadgets but it does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it all extremely well. One gripe I do have about the system is that it runs on a Windows XP Home operating system. Sure, XP has all the bells and whistles it could ever need, but for a computer engineer that likes to tweak his system just the way he likes it, I find XP to be quite restricting. I won't go into that too much here as this is a review about the 501, not XP. Suffice it to say, had the 501 been made available with Windows 2000, or even Windows Me, I would have snapped one up myself rather than buying it second hand from a friend. The 501 looks like it can handle a tumble or two, and this has certainly proven to be the case. My one year old daughter often goes looking for the Daddy's computer and has more than once found a way to pull it off my desk, or worse still, use it as a stepping stone to pull that difficult-to-reach wallpaper from the wall. Each time, the 501 has come through with perhaps a little cosmetic damage, but that really is all. I actually bought mine from a friend for £700. In conclusion, the 501 is a more than capable notebook, more suited to business / administrative use than for gamers. If it's games play you want, get a console. If it's a handy, portable workstation that will serve you well pretty much as soon as it comes out of the box, then the 501 is for you
I was so happy i was getting this. I went to best buy and spent 2,500 buckaroos. I couldn't wait to use it. Until i got done setting it it all up for and hour then turned it on and realized it was as slow as molasses. It took about 6-10 min. just to load windows. Well i thought this cant be right maybe the IE will be faster. I went to open internet explorer and it took about 3 min. to load one page. Well i thought this must of been defective or it definatley wasn't worth my 2,500 bucks. So i returned it. If your getting a lap top i suggest NOT getting this one. Its made of cheap over seas parts including the mother board. Hope this is useful. JAY
I bought my PCG-FX501 about 6 months ago, and I'm delighted with it. It has many qualities not unusual in a laptop twice its price, and yet it still manages to come in at under a grand. I'd always wanted a laptop computer, and when I finally had the money to buy one, Sony was my brand of choice. They're always styled nicely, and previous experience with other Sony products has led me to believe that Sony produce well-built, high-quality items. I wasn't disappointed either. On opening the box, I found the laptop itself (duh), the mains adapter/charger and an 'egg box' containing assorted cables, CDs and manuals. The laptop was packaged very securely, minimising the risk of damage in shipping. Once I'd unpacked the laptop and plugged it in, I powered up. First I had to go through the final bits of Windows XP Home setup, entering the required personal information and accepting the license agreement, and then I was in. I was presented with a very attractive desktop wallpaper and icons for many programs. One of the nice things about this laptop is the amount of bundled software. First thing I did was register the laptop, followed shortly by updating the BIOS. This was a complete cinch; all I had to do was download a file and it makes a boot disk. Insert the disk and restart and everything is done automatically. The 256MB RAM is enough for most things, and runs Windows XP quite comfortably. The quoted battery life is a little on the generous side; however, I can get about 3 hours out of a single charge, which isn't bad at all. The 1GHz Duron CPU has quite a bit of grunt when throttled all the way up, but PowerNow! allows it to throttle right back to 500MHz when it's not in use, doing a fair bit to conserve battery life. The 10GB hard drive fitted to the laptop is an IBM model, and works nicely to save power when combined with the power management utility from IBM's own website, which uses performance
controls to reduce power consumption when on battery, but boost performance on mains power. The on-board ATi 8MB graphics have caused a few crashes, but nothing major. Driver updates for this card seem to be nonexistant, but I don't think that's too much of a problem. Sound is quite good for the size of the speakers; it uses the on-board VIA AC97 codec to provide audio, which is perfectly adequate for the machine's intended role. The keyboard is fine for extended typing sessions, and the trackpad is perfectly usable. My only real gripe with the laptop is the on-board modem. It's not the best, and it's not overly reliable. Having said that, what more can be expected from a soft-modem? Also of minor irritation to me is the fact that the socket for the on-board NIC (which is also very good) is behind the flap on the back, so when you're connected to a LAN you have to have the flap down. However, both of these are minor when compared to the overall standard of the laptop.
