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This is my new laptop and I use it for everything! Being a university student a laptop is an absolute necessity for both work and pleasure. The Vaio laptops come with the Windows Vista system and although it takes a while to get used to, now I would say I prefer it to the Microsoft XP system. The screen is pretty big- definitely large enough for me- and the laptop looks beautiful. The silver and white combination looks very flash and it resembles an applemac but is not nearly as expensive! It has everything a laptop needs that I can think of, and the deal I got direct from Sony included anti-virus software for a year which was a great help as it took the hassle out of doing it separately. One thing I would say is enquire about memory space. I am finding that I am running out of space and have had to buy separate CDs to transfer files onto.
I have always wanted a Sony Vaio laptop; as far as I'm concerned, there is no laptop out there that comes anywhere close to being as aesthetically pleasing and stylish as the Vaio. In white, the Sony Vaio is by far the most attractive laptop on the market, and when I saw this moderately priced white Sony Vaio sitting there for the taking, I knew that it was something that I just had to own. Macbook's are similarly styled, however I have always preferred the Windows operating system so for me, a Macbook was not a viable option.
In the past, Sony have always priced themselves a bit out of the market by marking up their laptops at a higher cost than similar specification machines, however the VGN-N230 breaks with this tradition and has brought Sony well and truly into the budget laptop market which is great to see.
- The Operating System -
Windows has been the operating system of choice for many for some years now, and utilised here is the latest addition to the family; Windows Vista. This is the Business Edition of the system and can be bought separately at a price of £71 for all those of you interested in Vista currently still using XP. I have read reports of some people having had problems coming to terms with the layout and running of Vista, however I haven't found the layout at all that different to previous versions, and have had no issues whatsoever with the performance. Although more like the MAC Operating System in terms of layout, as far as I'm concerned it is still very typically Windows and for heavy users it shouldn't take long to come to terms with. In the months I have owned this system; Vista has never once crashed or let me down so I for one am extremely pleased with the update.
- Processor -
The processor is an impressive 1.73GHz Intel Core Duo. The dual core processor here runs like a dream, and although the updated Core 2 Duo processor would have been preferable, the processor this laptop does have is still a gem. The great thing about dual core processors is that you can be doing something such as a virus scan, while at the same time simultaneously running Photoshop for instance with ease. While in the past doing this would have been greatly difficult and would have slowed performance down enormously for both applications, the presence of the dual core allows for multi-tasking of this kind whilst not compromising performance of either application. Having used various different processors on numerous machines in the past, I would say there is definitely a noticeable improvement when you come to using a system running a Dual Core processor for the first time.
- The Screen -
At 15.4", the X-Black LCD screen here is plenty big enough for whatever you require it for. Some people prefer the slightly bigger 17" screen, however I find this merely makes the laptop heavy and ease of portability is therefore greatly decreased. A 15.4" screen is in my opinion just right as it's a perfect size to be able to view everything in great detail, yet is not too bulky to carry around when needed. The X-Black LCD is nice and bright, and when playing films etc. on the laptop - image quality is crystal clear, making the visual experience vastly enjoyable.
- RAM -
Installed in this laptop is 1GB of RAM; a necessity amount in this day and age. Truthfully, I would have loved to have had a laptop with 2GB of RAM as with Vista and its resource hungry presence, it is a strong idea t o have the extra gigabyte of RAM and is highly noticeable as regards laptop performance. I did however sacrifice 2GB of RAM in favour of buying a machine I deemed to be extremely beautiful and am happy with, and in fact stand by my decision to do so. If required, adding additional RAM is easily done at an additional cost, so no doubt before long when my bank account will allow for it I will endeavour to upgrade the RAM from one to two gigabytes. When running a dual core processor particularly, the extra gigabyte of RAM does provide a noticeable difference.
- Storage -
Laptops have never been great in terms of storage, however they have certainly come on in leaps and bounds over the past year or so. Although the 100GB supplied here is far less than will be found on the standard desktop computer, it is still a fair amount of space so long as you don't have high hopes of storing an abundance of music and films. As long as you are sensible with your hard drive utilisation, the 100GB supplied here should be plenty. Bare in mind however that when a hard drive is stated as '100GB' it is not necessarily so as the amount is rounded up here, in this instance from 90GB. The high 5400rpm spin rate of the hard drive here also gives the laptop a strong performance.
- Card Reader -
Present here in this laptop is a built in card reader supporting Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, and Memory Stick Duo. As a keen photographer the presence of the card reader is greatly appreciated by myself. It's great to be able to admire your photography on the laptop while out and about and instead of having to go to the trouble of carrying around the USB cable at all times in order to connect your camera to the laptop, you can easily remove the card from your camera, insert it into the card reader and view your photography on screen in its full glory. This method means that you can easily have a picture you've just taken e-mailed to a friend hundreds of miles away within minutes of having taken it.
- DVD Drive -
Included in the mix here is a CD/DVD RW, meaning you can write and record whatever you please onto blank CDs and DVDs. This is a great feature to utilise if you happen to be in a band for instance as you can quickly burn some Demo's whilst out and about, and could definitely come in handy whilst down the pub where your mate wants a copy of your latest tracks. This process is fast and fairly silent so will not disturb others around you should you wish to take advantage of it on your travels, and similarly wont disturb your TV viewing if you happen to be in the comfort of your living room.
- USB Ports -
The number of USB ports here is for me quite an issue. There are only 2 USB ports, so you soon find that you've run out. I have a USB Modem so when this is connected alongside my printer, there is no room for anything else to connect which can at times be frustrating. Other laptops I have noticed have 3 USB ports, whereas the Sony annoyingly has 2. I feel that the laptop would definitely benefit from having an extra USB port or two, however this is no reason to be put off and is merely a minor issue in the grand scheme of things.
- Pre-Installed Software -
Relatively little comes pre-installed here, so if you're looking for applications then chances are you'll have to buy them separately. Installed here is Norton internet Security which is always a nice touch, and MS Works 8.5 giving you basic word processing and spreadsheet capabilities. Also available here is a 30 day free trial of Microsoft Office 2007 giving you a month's access to Word 2007, OneNote 2007, Excel 2007 and Powerpoint 2007. It's nice to have the 30 day free trial of Microsoft Office, however after this timescale elapses I'd recommend downloading and installing Open Office as it is available free of charge and is an excellent package.
- Gaming -
As regards gaming, it is pretty much out of the question on this laptop. With an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, there is no way that you will be able to play up to date games on this system. In fact, unless you're wishing to play games such as Football Manager which do not require strong graphics cards, you can pretty much rule out any form of gaming activity on this laptop. Gaming laptops tend to be extremely expensive, and given the speed in which updates are made to computer systems these days, if gaming is your bag then I'd advise you to stick to playing them on a desktop computer rather than on a laptop. With desktop computers, graphics cards can easily be updated as new ones can be bought and installed, whereas with laptops you are stuck with the graphics card that comes pre-installed and there is no way of changing it once a laptop has been built and bought. The graphics specification you buy a laptop at is the way it shall stay for the duration of your ownership of it.
- Battery Life -
Battery life for the laptop is strong, and the battery can last roughly 3 and a half hours at constant use with the processor running at full power. It is nice to have this amount of battery life, as with most laptops the battery life tends to be rather poor, however having the knowledge that your laptop will easily be able to last a good 3 and a half hours without the need to be charged into a power supply is always good to know when out and about. You can easily happily watch a film, browse the internet etc. while out with a laptop battery of this strength.
- Final Thoughts -
Generally speaking, this is a great laptop, and thus far whatever I've thrown at it, it has handled it with relative ease. Obviously if you're a gamer then this is not the laptop for you as it will fail to meet your needs and requirements, however for most other uses it is more than adequate. The Vaio seems to perform well at all times, and due to its Dual Core processor it can handle multi tasking without any trouble whatsoever. While out and about the laptop will carry on going for long stretches of time, and with the utilisation of the recently released Windows Vista, the VGN-N230 is an extremely current machine that you will not wish to be replacing in a hurry.
Having owned the laptop a good few months or so now, I would most certainly recommend it to anyone. It runs like a dream and has never once let me down. I wake up in the mornings dreamily eyed, and as soon as my eyes make contact with the luscious white of the Vaio, a smile erupts across the whole of my face. I would wholeheartedly recommend this laptop to anyone as it is a great machine and has the looks to match. At a retail price of roughly £500 or so at current (or less depending on whether or not you mind having it second hand), the VGN-N230 is a steal and if you're after a laptop at present then I suggest you should definitely consider this one.