At a Glance
Sony VAIO TXN15P/B Notebook
The broadband-ready VGN-TXN15P/B is travel-ready and a battery champ, but it performed poorly and has a cramped keyboard.
The featherlight Sony VGN-TXN15P/B supports broadband and lasts a long time on one battery charge. Roving professionals who need to write short notes and answer e-mail in the field might enjoy this 2.9-pound unit with a built-in DVD drive and a gorgeous little LED-backlit screen. But mainstream users will find its snail-like performance and cramped keyboard a compromise.
The VGN-TXN15P/B is impressively feature-rich for a laptop that measures 10.7 by 7.7 by 1.2 inches (width by depth by height). It includes the standard connections--such as network and modem jacks, a monitor port, two USB ports, and a PC Card slot--plus welcome extras, such as a fingerprint reader and a FireWire port. Our test unit's instant-on AV button saved time and battery life by bypassing the Windows Vista Business operating system, allowing us to view thumbnails of photos on a Memory Stick or SD Card or to play a CD or DVD. For the latter activity, however, you'll need headphones, as the stereo speakers are shrill.
Icons are tiny on the 11.1-inch WXGA screen, but text and graphics are bright and easy to read and see, thanks to an antireflective coating. A combination keystroke lowers and raises screen brightness; unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to disable the annoying high-pitched beep that sounded each time I used it.
The VGN-TXN15P/B offers excellent battery life but slow speed. Our test unit's 7800-mAh battery lasted a little over 6.5 hours on one charge in our battery performance tests. Its 1.2-GHz Core Solo U1400 processor combined with 1GB of DDR2-400 SDRAM produced a relatively low WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 32. (That score, however, matched the mark of a Fujitsu LifeBook P7230 equipped with the same processor.) The VGN-TXN15P/B seemed zippy enough to handle e-mail, word processing, and surfing the Internet, but not much more.
A couple of design problems also prevent a wholehearted recommendation. The keyboard is very small, with Chiclets-size keys that are flat and slippery. My petite hands partially covered the touchpad, repositioning the cursor repeatedly as a result. The VGN-TXN15P/B might have the world's tiniest optical drive eject button, too: It's so small, I had to use my fingernail or the end of a pencil to press it.
While you might be able to overcome these annoyances with practice, the VGN-TXN15P/B should not be your first choice if you need to do heavy-duty word processing. For anyone looking for a no-wires, all-day-battery laptop, though, the freedom this $2300 unit (as of 6/6/07) offers is attractive.