capsule review


At a Glance
  • Sony VAIO VGN-T150PL Notebook (1.1GHz Pentium M Centrino, 512MB, 40GB, DVD?RW, Windows XP, 10.6

Photograph: Rick Rizner

If you're heading out for the day, just drop the Sony VAIO VGN-T150P/L in your bag and go. You won't need to bring along a power adapter, thanks to this 3-pound ultraportable's record-setting battery life.

In our tests, the VGN-T150P/L ran for a little over 7 hours on one charge of its small but strong rear-mounted battery. That's enough juice to power back-to-back DVD movies on the clear 10.6-inch wide-aspect screen (which uses Sony's Xbrite technology). Despite the presence of a 'DVD' button, the VGN-T150P/L cannot act as a stand-alone CD or DVD player; the button launches the DVD player only while Windows is running. The VGN-T150P/L does come with handy volume control buttons on the front of the case and with CD track buttons at the top of the keyboard.

Most likely, you won't be blasting music on the VGN-T150P/L's built-in stereo speakers (unusual components on an ultraportable). Speaker sound is weak, so you'll still need the headphone port located on the front of the case.

Features are ample but not extravagant. Though the VGN-T150P/L lacks a video-out port for displaying the screen on a TV, it has a built-in DVDA?RW drive, a FireWire port, two USB ports, and a Sony Memory Stick slot. Removable hard plastic covers protect the modem and network jacks--a nice touch until you lose the covers. The VGN-T150P/L comes with Microsoft Works. For multimedia fans, this notebook comes with DVgate Plus video capture and editing software, SonicStage Mastering Studio music software, and PictureGear Studio photo software.

Given the notebook's size, the touchpad-equipped keyboard is inevitably cramped, and some functions such as Page Up and Page Down require combination keystrokes. Still, the layout is good and the white-on-black lettering is easy to read. We could touch-type on it easily.

Like most ultraportables, the VGN-T150P/L does not brim with upgrade options. You can't access the 40GB hard drive, so you'll have to send the VGN-T150P/L to a service center if the drive ever fails or if you want to swap it out for a higher-capacity drive some day. To reach the two memory slots, you need to remove three bottom screws and detach the keyboard.

The VGN-T150P/L runs mainstream applications well, but we wouldn't recommend it for big processing tasks. Our test unit was almost 40 percent slower than the fastest full-size laptop we've reviewed (which was equipped with a 2-Ghz Pentium M processor). The VGN-T150P/L performed on a par with comparable ultraportables, however, matching the WorldBench 5 score of 56 earned by the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D, which is likewise equipped with a 1.1-GHz Pentium M processor and 512MB of RAM.

The price is a bit steep, but for all-day, on-the-go multimedia computing, Sony's VAIO VGN-T150P/L is the new champ.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Sony VAIO VGN-T150PL Notebook (1.1GHz Pentium M Centrino, 512MB, 40GB, DVD?RW, Windows XP, 10.6

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