At an MRP of Rs 74,990 the VGN-SR26GN is not a bad laptop. It has a decent screen and is quite compact. It looks classy and will do a businessman proud but then for another Rs 25,000 you can get a Vaio Z series, with a carbon fiber shell and a much better screen that has much better build quality and slightly faster components. Comparing this new Vaio to the new Apple Macbook and the Dell XPS M1330 we have to say that we’d prefer either of those two over this; though not for any serious dearth, just the overall feel of the product. It’s got that built-to-a-budget feel which we come across in a few products and we personally like to skip them.
A Little Less Vaio, Same Old Sony
Sony’s SR series mix performance and portability in equal proportions or so they say. The SR26GN’s body is done in steel grey with silver which looks suitably suave and business-like while the top of the lid is finished in black embedded with tiny little shiny silver particles; this gives the impression of sheen on the surface which looks tasteful. The screen bezel is quite narrow which is always good and the lid itself is pretty slim; it almost seems as if this laptop uses an LED screen because of its slimness. Build quality is strictly decent and this is a problem we feel; since Vaio’s have always been amazingly well built. There seems to be a noticeable divide in the build quality of the Vaio notebooks below Rs 1 lakh and those above it; we feel this shouldn’t be the case as it is a letdown from what we expect from any product wearing the Vaio moniker. With this notebook this build issue is noticeable in the area near the CD tray where there is unnecessary play and flex both in the material and the hollow where the optical drive assembly is inserted.
The trackpad is reasonably sensitive and accuracy is very good; a fingerprint login (read biometrics) device is built into the trackpad between the left and right click buttons. Overall this notebook looks expensive despite the sometimes tacky build and is quite compact for a 13.3-inch; more so than Dells XPS M1330 and Apples Macbook; which speaks volumes for Sony’s design.
Well laid out keypad the button spacing on this segregated keypad seems a little wider than that of the keypad on the Macbook/Macbook Pro but we didn’t have any serious issue using it. The keys exude a kind of clicky feel in the beginning and the key travel is very short; feedback is positive. There’s a dedicated button for switching on your WLAN and Bluetooth but by default it activates the Vaio connection wizard which allows you to choose whether to switch on or off these two connectivity options in addition to LAN and modem options. The power button is an attractive and bright green button that is built into the side of the cylindrical base; the other side of this base accommodates the charging pin. There are also five unmarked buttons on the flap below the screen; and these are configurable; although this isn’t very useful as you will probably confuse them because of lack of marking.
The screen itself isn’t very good and while super clear and very bright for text and surfing it is a letdown for any kind of multimedia work because of its poor viewing angles. That being said its viewing angles are only slightly worse than the new Apple Macbook; which is similarly priced. The screen is slightly worse than the LED backlit display of the Dell XPS M1330. Sony provides a switch called Mode; which toggles between Business, Entertainment and Private modes. These modes are simply customisable screens which can be set up with shortcut icons for common tasks; nifty but pretty useless to most people who may never use it. The icon for each of these modes is present in a small tray at the middle of the bottom part of the screen; this reminds of the Mac systems. Unfortunately there’s no one touch restore button which we’ve come to look for in laptops in this price range and the same is achieved by a certain combination of key presses which is most annoying.
Powered by a new Intel P series processor (P8400, 2.26 GHz) the SR26GN has sufficient horsepower under the hood. 3 GB of RAM makes Vista quite snappy, while an ATI Radeon HD 3470 graphics solution with 256-MB of dedicated memory handles most multimedia tasks (except for gaming) rather easily. We tried gaming and while we were able to get a decent 66 fps in Company Of Heroes at a resolution of 1024 x 768 this notebook is certainly not for gamers. However it will easily get all other tasks done snappily. The presence of an HDMI port is a nice plus; you can hook this up to large screen displays for presentations and such. The notebooks palmrest gets rather warm with usage and we although not hot enough to be of a serious concern it will lightly warm your hands; which may be a good thing or not depending on the weather.