October 1st, 2007 Desktop, Mobile Computing, Tech

PC laptops aren’t the usual tool of choice for the designer, but two things should cause you to consider the Dark Side.

Firstly, even though Apple’s high profile dumping of Motorola for Intel has bought the price of Macs crashing down, they still can’t usually compete with PCs when it comes to the pure quantitative power of consider clock speed, RAM and other nerdy factors.

Plus, if you do have to switch to or adopt a Windows machine, Sony is close to the top of the list when it comes to product design and usability.

There’s an endless dance between processor power and power consumption in notebooks. Manufacturers and consumers both want notebooks to be faster while conserving battery lives that are already unworkable in many situations. The answer isn’t to pack as much RAM as possible into the chassis like we can in desktop models, but make it work smarter with the limited power it can draw from today’s battery technology.

With that in mind, the VGN-FZ18G is one of the first laptops in the country to brings us Intel’s fourth generation Centrino chipset, dubbed Santa Rosa. It’s still a Core 2 chip but has several advances over older models. Firstly, the mobile chipset component has an 800 Mhz bus speed with front side switching. In laymans terms, that means if the second of the Duo chip components isn’t being used — and there still aren’t a lot of applications under Windows Vista that demand it — it powers down, extending battery life.

Improvements made to the chipset as a whole are said to give around a 10 percent increase in performance and speed. Put in perspective, its 2Gb of RAM will perform as well as an older system with 2.3Gb.

Shared graphics and shared memory options are becoming more popular in the laptop world, and the VGN-FZ18G has both. The coating on the screen is a step up even from the glassy new screens laptops have sported for the last 12-18 months, giving you richer contrast and stronger colours. If you’ve bought Windows Vista for the eye candy, the VGN-FZ18G will really show it off.

Sony’s also doing everything it can to cross the finish line first in the Blu-ray/HD-DVD stoush, and every Sony product you buy will be tied into the Blu-ray delivery chain somewhere. In this case, it’s a Blu-ray DVD burner.

If you’re not scared to back a winning format in a race that’s not by any means over, you’ll at least have some huge disc-writing capacity. Besides Blu-ray’s 25Gb disc size (50Gb for a dual layer disc), the optical drive works with over 10 formats of disk media.

The VAIO VGN-FZ18G comes with Vista Home edition, so it isn’t really set up for big-scale networking, but it has a very groovy carbon chassis, a pleasant finish and a comfortable keyboard layout. It’s a powerful machine for high-end uses like image editing and heavy-duty page layout, and has plenty of power where it counts to play games and run all your office applications as well.

RRP $3,399

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