Until recently, the most portable laptops required too many sacrifices from a user: tiny keyboards with poor layouts, annoying external drives, and heavy external batteries. The lightweight and highly portable Sony VAIO VGN-T2XP/L, however, offers a built-in optical drive and a full complement of features, as well as good performance. Along with the Sharp Actius MP30 and the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D, the VAIO VGN-T2XP/L joins the small but growing new breed of ultraportable laptops that pack the punch of much larger systems.
Measuring a mere 272 by 34 by 205mm, the VAIO VGN-T2XP/L is about the size of a brief, tall hardcover book; at 1.4kg, it weighs about the same as an issue of Vogue. It features a characteristically appealing Sony design and an exterior that the company calls 'midnight blue' -- it looked black to us -- and a silver interior. We really like the dedicated, assignable media-control buttons that sit on the rounded screen hinge; we particularly appreciate that they're accessible when the notebook is open or closed.
Keyboard issues -- weird layouts and tiny keys -- are often the biggest single drawback to using an ultraportable. Even the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D has some important keys that are just too small. However, we found it easy to type accurately on the VAIO VGN-T2XP/L, thanks to relatively generously sized and well placed Backspace, Enter, and Tab keys. The touch pad is big enough, but the mouse buttons are too small for our taste.
There's a full complement of connectors on the left and right sides of the VAIO VGN-T2XP/L: one FireWire and two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet and modem, and a VGA output. Also onboard is a handy wireless on/off switch for saving your battery while offline, headphone and microphone jacks, and volume and mute buttons. A PC Card slot adds another opportunity for expansion and a Memory Stick slot gives you a way to transfer files from a Sony digital camera. Sony's stubborn refusal to support other flash-memory cards remains an annoyance. The inclusion of Bluetooth is a nice extra.
Powered by an Intel graphics chip that borrows 64MB of video RAM from system memory, the VAIO VGN-T2XP/L has a 10.6-inch wide-screen display with a 1,280x768 native resolution. Spreadsheet users will love being able to fit extra cells onscreen, but Web surfers will have to squint to see some of the text. DVD playback looked a little jerky.
The VAIO VGN-T2XP/L's multiformat DVD burner is all the drive you'll ever need, but we would have loved to see Sony implement a swappable optical drive, as seen in the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D. Like most laptop speakers, the VAIO VGN-T2XP/L's stereo speakers sound tinny; we recommend you use your headphones. Sony includes a good package of software that includes Microsoft Works, a trial version of Microsoft Office, and a nice multimedia software bundle, with PictureGear Studio, Click to DVD, and Sony's DVGate Plus video-editing program.
Though other configurations are available, the VAIO VGN-T2XP/L that we tested featured a 1.1GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB of RAM, and a 40GB hard drive -- standard components for a system this size and comparable to those of the slightly less expensive LifeBook P7010D. The VAIO VGN-T2XP/L turned in a solid performance and will handle business tasks with aplomb. Even better, the system's 7,200mAh lithium-ion battery lasted an incredible five hours, 46 minutes in our tests.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
||BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
||BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes|
Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D
Windows XP Professional; 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel Extreme Graphics 2 For Mobile (up to 64MB); Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm
Sharp Actius MP30
Windows XP Home; 1.6GHz Efficeon TM8800; 512MBMB DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Fujitsu MHT2040AT SP 40GB 4,200rpm
Sony VAIO VGN-T2XP/L
Windows XP Professional; 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M ULV 733; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel Extreme Graphics 2 For Mobile (up to 64MB); Toshiba MK2004GAH 40GB 4,200rpm
Edited by Justin Jaffe
Additional editing by Nick Hide