Sony VAIO VGN-FE570GC
At a Glance
Sony VAIO FE570G Notebook
This stylish Media Center Edition notebook has tons of storage but it's sluggish.
The lightweight Sony FE570G is beautifully crafted and comes with a huge hard drive. Unfortunately, it's a tad slow compared to similarly configured notebooks.
The light-gray Sony FE570G is well designed and portable. It comes with an off-white keyboard, borderless touchpad and black lower casing. Five small round buttons at the top of the keyboard control volume and launch your favorite applications. The big, extra-flat key tops make typing a breeze. Even the PC Card slot filler curves to match the shape of the case. The FE590G weighs 6.1 pounds--light for a notebook with a 15.4-inch screen--and it lasted 3.8 hours on one battery charge in our tests, so you can work unplugged all afternoon down at the coffee shop.
The $1850 (as of May 18, 2006) VGN-FE570GC is configured for consumer entertainment use. The 160GB hard drive lets you store hundreds of digital photos before using the double-layer DVD burner to burn them to a DVD. It also comes decked out with the Windows Media Center Edition operating system and a built-in 1.3-megapixel Webcam to support video chatting with family and friends. Unlike many Media Center Edition notebooks, however, this one doesn't include a TV tuner or remote control. This VAIO also lacks the ability to function as a stand-alone CD and DVD player. And I wouldn't recommend it to gamers due to its integrated graphics. (The customizable version of this notebook, the VGN-FE590, available on Sony's Web site, lets you add a dedicated graphics card for an extra $75.)
Other features include Bluetooth and 802.11a and g Wi-Fi, controlled with a front on/off switch. On the right side of the case are one FireWire and three USB ports, a Memory Stick reader, and an ExpressCard/34 slot. This slot accepts the smaller of the new data cards but not the larger (54mm) variety. Sony also bundles Microsoft Works 8.5 and a comprehensive electronic user manual.
It's easy to access the VGN-FE570GC's memory and the hard drive in their separate bottom compartments and you can expand storage to 240GB by connecting the $280 FE Series Multi Function Docking station equipped with an 80GB hard drive.
Regrettably, the VGN-FE570G is the pokiest 1.66-GHz Core Duo T2300-equipped notebook with 1GB of RAM that we've tested so far, though not by much. The big, slow 4200-rpm hard drive is probably partly to blame for the laptop's low WorldBench 5 score of 82. Most of the sluggishness occurred during multitasking processes, where we saw about a 20 percent gap between the VGN-FE570GC and other notebooks. The VGN-FE570G needed more than 10 minutes to complete the WorldBench 5 multitasking test, in which we convert an AVI file to WMV format while the notebooks opens 115 HTML files offline, twice each. Among the dual-core notebooks we've tested so far, the average time needed to complete this test is 8 minutes.
But if you crave a light, chic-looking notebook with a big screen and tons of storage, the VGN-FE570G should go to the top of your short list. It's a real looker, with class.