I had to get a laptop for my work, and in order to convince my boss that this was the one, I carried ot a study of all the laptops I could find in and around this price range. What I found was that no laptop packs this much punch at this price with so few compromises. I have to add a cautionary tale before I get too carried away. The first one I received had a problem that made the keyboard and touchpad work intermittently. Thankfully, it was quickly swapped out by the retailer. Sony have now acknowledged the problem and corrected in a BIOS upgrade. Any new machines should have this update already. The positive aspects of this laptop are as follows. The screen is excellent. It is a 14.1" TFT that is both crisp and bright. There is lots of built in hardware, including LAN and modem, 2 USB ports, Firewire, 2 PCMCIA slots, TV and VGA out, DVD drive, floppy drive (the trend is towards removing them these days - a mistake I feel). You cannot fault the value for money - at this price most other laptops will ask you to compromise in terms of screen size, memory, hard drive space or DVD drive. The memory and hard drive space of this laptop are ample. The 1GHz Duron processor is plenty fast for the majority of tasks you would ask this machine to carry out. The negative aspects of this laptop are as follows. The quality of the built in sound system is only adequate. I suppose you could argue that as long as you can hear error beeps and perhaps play a CD then it's OK, but Windows XP uses digital audio extraction to play CDs. It falls down a little here. The battery life is not great (about 2 hours depending on the power scheme you use), could be better. With that in mind, you can plug in a second battery. Some people might get put off by the removal of PS2 ports, but it doesn't bother me. The TV-out is composite only where S-video would be better and easy to include, using ATi Rage video.
When I left my job, almost tearfully I had to return my cracking £3000 IBM Thinkpad laptop. A hole was left in my heart but now after many months I have filled the void. After checking my credit card balance and then crying I decided it was time to spend, spend, spend. I wanted a laptop because of the portability, so I can watch DVD's when on the move and for my work. I also wanted something that matched the power and performance of my old £3000 laptop but with a (much) smaller price tag. I finally parted with my (not so) hard earned cash and placed my order for the Sony PCG-FX501. The laptop (or notebook - depending on your vocab) boasts some impressive stats: 14.1 TFT Screen 1 Ghz AMD Processor 20Gb Hard drive DVD Player 256 Meg Ram 8Mb ATI Graphic card (1024 x 780) Windows XP came preinstalled with the machine along with a whole host of other software (but missing Microsoft Office). Obviously when you purchase a laptop you make concessions on the performance and particuarly graphics compared to a desktop PC. But so far I have had no problems with the quality of the image (although I don't play any games). The processor speed and memory is more than adequete for most people who want a laptop for work and home user and DVD drives allows you to watch movies and play your CD's. Also the 20Gb hard drive is fast and big enough to store my pretty large collection of digital photo's and of course all the mpegs I collect in Emails. The size and weight of the machine is pretty standard and you don't have to Mr Universe to carry it around with you. It seems pretty sturdy and has the added option of a 2nd battery pack which allows you to double the time you can use it without plugging into a mains. In this world where computers are out-of-date the moment you buy them and anything over 2 years old is considered extinct, the advice when choosing a PC or lapt
op is to buy the best you can afford. In this case the laptop cost £950 inc VAT. The spec of the machine is more than enough for 99% of people out there and the 2 USB ports replace the soon-to-be obsolete PS/2 ports, as well as providing connectivity to your digital cameras etc... As with all computers you can always upgrade (an important factor) and this machine can be upgraded to 512MB, a larger hard drive can be fitted and CD/ROM Writers internal and external are available. I used to use a machine that cost £3000. So far, the Sony 501 has been superb and works as fast and as well as my old laptop at a third of the price. If your looking for something portable, durable and easy to use (XP was all pre-installed) you can't go wrong with this machine for less the a grand.