Product Type: Sony laptops
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Sony quality at budget price
Sony Vaio FX501
Member Name: seanblee
Sony Vaio FX501
Date: 21/06/02, updated on 21/06/02 (1279 review reads)
Advantages: Nice price, Quality feel, Great screen and speakers
Disadvantages: LAN connector behind flap can be annoying, Modem is slightly flakey at times
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.
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