Want a laptop that can run the gamut of tasks with the greatest of ease? Look no further than the Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU. It's unlikely to disappoint as it more than fulfils the role of desktop replacement, capable of doing almost anything an office-bound PC can. The AR61ZU is available for around £1,600.
At 3.9kg, the AR61ZU is at the bottom end of the desktop replacement spectrum. It's also extremely powerful, thanks to its 2.4GHz Intel T8300 Core 2 Duo processor and whopping 4GB of RAM. As a result, it managed to score one of the highest PC Mark05 scores we've ever seen -- a massive 5,797. This number confirms that it's more than capable of handling strenuous applications and workloads, despite its semi-mobile form factor.
When it comes to gaming, the AR61ZU shines. It sports a powerful Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip. Running the 3D Mark06 gaming test, it managed a very respectable score of 3,826, which puts it among the top machines for graphics performance.
It's also an excellent entertainment machine. With the combination of its internal Blu-ray drive and its large 17-inch screen with a resolution of 1,920x1,200 pixels, you can watch high-definition movies and 1080p HD content without having to downscale the image. If you'd rather watch movies on the big screen, then there's an HDMI port, making it simple to hook up to a flatscreen TV.
As it runs Windows Vista Ultimate edition, Microsoft's PVR Media Center application is included. There's an internal TV tuner so you don't need to mess around with bulky USB add-ons if you want to record your favourite programmes. There's also plenty of storage space to record TV episodes, as well as other files, as the system boasts not one but a whopping two 250GB hard drives. In total, you get a massive 500GB of space to play with.
Although you could in theory take the AR61ZU out and about with you, its portable abilities are more suited to desk-to-couch proximity of travel. Although it gently tips the scales at just under 4kg, it's not the sort of thing you'd want to carry that far unless you're in training for the summer Olympics.
Unfortunately, if you do take it on the road, you'll have to go right back to the mains rather quickly. It only managed to hold out for a rather short 1 hour 10 minutes while running the intensive Battery Eater test. We're not too impressed. It fared slightly better at the less strenuous Reader test, but still only achieved 2 hours 29 minutes before giving up the ghost.
The biggest downside of the AR61ZU, however, is its price. At £1,600, there's no denying this desktop replacement will take the weight off your wallet.
Should you require a semi-portable machine that has the power of a desktop computer and you have money burning holes in your trousers, go for the AR61ZU. It's extremely powerful both at desktop applications and playing high-definition content. Although it might not be the lightweight carry-on for frequent fliers, it still takes up less space than a desktop machine.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday