capsule review

Sony VAIO VGN-NR160E/T All-Purpose Laptop

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Sony VAIO NR160E/T Notebook

You won't win any speed contests with this budget laptop, but it's nicely crafted and offers pretty good battery life for less than $900.

Outfitted with a 1.5-GHz Core 2 Duo T5250 processor and a spartan 1GB of RAM, the Sony VGN-NR160E/T managed a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of just 52--a mark that's 28 percent behind the average score of 72 earned by 14 currently tested all-purpose laptops. A Gateway P-6825 with the same processor and twice the amount of RAM earned a score of 64, or 23 percent better. Heavy-duty 3D applications such as the latest first-person shooter games aren't an option with this laptop, but it should handle light entertainment and basic application chores just fine.

The battery ran down 18 minutes sooner than on the average all-purpose laptop we've tested, but 3.3 hours is not bad for such an inexpensive laptop.

The design is interesting. Sony sells this notebook in several different colors; the E/T model we received is "wenge," a very dark, almost black shade of brown. The lid and the surface surrounding the keyboard are finished in a fine waffle texture.

The VGN-NR160E/T weighs an easy-to-tote 6.2 pounds, including an acceptable 15.4-inch screen. The screen is a tad reflective and not as bright as others we've tested, but the 1280-by-800-pixel resolution makes text easy to read. The other components--such as the 160GB hard drive and the decent 802.11g Wi-Fi capability (instead of the newer and faster 802.11n)--are also good for the $830 price (as of 11/19/07). The keys have especially big tops that are easy to type on. The separate, front-mounted SD Card and Memory Stick slots are also a nice touch. 

On the downside, this Windows Vista Home Premium laptop's speakers aren't loud enough or good enough for listening to music without headphones. Fortunately, you can reprogram the notebook's mute button to launch your favorite application instead. Strangely, the AV Mode button conjures only a small on-screen panel that gives two launch choices: DVD or Internet Explorer.

The VGN-NR160E/T comes loaded with Microsoft Works SE 9.0. The software suite is sprinkled with ads--Microsoft's latest idea for making a little money--but it's better than having no productivity applications at all.

All in all, this is a nice unit for undemanding consumers who need to buy a portable companion to supplement a desktop PC without spending a lot of money.

--Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Tepid performance and a somewhat dull screen are the flies in the ointment for this inexpensive unit.


    • Great price
    • Good battery life and overall design


    • Slow processor
    • Screen could be a little brighter
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