Sony VAIO VGN-SZ150P/C - Core Duo
Our Summary & Conclusion
The VGN-SZ150P/C is targeted squarely at highly mobile multimedia users. It isn't small enough to be an ultra-portable notebook but it isn't quite big enough to be a full-sized notebook either. This notebook is meant for someone that spends some time at the desk but still spends a decent amount of time on the run. The VGN-SZ150P/C is a reasonable compromise between performance and size.
Sony notebooks tends to be very multimedia centric. It is a multimedia company, after all, and the company has a wealth of home theater experience that trickles down into just about everything else they do. For the multimedia buff, Sony is definitely one of the companies to consider. While not completely unique to this notebook, the use of a hybrid graphics system allows for some reasonable gaming with its NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 supplement. For students, this may be something to consider if you plan on taking your notebook to class a lot. For professionals, the VGN-SZ150P/C is a notebook suited well for a half-half mixture between office and the road.
Priced at $2,449, our system (with 2GB of RAM, minus MS Office) was relatively expensive compared to competitive offerings from a more price conscious company like Dell or HP. Outside of software and memory, this notebook doesn't come with many configuration options; other than an optional extended warranty. It does have a few features that stand out, however, like biometric security, G-Sensor Shock Protection (similar to IBM's Active Protection System), and a hybrid graphics system.
The VGN-SZ150P/C isn't priced absurdly high, but it clearly isn't what we could call a budget or value notebook. It cost more than some competing models we have seen; just about all which don't compare to Sony's multimedia experience. With an excellent display and a matching audio experience, you can at least understand the SZ150P/C's price premium even if it isn't on your personal wish list. Sheer quality aside, Sony is not just a PC manufacturer; it is a brand name. And this brand name comes at a premium if you want all the goodies.
As for battery life, you will get a decent ~ 3 hours, give or take about 20 minutes, depending on what you are doing [and miscellaneous power settings]. Sony offers an extended battery pack that we didn't test, but it looks like it might have double the battery life at 12 cells. The only complaint we had was the charging time that we couldn't exactly pinpoint. At roughly 8:30AM we plugged in the notebook after a full drain [0%] and checked back every 15 minutes. Before and after lunchtime, the battery remained at 96%. It seemingly took forever to get the last 4%. After about 4 hours of charging we stopped checking and left it at that. We haven't experienced this with other notebooks, but this could just be an effect of Sony's power management.
Other than our odd battery experience, this was a first class multimedia notebook, price tag not withstanding. It is clearly suited best for the multimedia end of the computing spectrum, especially if you want your money's worth. This notebook will still be comfortable to use in business applications: e-mailing, word processing, work related projects, etc. Its fingerprint security feature helps in corporate applications, but it really starts to shine in the audio/video department.
Remember rule number #1 when it comes to shopping: "you get what you pay for." This notebook is more expensive than one of the competing models you might see at Dell, HP, and even IBM (now that they have gone widescreen). However, Sony remains one of the few to deliver a good multimedia experience. For the audio and Home Theater buff, notebooks of this nature are rare breeds. At the end of the day, we are giving the this notebook a high 9 on the Heat Meter.