Sony VAIO VGN-SZ110B 13" Laptop (Intel Core Duo Processor T2400, 1024 MB RAM, 100 GB Hard Drive, DVD+R Dbl Layer/DVD+/-RW Drive)
 
List Price: $2699.00

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Product Description

Includes: lithium-ion battery, AC adapter, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 2, Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition, Quicken 2005 New User Edition, WinDVD, Works 8.5 (60-day trial), & more. Sony VGN-SZ110/B VAIO(R) SZ Series Notebook PC - Battery power is one of the most important aspects of a notebook computer. Which is why this notebook features Sony's unique Hybrid Graphic System. The Hybrid Graphic System features two separate graphics chips that you can switch between -- an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400, and an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950. The NVIDIA gives you extra graphical horsepower for games and multimedia applications, while the Intel chip preserves your battery power by providing enough support for basic tasks. Built-in 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi Adapter Integrated Bluetooth Technology 13.3 WXGA Display with XBRITE(TM) Technology Native Resolution - 1280x800 Hybrid Graphics System - NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 with 256MB of memory, and an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 with 224MB of shared memory (shared memory takes it's memory from the main system's RAM) Built-in Camera & Microphone - easily video conference without any extra equipment needed! Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Biometric Finger Print Sensor - secure your laptop without the need of a password! Dual Layer DVD Writer - (write speeds) up to 2.4x Dual Layer DVD+R, 4x DVD-R, 4x DVD+R, 2x DVD-RW, 2.4x DVD+RW, 24x CD-R, & 10x CD-RW Dual Layer DVD Writer - (read speeds) up to 8x DVD-ROM & 24x CD-ROM Integrated v.90 56k Fax Modem Memory Stick Media Slot - supports Memory Stick(R) DUO media with MagicGate PC Card Slots - 1 ExpressCard/34 & 1 PCMCIA PC Card with CardBus Sony Sound Reality Audio Enhancer Ports - 10/100 Ethernet, 1 VGA Out, 1 4-pin Firewire, 2 USB 2.0, 1 Microphone, & 1 Headphone

The sleekly designed, lightweight Sony VAIO VGN-SZ110B notebook PC delivers intelligent mobile design while placing a priority on usability and performance. Coolly contemporary, it has a magnesium coating and aluminum finish on the palm rest for a great blend of the fashionable and the functional. It measures a mere 1.5 inches thin and features a superb 13.3-inch widescreen display with XBRITE LCD technology, long battery life, and a generous, comfortable keyboard. The integrated tri-mode 802.11 a/b/g wireless LAN enables wireless connectivity on the fly, while the revolutionary Hybrid Graphics System lets toggle between internal and external graphics chips, enabling you to choose lighter battery consumption or better performance depending on the situation.

With an integrated DVD+R Double Layer/DVD+/-RW drive, you can store up to 8.5 GB of data on one Double Layer DVD disc, making it easy to share and save your data and media files. This notebook also features a powerful 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor (with Centrino Mobile technology), 100 GB hard drive, 1 GB of installed RAM (with a 2 GB maximum), Bluetooth wireless capability, long battery life (up to 5.5 hours with included battery), advanced security/safety features that include a biometric fingerprint sensor, Windows XP Home operating system, and a host of Sony multimedia software.

The Basics

  • Hard Drive: A welcome size for road warriors, the 100 GB hard drive is definitely above average in size for notebook PCs--great for storing a digital medial library or graphics-intensive presentations--and faster than average at 5400 RPM. This Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive also quickens the pace with a higher speed transfer of data--akin to FireWire and USB 2.0.
  • Processor: This VAIO is powered by a 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor T2400, which sits in the middle of the speed spectrum for this processor (as of February 2006). It has a fast 667 MHz front-side bus (FSB) and a large 2 MB L2 cache. (An L2, or secondary, cache temporarily stores data; and a larger L2 cache can help speed up your system's performance.)

    With its two execution cores, the Intel Core Duo is optimized for multi-threaded applications and multitasking. You can simultaneously run multiple demanding applications--such as graphics-intensive games or serious number-crunching programs--while downloading music or running virus-scanning security programs in the background. Thanks to Intel Dynamic Power Coordination and Enhanced Intel Deeper Sleep with Dynamic Cache Sizing features, the Core Duo is able to transfer power only to those areas of the processor that need it. Featuring Intel Digital Media Boost, the Core Duo also provides enhanced performance on floating point-intensive applications such as CAD tools, 3D and 2D modeling, video editing, digital music, digital photography and gaming.

