Many ultra-portable laptops share the familiar trait of lacking storage space, but the SV5P uses a massive 120GB hard drive, which should be enough to keep all but the most avid of file sharers wallowing in digital multimedia content for some time. The laptop also contains an integrated dual-layer DVD rewriter drive, so you'll be able to make backups of up to 8.5GB in size when using compatible media.
One of our favourite features on the VAIO S5VP is its widescreen (1,280x800 pixels) 13.3-inch display. It uses Sony's X-Black screen coating, which is designed to provide improved brightness and contrast. The effect is quite startling, particularly when playing DVD movies or viewing digital images. Some users argue that X-Black is a little too reflective and can render a laptop unusable in direct light, but the same can be said of screens that do not use reflective coating. In our tests, the S5VP worked very well both indoors and outdoors in a variety of lighting conditions.
As well as the aforementioned 802.11a/b/g wireless compatibility, this laptop also features Bluetooth. This makes it easy to synchronise your contacts or calendar in Microsoft Outlook without having to fool around with messy cables. Bluetooth also gives you the option of getting online via a mobile phone if you aren't within the coverage area of a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Like most VAIOs, you get a strong software bundle with the S5VP. Windows XP Professional is standard, as are copies of Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0, Acrobat Elements, Premier Standard and Microsoft Works. These packages are handy since you can start working within seconds of unpacking the laptop. As a bonus, buying the S5VP directly from the Sony Style Web site will also get you 12 months of free broadband from BT, including the router -- a saving of over £215.
The VAIO S5VP is surprisingly quick given its diminutive stature. Its use of the fastest available mobile Intel CPU makes it a force to contend with in everyday office productivity and Internet content creation tasks. It racked up a strong Sysmark 2005 score of 151, which isn't a million miles behind the Alienware Area-51 m5700 gaming laptop, so you should have no complaints whether working with spreadsheets, large multimedia files or databases.
The VAIO S5VP's gaming abilities aren't as impressive, inevitably, but it's not as bad as it could have been. Sony could easily have opted for the onboard graphics adaptor on the Intel 915GM chipset, but its use of the faster Nvidia GeForce 6200 Go adaptor means the laptop will actually play some 3D games. At a resolution of 1,024x768, Far Cry ran at an average of 31.73 frames per second and Doom 3 at 19.8fps.
Sony claims a battery life of up to three hours, which is fairly good for a laptop of this specification. We're currently running our own independent battery tests and will update this review shortly with the results.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide