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Sony Vaio SZ4 slimline laptop

It's slim but is it a lightweight?

Sony describes this model as a "premium carbon fibre notebook for professionals", so the Business Edition may seem like the natural choice. This version of Vista doesn't include BitLocker encryption, which may well seem like a handy tool if you want to keep the business data on your laptop safe from thieves and prying eyes. Sony has clearly thought of this and has the situation covered. Between the two mouse buttons there's a fingerprint reader which is identified as a TouchChip Fingerprint Coprocessor in the Device Manager which is controlled by a copy of Upek Protector Suite QL v5.6. This fingerprint software can digitise your fingerprints and store them as encryption keys on the hard drive or, if you prefer, in the sensor itself. This gives you the option to right-click on a file and then add the file to an encrypted archive.

Sony Vaio SZ4 series notebook

Taking a tour of the chassis you get a reasonable array of ports and connectors. On the left side there are jacks for headphones and a microphone, along with a Firewire 400 port, VGA, an old-style PC Card slot and a Memory Stick/SD/xD card reader.

There's not much going on at the back as the battery takes up most of the space. It's the right side where things get a bit more interesting. There's a multi-format DVD writer, two USB ports, network, modem and an ExpressCard 34 slot. Normally, we'd say that the ExpressCard slot could come in handy when it's time for an upgrade of some sort. However, Sony includes a £230 Novatel Merlin XU870 HSDPA 3.6Mbps 3G ExpressCard with the SZ4. Install the card and sign up for the suggested T-Mobile Web'n'Walk package and you can have (almost) unlimited high-speed data transfer for £30 per month.

To round off the list of features, there's Bluetooth, with switches above the keyboard for this and the 802.11b/g wireless. Above the screen there's a 0.3-megapixel webcam.

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