  • Memory: The 1 GB of built-in memory (PC4200, DDR2 SDRAM) is a very good start for power users, and it offers a very fast 533 MHz speed. It has two memory slots, enabling you to add more power to handle graphics-intensive presentations and multiple open business productivity applications --up to 2 GB (2 x 1 GB).
  • CD/DVD Drive: Offering the latest in DVD writing technology, the multiformat DVD/CD drive is compatible with both DVD+ and DVD- disc formats as well as dual-layer DVD+R discs, which can store up to 8.5 GB of data. For DVD-R/RW discs, it has a 4x write/2x rewrite speed, while for DVD+R/RW discs it has a 4x write/2.4x rewrite speed. For double-layer DVD+R, it has a 2.4x write speed. For CDs, it has a 24x write/10x rewrite speed. It also offers an 8x DVD-ROM read speed.
  • Keyboard & Mouse: This notebook has a standard 86-key keyboard (with 3mm stroke and 19.05mm pitch) and electrostatic touchpad.
Screen, Graphics and Sound
The VGN-SZ110B has a 13.3-inch LCD screen with anti-reflective coating has a widescreen 1280 x 800- pixel resolution. This XBRITE LCD provides higher brightness levels than standard displays, resulting in deeper blacks, brighter whites, true-to-life color, and razor-sharp detail. This notebook uses Sony's exclusive Hybrid Graphics System, which lets you set your graphics performance with a simple flick of a switch, enabling you to toggle between an internal graphics chip for optimal power consumption with excellent performance or an external graphics chip for even more robust performance. You can choose either the integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (with up to 128 MB of dynamically shared video RAM) and the installed Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 graphics card (with 128 MB of dedicated video RAM).

Nvidia's TurboCache feature increases the performance of this thin and light notebook PC without increasing its size or draining its battery. It's coupled with the PowerMizer 6.0 advanced power management technology, which significantly extends your notebook PC?s battery life while minimizing the amount of heat it produces.

Security & Safety Features
Sony's line of VAIO SZ notebooks take security seriously, employing a biometric fingerprint sensor and proprietary hard disk drive protection software to ensure your data is protected from unauthorized use as well as accidental damage. Fingerprint biometrics is a convenient and secure way to protect your computer and the information on it with a simple swipe of your finger. It also stores passwords to secure web sites you visit, so authentication and access are quick and easy--you only need your fingerprint.

The G-Sensor Shock Protection feature makes your data even less vulnerable to loss or damage. When the built-in 3D acceleration sensor detects a risky movement like being dropped, the HDD-head will lock up to secure its position and protect the disc from scratching. An intelligent algorithm, unique to VAIO PCs, judges whether or not a movement is risky, activating disk drive protection only when your hardware is at risk.

Built-in Camera
This VAIO notebook features an integrated camera with a microphone. Enjoy this feature with free AOL AIM service to easily chat and video mail with family and friends. And the handy privacy filter masks the environment around you, so you can video chat without giving away your location or how disorganized you keep your desk.

Connectivity and Expansion Slots
The Intel PRO wireless LAN 3945ABG provides a tri-mode network connection (supporting 802.11a/b/g), with throughput up to 54 Mbps at 5 GHz (802.11a) and 2.4 GHz (802.11g). The Intel Wireless Coexistence System helps reduce interference with certain Bluetooth devices. Speaking of which, this notebook also offers Bluetooth wireless connectivity, which enables you to synchronize and transfer files between the PC and peripherals such as cell phones and PDAs as well as use Bluetooth-enabled headsets for online audio chats.

This notebook includes a next-generation ExpressCard/34 card slot, which lets you take advantage of thinner, faster, and lighter expansion cards for even more advanced wireless, networking, storage, and security features. comes with a basic selection of connectivity options, including:

  • 2 USB 2.0 ports for connecting a wide range of peripherals--from digital cameras to MP3 players
  • 1 FireWire (also known as IEEE 1394 or i.Link) port for connecting digital video camcorders and other peripherals
  • 1 VGA monitor port
  • 1 Memory Stick slot (with support for Memory Stick DUO media with MagicGate functionality)
  • 1 PCMCIA (Type II/Type I) card slot with CardBus support
  • 1 port replicator connector
  • 1 headphone jack
  • 1 microphone jack
It also has an integrated 56K modem (V.90) and an RJ-45 LAN network port (for a 10/100 Gigabit Ethernet connection to networks and DSL/cable modems).

Preloaded System and Software
This system comes with the Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2 operating system with Advanced Security Technologies, which helps to reduce unwanted downloads and pop-ups while surfing the Web. It also comes loaded with a bevy of Sony multimedia software: Click to DVD (DVD creation), SonicStage (digital music), SonicStage Mastering Studio (for remastering audio), Vaio Media (network file sharing), DVgate Plus (digital video), and Image Converter (for PSP transfer). Other preloaded software includes Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition, Quicken 2005 New User Edition, Microsoft Works 8.5 (with word processing, spreadsheet, and calendar), Norton Internet Security (with 60-day subscription), TrendMicro Anti-Spyware (with 30-day trial), Roxio DigitalMedia SE, and SpySubtract.

Dimensions and Weight
This notebook measures 12.5 by 1.5 by 9.3 inches (WxHxD) and weighs approximately 4.07 pounds with the standard battery (included).

Power
It's powered by the VGP-BPS2C rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which provides 2.5 to 5.5 hours of battery life (depending on usage).

What's in the Box
This package contains the VGN-SZ110B notebook PC, AC adapter, rechargeable battery, and memory card adapter. It is backed by a 1-year limited hardware warranty and 1 year of toll-free technical assistance.

Features:
  • Sleekly designed, lightweight notebook with 13.3-inch screen; powerful 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor T2400 (667 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2 cache)
  • 100 GB hard drive, 1 GB RAM (2 GB max), multi-format/dual-layer DVD+/-RW drive
  • Two USB 2.0, one FireWire, one PCMICIA, Memory Stick slot, one VGA
  • Bluetooth wireless capability, tri-mode 802.11a/b/g wireless LAN, 10/100 Ethernet, 56K modem
  • Windows XP Home Edition, biometric fingerprint scanning, integrated camera
Customer Reviews:
  • Great Powerful Lightweight Laptop - Buy One!
    Most small laptops give up power and features to obtain light weight but this SONY is an exception. With Duo Core Intel FAST processors, 256MB Dedicated Video, large 100+GB Hard Drive (5400RPM - fast for laptops), beautiful high resolution easy to view screen and a sleek package UNDER 4 Pounds!! - this is a system capable of video editing, presentations or anything you might want to do....and yes still smaller than a piece of paper :) HIGHLY Suggest the purchase, it has been extremely reliable with the small exception of the battery which SONY replaced under warranty....more info
  • Does not deserve such a high price
    This was my first lap top and had to throw it in garbage in one year after facing many problems. I bought it considering Sony brand , but now realized that Sony is worst when it comes to laptops.

    - Lap top base gets so hot that it can burn your skin and you can not work while keeping in your lap.
    - Battery back up is less than 90 minutes even when laptop is new
    - Key board is flat , not comfortable and very fragile (can break very easily)
    - Over all the laptop is not at all sturdy and different parts (such as side panel in my case) can come out very easily.

    I would advise not to spend $1500-$2000 for this as there are various other good laptops available in this price range.


    ...more info
  • Apples to apples....
    Many people have written some great reviews about the PROS/CONS of this notebook, and I have ot say that they are exactly right. I will spare you having to read the same information again, but I will say that sometimes the keys can be a bit picky, especially the space bar, which fails to register a stroke from time to time. However, comming from a law student who takes all his notes via typing on his laptop, this is a very managable issue.

    MOST of the complaints that people have made about this computer are inherent with ALL SONY VAIO models, not just the SZ series, or specifically the SZ110B. I own an older "K" series model (about 3 years) and here is what I found...

    - The screen flickers from time to time, but usually only when it is first opened.
    - The computer gets hot to a point of discomfort, where it will burn if you have it on your lap too long.
    - The power supply is a brick, and quite heavy

    Now, compare this to the complaints of the newer SZ series. They are basically the same, BUT...

    -The screen is about 1/2 as think as the original "XBRITE" screens
    -The power supply is about 1/2 the size of the previous generation VAIO notebooks
    -This computer is no where near as hot or noisy

    Overall, I purchased this computer to take to class everyday and my old computer was just too heavy at ~11 lbs. If you own a VAIO, you will love this computer. It is lighter and much more powerful than previous models. Also, I think that the security feature of the figerprint scanner is underplayed. Setting it up is a bit long, but once it works, it takes literally seconds to set up pages to work with it.

    People seem to complain that it is not like their IBM Thinkpad or Dell, which I agree with SINCE IT IS NOT EITHER!! Bottom line, some people like certain brands. These notebooks may have the same problems as other Sony laptops, but what brand doesn't? Being someone in higher education for the past 5 years, I have seen quite a few brands of laptops from Toshiba to IBM to Mac's and the infamous Compaq. Some don't work well with wireless routers, some are heavy, some crash...Bottom line, if you want a computer that you can use out of the box with plenty of power and porability, but also want a compter that you can use for personal reasons like photos, movies, etc, this is your notebook. And if you are looking for a computer to send with your student to college, this notebook is a great choice. It sgreat for music, movies, and school, as well as light enough to transport too and from class....more info
  • Beware of amazon slow delivery
    I purchased this laptop on Jun/29. It was listed as "ships in 24 hours" (it is still listed this way). As of Jul/6 it has not shipped. This is unnaceptable. Amazon should fix their extremely long time to process orders. ...more info
  • VAIO SZ vs MacBook - VAIO is awesome
    After having a bad experience with MacBook (Returned that back last week, windows keep crashing, heat problem, too heavy etc.). I finally decide for Sony VAIO SZ notebook. I got this brand new notebook (Sony VAIO VGN - SZ260P) from SonyStyle store in University Village Mall, Seattle. Its quite nice and good looking notebook. It feather light as compared to MacBook. I really love it. Display is crystal clear, comparable to MacBook. Keyboard is well designed and keys are well placed. On MacBook, if you are a Windows user then you may miss a lot of important keys - DEL key, which is a must to login - "Press CTRL-ALT-DEL to login" though there are workarounds like key remapping etc. Home, Pageup, PageDown and End keys are quite useful while doing some editing work. These keys are well placed on Sony VAIO SZ.

    Typing on MacBook was more pleasent, on VAIO SZ keys are a bit noisy and feel plasticiy. Though its ok. The main difference is the battery. MacBook has a really poor battery, just 2.5 to 3 Hrs. On VAIO its showing me more than 5 Hrs at 95% (in Stamina mode), that's really awesome.

    O'kay now the bad things (or the things i didnt liked about it) - No recovery disks in the box. I've to burn two DVDs myself. It has a lot of software pre-installed, which makes it slow on startup. Many trial version software like AOL, Office 2003 etc. There was a problem which I faced - I joined this machine to DOMAIN (in coporate network) after reboot, first time it logged in, second time it stuck up at "Applying Computer settings..." 20 minutes nothing happened, Rebooted in safe mode, it worked! Try to restore system using Restore System. But that even didn't helped. Decided to recovere C: Restored system to factory defaults (it formats c:). Again joined the system to DOMAIN and uninstalled AOL and rebooted. and system again stuck up at "Applying comuter settings..." no login screen appear. Finally I've to call up the Sony Customer Care. After 15 minutes of conversation he suggested me to do F8 on startup and choose "Last known Good Configuration" and thank God, system started normally after that.

    Sony has created a hidden recovery drive and there is no Windows XP CD to install OS and essential device drivers only. When you do restore system to factory defaults its restores all the funny software with it too. Any there are atleast 12 icons in the sytem tray that loads on startup and makes startup slow. I would have been good if, these extra software has been provided on a separate CD.

    Overall, its an awesome machine. Though it comes at a price. But one can easily feel proud to own this state of the art machine. Earlier I was planning to buy VAIO TX because I wanted an ultraportable machine. Now after owing this, I can say, VAIO SZ is the good blend of portability without sacrificing on power. This model sports an Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz processor with 1 Gig RAM which is quite decent for most applicaitons. Though I've not yet installed Visual Studio on it.

    The last geeky thing about it - it has G-sensor protection for HDD. When I move it a ballon message on system tray popsup - reporting G-protection system engaged. The operation is quite silent and cool. On the contrary MacBook tend to become quite hot even after 2-3 Hrs. of usage. VAIO SZ is running quite cool, its about 5 Hrs now. And I am able to use it on my lap quite comfortably.

    Regards,
    -Vks
    ...more info
  • Bad keyboard, useless support, bad drivers, QC problems...
    This machine is over-hyped. I got it to replace my Thinkpad X22, and I didn't like it at all. I had to send the first one back for replacement because of a flickering LCD. The new one is also flickering at mid brightness levels. Sony has some QC issues I believe. My friend's has a bad trackpad button and it is always overheating.

    PROs:
    + Great processor
    + Great LCD (if you are lucky)
    + Lightweight (1.9kgs)

    CONs:
    - Horrible keyboard (nightmare after Thinkpad - flat keys, sharp edges, fingers tackle on them), strange key placement, flexing badly. F and J keys flex vertically while others do horizontally, this causes problems.
    - Re-installing a new OS is a nightmare. Drivers caused many problems when I wanted to upgrade to XP PRO.
    - Bad design features (latchless LCD still requires two hands to open, or the cover on modem/LAN connectors is buggy).
    - Battery life cannot go beyond 3.5 hrs even at Ultra-battery saver Vaio Power Scheme (claimed 5hrs).
    - Ultra heavy/big power adapter brick ( Over a pound!)
    - Hotkeys are not real hotkeys, requires software running, so you can't mute the speakers or change LCD level before Windows starts roaring!
    - Doesn't have a built-in microphone? My goodness, just 5 cents! Sony is getting meaner and meaner on feature(!) limitations on basic models.

    My verdict: if you are particular about keyboard or an ex-Thinkpad user, stay away from this Sony.

    MKP....more info
  • amazing laptop
    this laptop is one of the best i,ve ever bought.it's sleek fast and has amazing scurity options....more info
  • HD fail when it arrivated
    This looks good, but not works well. Just received the laptop. And turn on the power, after finished the register for xp system, the hard drive fail. Now the system can't restart, and the big noise from hard disk.

    There is no recover CD. The adapter is huge and heavy. Can't belive that Sony make such huge adapter for small laptop. Very stupid.

    Hardware fail, hope amazon help me to return it.

    Who packed the package? The laptop is on the bottom, and the air bags are all on the top. There is no protection for the laptop at all. I think amazon need to learn how to pack.

    Call amazon customer serivces, they don't serve you. They keep asking you to call back later. Call them second time 3 hours later, they still said call back couple hours later. The call is from indian, can't hear clear and long time delay.

    I think it should give negative 5 stars....more info
  • Good Machine, a bit pricey though
    I have used this machine for a month now and am fairly satisfied with the overall performance. I use it for about 4 hours everyday while riding the train to and from work. I paid about $[...] after rebate.

    At the time I bought it (early March 2006), this was the only machine that met my criteria for a lightweight Centrino Core Duo laptop with sufficient power to run Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, Business Objects XI and also do occasional video editing. However, in April Dell introduced the Latitude D620 which is about 1/2 pound heavier than this machine and is better equipped at a lower price (DELL gives you Win XP Pro and you can configure it to have 2GB RAM. The only thing missing from the D620 is a dedicated graphics card). So you might want to look around before commiting to the SZ110B.

    Now on to the review of core features of SZ110B:

    1) Memory - it comes with 2x 512MB chips which is a shame as you have to throw away at least one of these if you want to add more RAM. As for memory speed is it 533MHz and not the top rated 667Mhz, though in real life it wouldn't make much of a difference. I would have liked to see one 1GB chip.

    2) Video Editing - comes pre-installed with DV Gate and Click to DVD software from Sony. I must say that this laptop/ video software combo is the easiest I have used so far to transfer movies from my Sony Hi-8 digital camcorder to DVD. The movies produced were of very high quality and the process completed without a hitch.

    3) Overall fit and finish - very good, except for battery fit which is a bit loose.

    4) Battery life - There have been a few complaints about the low battery life. However, remember that the battery life depends on what task you are performing - higher the CPU usage or if the DVD drive is constantly spinning, the battery will obviously run down faster. What I found was that using "Vaio Optimized" setting with the stamina mode gives adequate battery life (about 4 hours) without affecting performance too much. So don't set the power scheme at "Always on" or "Home/Office" if all you are doing is word processing or web surfing. Choose "Max Battery" or "Vaio Optimized" in such a case.

    5) Power Adaptor - yes it is big and I would have liked to see a smaller size. Note however, that this is a POWERFUL adaptor - about 90watts as opposed to 65watts that most notebooks ship with. I guess this translates to a faster charge time with the notebook on, though I have not tested it.

    6) Wireless network - performed without a hitch and the speed was adequate. I use the Linksys WRT54G router and there were no issues.

    7) Doing a clean Windows install - This is the first laptop (and I have owned quite a few) that I did not wipe out the pre-installed copy of Windows and put on my own copy. The reason being that this machine performs so flawlessly and is so preditable that I don't like touching the base OS install at all.

    I do need to run Windows XP Pro to do some software development tasks. For that I use Microsoft Virtual PC and it runs flawlessly on this machine, which is surprising given the fact that Virtual PC is not officially supported on XP Home. I had quite a few issues running Virtual PC on other systems with XP Home, but this laptop just runs it without any hassle.

    If you do need to do a clean install, check out the Sony support as it gives explicit instructions and the order of installing the various drivers.

    8) Built in camera and microphone - These feature are useless for me as I have no need for them. The microphone does seem to be pretty good however, when I tested it.

    9) Fingerprint reader - At first I thought this was a useless feature. Now however, I do use it to login to the laptop and it seems to work very well, with a success rate of over 98% recognition at the first swipe.

    10) Value for money - Given the fact that Sony offers only one year standard warranty (DELL gives 3 years on the D620), I feel that is still a bit pricey and a good price point for a machine like this would be around $1,650. Keep in mind however, that not many machines offer a hybrid graphics system and a built in camera like this laptop dies.

    11) Overall performance - While it is not a blazingly fast machine, this laptop offers a good balance between stability and performance. While I would like see a lower price, I do intend to keep this machine for a long time and hopefully it will give a few years of trouble free service....more info
  • Sony Vaio Extremely Poor Service
    Sony makes nice compact computers, which are great until they break. Even if there are known defects in the computer, Sony will not honor the warranty if there are any things that they determine are not due to normal wear and tear---even if they have nothing to do with the manufacturing defect.
    Buyer beware....more info
  • Good ultraportable laptop -- if you can live with a few annoyances
    (Updated April 02, 2006)

    The Sony Vaio SZ-110/B (model # VGNSZ110B) is Sony's entry-level SZ-series notebook. The SZ line represents Sony's latest attempt to combine mobility and power without sacrificing too much of either. This ultraportable notebook weighs in at a light 4 pounds, about average for its category, but it comes loaded with features not found on other ultraportables. Other notebooks in this category include the Lenovo Thinkpad X60s, the Asus W5F, and the Toshiba Portege M400 convertible tablet. I haven't been able to try any of them, unfortunately, so this review will only be about the Sony.

    General info about the Sony SZ line
    ------------------------------------
    Sony's SZ notebooks are divided into two major categories, "Regular" (Sony just calls them "SZ", but "Regular" is used here for clarity) and Premium:

    * Regular SZ notebooks have magnesium bodies, weigh 4.1 lbs, and offer a manufacturer-estimated 5.5 - 6 hours of battery life (inaccurate; see below).

    * Premium SZ notebooks have carbon-fiber bodies, weigh 3.7 lbs, and offer a manufacturer-estimated 6 - 7 hours of battery life (inaccurate; see below). They use a different type of LCD screen and backlight, resulting in an ultrathin screen (4.5mm thick) that supposedly looks better than the Regular type -- but the Regular screen already seems thin enough and bright enough, so the Premium one may be more of a luxury than a necessity. The Premium notebooks also have a slightly different type of keyboard, but the difference is subjective and preference will probably depend on the individual user. Lastly, some Premium notebooks come with an integrated EDGE antenna for wireless Internet access using Cingular's cellular network.

    The two types are otherwise the same. For more details, visit http://www.sony.com/sz/

    The SZ-110B in particular
    ------------------------------------
    The 110B is Sony's lowest-priced SZ notebook (excluding the custom-configurable SZ-140).

    * As a Regular SZ notebook, it has a magnesium body instead of the carbon-fiber body of the Premium notebooks.

    * It comes with Windows XP Home instead of Windows XP Professional.

    * It has an Intel Core Duo T2400 1.83Ghz CPU instead of the 2.0Ghz CPU that some others have.

    * It has a 100GB hard drive instead of the 120GB drive that some others have.

    * It does not have the EDGE antenna (for WWAN Internet access) that some others have.

    Pros
    ------------------------------------
    * Very light (4 pounds).

    * Runs cool under normal office and Internet usage.

    * Seems well-built. The screen is sturdy and the magnesium casing looks great and feels okay.

    * Built-in dual-layer DVD writer is a rare find in an ultraportable.

    * The SZ line's unique Hybrid Graphic System lets you toggle between two internal graphics cards: The Intel GMA 950 (for better battery life) and the Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 (for low-to-medium end 3D gaming).

    Ultraportable Core Duo notebooks are already rare. The Sony SZ line is unique in that it is the only ultraportable (< 4 lbs) Core Duo series to offer a gaming-capable 3D graphics card. The 7400 is an OK gaming card: It won't run the latest and greatest very well, but it should be fine for less demanding games and older titles.

    * Has both a PC Card slot (PCMCIA Type II) and an ExpressCard/34 slot, meaning the notebook can use both current- and next-generation products.

    * There is an additional standalone Memory Stick Duo Pro MagicGate slot. It's useful if you have other Sony electronics and don't want to bother with Duo-to-regular-size adapters.

    * The 4-pin FireWire/IEEE 1394/iLink port (different names for the same thing) is a luxury not often found on ultraportable PC notebooks.

    * Bluetooth (Sony doesn't specify the version) comes standard.

    Cons
    ------------------------------------
    * Battery life, realistically speaking, is between 2 to 3.5 hours -- a far cry from the advertised 6. A large-capacity extended battery is available for $200 or more.

    * DVD drive is relatively noisy and makes the whole system vibrate when in use.

    * Awkward port layout. The DVD drive, two USB ports and ExpressCard/34 slot are all on the right hand side. The power plug, located on the back edge, juts out at a 90-degree angle to the right and adds to the clutter. This is hell for right-handed external mouse users.

    Additionally, the headphone and microphone jacks are in the back left corner... not exactly a convenient place.

    * Only two USB ports, both are which are close together. Bigger devices may not fit without an extension cable.

    * There is only one wireless switch and it controls both WiFi and Bluetooth simultaneously. They can be individually toggled in software, but separate hardware switches (or at least keyboard functions) would've been better.

    * No TV / S-Video output and no DVI output. There is a VGA port, however.

    * No Gigabit ethernet. A strange decision on Sony's part, but not a big deal unless you do a lot of networked file transfers.

    * No infrared port, though Bluetooth somewhat negates the need for one.

    * The hard drive is deep inside the notebook and cannot be swapped out/upgraded without taking apart the case and keyboard.

    * No manual included.

    * No software CDs included. No Windows XP CD and not even a recovery CD. Sony wants you to burn your own recovery set with either 8-9 CDs or 2 DVDs. I don't like that at all.

    * Machine comes extremely bloated in terms of software. It is loaded down with trial versions of Norton security software, Trend security software, Microsoft software; redundant control applets for Bluetooth, notebook settings, WiFi configuration; redundant media players and disc burning programs, etc.

    Some degree of bloat is typical, but Sony takes it to a new level. The included software is also unintegrated and decentralized. Combined with the lack of a printed manual, it can be hard to determine what the various programs are supposed to do.

    * A clean, fully-functional reinstall of Windows XP is either extremely difficult or outright impossible with this notebook. Sony did a very poor job of making drivers available. Many necessary drivers are missing from the website and there are also some unnecessary drivers for devices that aren't even on the notebook. Among the drivers that are both necessary and available, some actually refuse to install even though they were supposedly made for this system.

    The recovery DVD -- which is also supposed to have the drivers -- does not work without certain support packages from the website. However, the DVD does not tell you which packages are required. Even when you find the right packages, some of the drivers are the DVD won't install and others are buggy and break parts of Windows (the HD shock protection driver, for example, breaks Plug and Play).

    Basically, getting this notebook to work well with a fresh copy of XP is going to be difficult for the average user. If you want to start over with a clean system, I strongly encourage you to choose another notebook or wait until Sony cleans up the drivers section. I am very disappointed with this situation. Note, however, that this is only relevant if you plan on reformatting and reinstalling Windows -- something that relatively few users will do. The system works just fine out-of-the-box.

    * Sony has 24x7 phone tech support, but it isn't very good. Wait times for senior technicians during peak hours can exceed one hour. Wait times for regular first-tier support is acceptable -- just a few minutes -- but they can't always help.

    Also, Sony's extended and on-site warranty plans aren't available on Amazon. You MAY be able to purchase one direct from Sony, but I'm not sure. If not, any necessary warranty repairs would require mailing in the notebook and that could take a while.

    * Considering the high price (nearly $2000), I would've expected Sony to use slightly better components. The hard drive is only 5400 RPM. The RAM is clocked at 533 Mhz, not the 667 Mhz that the motherboard supports. The DVD drive is slow and possibly a bit picky about discs. The webcam is a non-swiveling, low-resolution camera that's worse than some of its present-day peers. The AC adapter power brick is slightly bigger and heavier than necessary, while the cable is shorter than usual (you may want to get an extension cord or a third-party AC adapter).

    Other things
    ------------------------------------
    * Sony includes a multi-card reader (xD/SD/MMC/MS Pro) that goes in the ExpressCard slot. This is a nice gesture, but the reader would've been even better as a separate, standalone slot so that the ExpressCard slot can stay free.

    * Fingerprint scanner is useful for security, but its placement is not optimal. It sits right between the two touchpad buttons and is too easily activated by accident. Sony chose the worst possible place to put it.

    * The keyboard feels -- for the lack of a better term -- "different" from most other notebook keyboards. It has big, "clicky" keys that just feel different. It's not necessarily better or worse than what's out there: Some people like it, some people love it, and some people hate it. If you're going to get an SZ, first try out the keyboards (both Regular and Premium) at a brick-and-mortar retail store before you buy. Also, the keyboard can be a bit noisy when compared to others.

    * The laptop's "XBRITE" screen is of the glossy variety. It's great for watching movies or gaming in a dark room, but it can be annoying in well-lit areas if you can't find a good angle under the light to minimize the reflections. Whether this would bother you is probably, again, a matter of personal preference and I would suggest that you compare glossy and matte screens at a retail store in order to see the difference.

    Conclusion
    ------------------------------------
    I'm generally impressed with the notebook. It's a nice-looking, well-built machine loaded with unique features and with a very light weight to boot. It manages to combine power and portability in a single package; it's not easy to find a machine that's both this fast and this light.

    If you're looking for a powerful ultraportable, I think this would be good choice as long as you won't be doing much tinkering. I could not find a comparable machine from any other major manufacturer at the time this review was written (late March 2006). Overall, I would recommend this system to anyone who can live with the cons listed above.

    But if you're the kind of person that likes to truly customize your computer, you might not be happy with this. The system carries a hefty price tag for its so-so components and upgrading the parts (especially the hard drive) will be expensive and time-consuming. My experience was marred by Sony's poor software package, its no-included-CD policy and its poor tech support quality. The notebook simply doesn't work right with a clean Windows XP installation and Sony was of no help in solving the issue. I'm disappointed that a company as big as Sony would be so bad at after-sales support. Based on this experience, I would not buy another computer from Sony if any other major manufacturer offers a comparable system. In this case, however, there weren't any similarly equipped systems.

    So if you have trouble deciding, just ask yourself one question: Would you be happy with the notebook as Sony configured it? If so, this'd probably be a great little machine for you. If not, if you like having more control over your system... I would stay away for the time being and wait and see how Sony addresses the issues....more info
  • The Perfect Computer
    I had been looking for a new laptop for probably a year; holding out for something that would be portable, powerful and stylish. My wait was over when the SZ came out. This notebook is amazingly fast - it is snappier than the dual core 2GB of RAM desktop I have at work! The case is beautiful with brushed aluminum palmrests and very good build quality. The battery life is less than the "7 hours" in the description but I easily get 3-4 hours a charge. The bottom line is you will not find a laptop this small with dedicated graphics and this much power at any price! Speaking of price, the only con I found (and this is amazon's fault, not sony's) is that a few days after I received it the price came down by a hundred dollars! This works in your favor as it is an even better deal....more info
  • Sony's products become worse and worse
    After I bought the laptop only for 3 weeks, so many issues happened:
    1) DVD writer is not easily be used. No idea about how to use it.
    2) Sony bluetooth mouse cannot be installed on the VGN-SZ110B
    3) It needs to be recovered twice already !!
    4) The amazon prices for the sell decreases continuesly, and make me feeling be cheated....more info