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Sony Vaio VGN-Z31VN/X review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £2000
inc VAT


13.1 in 1,600×900 display, 1.5kg, 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P9600, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows Vista Business

Sony’s Vaio VGN-Z31VN/X is easily the most expensive laptop here, but it has some features that set it apart.

For a start, it has two graphics chips – an integrated Intel GMA 4500M HD chip and an Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS chip. A button above the keyboard switches between the two. Neither is suited to 3D gaming as their single-digit scores in our Call of Duty 4 test show, but the onboard Nvidia chip can handle HD movies.

The benefit of switching between them is extended battery life. With the Nvidia chip enabled, the Vaio lasted just under five and a half hours; with the Intel chip enabled, it lasted an incredible eight hours and 15 minutes.

Unlike the other ultra-portables here, the Vaio excelled in all our Windows benchmarks thanks to its fast 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo P9600 processor and 4GB of RAM, although only around 3.5GB can be used because of the 32-bit version of Windows Vista.

The 13.1in screen has a very high 1,600×900 resolution, but small text is still easily legible. The 16:9 aspect ratio is ideal for watching widescreen movies. It’s not quite as bright as the Lenovo X360’s screen but is by no means dark. Viewing angles aren’t as wide as we’d like.

Like the Samsung X360’s keys, the Vaio’s keys are spaced out. They’re comfortable to type on, but they don’t give quite enough feedback and are less responsive than the keys on either the Portege or the ThinkPad. The accurate touchpad is large, but the buttons were too small for our fingers.

The 320GB hard disk is large for an ultra-portable. There’s a built-in 3G modem, so you can use the ExpressCard/34 slot and the two USB ports for adding other peripherals. Adobe Acrobat is bundled so you can create PDF documents, although there’s no copy of Photoshop Elements as there is with Sony’s other Vaios in this Labs.

The Vaio VGN-Z31VN/X is expensive, but it’s the best ultra-portable laptop available.

Basic Specifications

Rating *****
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo P9600
Processor clock speed 2.66GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 4GB
Size 35x315x210mm
Weight 1.5kg
Sound Realtek High Definition Audio
Pointing device touchpad
Power consumption standby 2W
Power consumption idle 24W
Power consumption active 50W


Viewable size 13.1 in
Native resolution 1,600×900
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS
Graphics/video ports VGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory 256MB


Total storage capacity 320GB
Optical drive model Matshita UJ862AS
Optical drive type DVD+/-RW +/-DL DVD-RAM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 2
Total Firewire ports 1
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support 802.11a/n, HSDPA
PC Card slots 1x ExpressCard/34
Modem Yes
Supported memory cards SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Other ports none


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows Vista Business
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included Adobe Acrobat Standard 9, Intervideo WinDVD 8
Optional extras Intel GMA 4500 M HD integrated graphics chip

Buying Information

Warranty two years RTB
Price £2,000