The VAIO TX1 caused a major stir when it was unveiled in 2005. Many consider it the most accomplished ultraportable laptop ever released thanks to its svelte exterior, stylish chassis and excellent battery life. Its successor, the VAIO TX2, makes just as good an impression. Available from www.sonystyle.co.uk and other good retailers, it is the smallest, lightest two-spindle laptop on the market, incorporating an integrated DVD rewriter, an ample hard drive and strong connectivity features. However in a world where dual-core processors are fast becoming the norm, it'll be interesting to see whether its reliance on older technology is its Achilles' heel.
The VAIO TX2 is the epitome of sexy. It is just 272.4mm wide by 195mm deep, and is just over 28mm thin, so when you slip it into its accompanying leather carry-case, it looks as if you're carrying a small Filofax rather than a state of the art laptop. It feels like you're carrying one too -- the TX2 is a lightweight 1.24kg.
The lid of our review sample, which bears the full moniker VAIO VGN-TX2XP/L, is a resplendent dark blue, but there are silver and blue versions available -- albeit with differing specs. The screen itself is an absurdly thin 5mm. The body section of all TX2s (including the keyboards) are of a carbon fibre construction and finished in silver. The mouse touchpad, also silver, has a Braille-like dot pattern beneath its smooth plastic shield, but the small mouse buttons below it felt a tad fiddly.
Like the TX1, the TX2 has a set of control switches mounted at the front. These include a hardware wireless switch for one-touch activation of the integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi adaptors, volume control buttons, headphone and mic sockets and a card reader. Refreshingly, Sony has included an SD Card slot alongside the traditional MagicGate Memory Stick reader -- a feature not seen on all VAIO laptops.
Sony has somehow crammed an optical drive into the right side of the laptop. Just behind this is a VGA port for connecting the TX2 to an external display, and on the opposite side of the laptop, there's a modem port and two USB ports. One of these is shielded behind a body-coloured flap. The rear is barren with just a 4-pin Firewire port and an Ethernet adaptor.
Like most new VAIO laptops, the TX2 is of second-generation Centrino heritage. Sony has opted not to use one of the latest dual-core processors and the Intel 945 chipset. Instead, we get an ageing Pentium M 753 clocked at a modest 1.2GHz on an Intel 915 chipset. The CPU is comparatively slow, but it consumes little power (which aids longer battery life) and is paired with a respectable 1GB of Ram.
You won't be playing any games on the VAIO TX2. Its integrated graphics card, as supplied by the Intel 915 chipset, can share 64MB of main system memory, but it won't run anything more demanding than a DVD movie or Powerpoint presentation.
Sony is keen to highlight the laptop's multimedia capabilities and has furnished it with a set of dedicated AV control buttons just above the main keyboard. When in Windows XP, these provide basic playback functions and quick access to WinDVD, SonicStage and Windows Media Player.