With expansive 16:9 displays and Blu-ray drives, the new crop of desktop replacements with 18.4-inch displays are geared toward mobile entertainment. Though its design is nothing special, the Sony VAIO AW series stands out from this group, according to reviews at PCMag.com and LaptopMag.com, thanks to its high-quality, LED-backlit 1,920-by-1,080 display.
"The color reproduction on this laptop's high-definition, Adobe RGB-compatible display is unparalleled," PCMag.com gushes. And "if you think photos look great on the screen, wait until you pop in a Blu-ray movie." The matte display is also better-suited for professional applications than the glossy displays on competitors such as the Acer Aspire 8920G, HP HDX 18 and Toshiba Qosmio G55 series. The only real drawback: The $3,219 VAIO VGN-AW190 configuration PCMag.com tested included slower 4,200rpm drives, though it did have 1TB of storage. (Sony offers faster drives--up to 640GB with 7,200rpm models--and SSDs.) Typical users might be better off with a less-costly desktop replacement such as HP's HDX 18, but the "Sony VAIO VGN-AW190 is not your average desktop replacement. It has professional photographer, serious artist, or graphics designer written all over it."
LaptopMag.com tested a $4,000 configuration, the Sony VAIO VGN-AW180Y/Q, with dual 64GB SSDs and a 5,400rpm 500GB hard drive. The display is bright, less-reflective and has wide viewing angles. "When we watched an episode of Heroes on Blu-ray, the screen produced accurate colors and rich details, and for the most part, the scenes looked fluid," the review stated, though playback "hiccupped" a few times. The 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9600, 4GB of memory and Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT with 512MB delivered better performance than anything short of the Lenovo ThinkPad W700 mobile workstation. The pricey SSDs weren't much faster than the HP HDX 18's dual 7,200rpm 160GB hard drives on file transfer tests--and the HDX 18 has a slicker design and better keyboard--but the Sony AW series is a "powerful, feature-packed entertainment notebook."
Reviews of the Sony VAIO AW series: