Sony Vaio VGN-X505VP

The world's most desirable notebook?

As far as sound goes, the only thing you're likely to hear is the hard disk spinning. There isn't a single fan inside the X505VP. Instead Sony has used something called a graphite heat diffusion sheet. This sheet draws heat away from the CPU and motherboard chipset; it is then radiated away through the chassis. It would appear that the main heat dissipation area is between the top of the keyboard and the bottom of the screen. This open area gets quite hot to the touch while the rest of the notebook remains surprisingly cool. With almost no heat radiating through the base of the chassis, you'll have no worries when working with this notebook on your lap for extended periods.

Despite the slim casing there are still a fair few ports scattered around the X505VP. On the left side you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, a four-pin FireWire port complete with DC power output, and a proprietary port. The latter accepts a dongle that gives you both D-SUB and Ethernet connections. On the right side there's a headphone socket and a single Type II PC Card slot. Unfortunately the PC Card slot doesn't have a spring loaded flap and instead you have to put a spacer in there when you're not using a card. This is a little disappointing considering the superb design everywhere else, and it does mean that you could lose the spacer and end up with an unsightly hole in the side of your beautiful Vaio.

Of course with a machine this small you're not going to get an integrated optical drive, but Sony has got this covered. Contrary to what you might have read elsewhere, the X505VP ships with a DVD writer that will burn to both DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW media. You can of course also write to CD-R/RW discs as well. Having a DVD writer bundled makes the X505VP a much more versatile machine, even if you leave the optical drive at home or in the office much of the time. The DVD writer requires no external power, instead drawing power from the DC output next to the four-pin FireWire port.

It's unfortunate that the X505VP doesn't have integrated Wi-Fi, but Sony has supplied an 802.11g PC Card in the box. The card matches the design of the notebook perfectly, and the antena points upwards, so as not to add too much to the dimensions when inserted. In use, the PC Card worked flawlessly and hooked up to my home 802.11g network straight away.

The second PC card that you'll find in the box is a memory card adapter, and for once Sony hasn't assumed that the whole world has adopted MemoryStick. The adapter will accept MemoryStick, SmartMedia, SD and MMC cards. So, you should be able to transfer images from almost any digital camera, as long as you don't have one using CompactFlash.

You get a stylish black carrying case for the X505VP that's lined with velvet to keep it safe. The case has no handles but it's designed to fit in your bag rather than be used as a bag. The case is surprisingly stiff and feels like it would protect the notebook well if you were silly enough to drop it. A similar case is supplied to house the accessories like the PC cards, cables and dongle. Strangely there's no space in either case for the power supply, but I get the feeling that this little beauty is supposed to be carried with you at all times and used on battery power throughout the day.

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