Summary: A good transportable platform for multimedia content creation - if you can afford it.

  • User rating:
  • RRP:


  • Good performance
  • 15in. TFT display
  • 30GB hard disk.


  • Expensive
  • no LAN connection as standard.

Sony's flagship desktop replacement notebook is the VAIO PCG-F809K, which features an 850MHz Mobile Pentium III processor, 128MB of RAM, a massive 30GB hard disk and an equally massive 15in. TFT display.

Clad in Sony's familiar purple and grey VAIO livery, the F809K is a bulky system weighing 3.2kg (3.6kg with the AC adapter) and measuring 32.4cm wide by 26.6cm deep by 5.4cm high. Even so, it's slightly smaller and lighter than Dell's Inspiron 8000. A three-spindle design, our review model came with a fixed eight-speed DVD-ROM drive on the right-hand side, flanked by a modular bay containing a 1.44MB floppy drive. The latter can be replaced with a second Li-ion battery, which might be necessary if you intend to travel with F809K as the standard 2,600mAh Li-ion unit only powers the system for two hours.

The combination of an 850MHz Mobile Pentium III SpeedStep processor, 128MB of PC100 SDRAM and a 30GB IBM hard disk deliver predictably good performance, even though the Intel 440BX chipset limits hard disk controller support to Ultra-ATA/33. The F809K's Business Winstone 99 score of 34.3 under Windows 2000 Professional. This figure is slightly below that of the two 850MHz Dell systems we've reviewed because of the system's less powerful 8MB ATi Rage Mobility M1 graphics chipset, which delivers a Business Graphics WinMark 99 score of 180 compared to 251 and 289 for Latitude C600 and Inspiron 8000 respectively.

There's nothing wrong with the TFT display, though, which matches Dell's Inspiron 8000 with its 15in. diagonal and 1,400 by 1,050 resolution. If you want to view DVD movies or your own video material on an external screen, you can use the VGA port to attach an external monitor, or the AV mini-jack to hook up a TV screen. Sound quality from the Yamaha DS-XG-driven internal speakers is adequate, but much better through headphones or external speakers.

The F809K is well equipped as far as I/O ports and expansion is concerned, featuring a pair of stacked Type II PC Card slots on the left-hand side and a connector for the optional docking station on the underside. Like all VAIOs, the F809K has an i.LINK (IEEE 1394) port, as well as more traditional connectors such as serial, parallel, VGA, PS/2 and dual USB. There's an RJ-11 port for the internal 56Kbit/s modem, but if you want a LAN connection you'll need to use up a PC Card slot for the optional 10/100Mbit/s CardBus Ethernet card. You'll also be disappointed if you're looking for an infrared port.

The 87-key keyboard is well laid out, with sensible arrangements of cursor, PgUp, PgDn, Home, End and Delete keys, while the two-button trackpad works well. As well as Windows 2000 Professional, the F809K comes with Sony's customary multimedia software bundle, which now includes the MovieShaker video-editing software.

The VAIO PCG-F809K is a typically stylish and feature-rich notebook from Sony that commands an equally typical price premium. However, if you don't mind paying a bit extra, you won't be disappointed.


Dimensions (W x H x D) 32.4x5.4x26.6 cm
Weight 3.2 kg
OS & software
Operating system Windows 2000 Professional
Software included Sony software: DVgate, Media Bar, PictureGear, MovieShaker, SmartConnect & SmartConnect Monitor, BatteryScope, PowerPanel, Sony Notebook Setup, VAIO Action Setup, VisualFlow. Other software: Premiere LE, Acrobat Reader QuickTime, RealPlayer 7
Chipset & memory
Chipset Intel 440BX
RAM installed 128 MB
Number of memory slots 2
RAM capacity 0.25 GB
Storage controller Ultra-ATA/33
VGA (analogue) 1
Video out AV mini-jack
GPU ATi Rage Mobility M1 AGP
Graphics RAM 8 MB
Display technology colour TFT
Display size 15 in
Native resolution 1400x1050 pixels
Serial 1
Parallel 1
FireWire (IEEE 1394) 1
Docking station port yes
PC Card 2 x Type II, 1 x Type III
Ethernet no
Modem 56Kbps
Pointing devices two-button touchpad
Keyboard 87 keys, 19mm pitch
Audio connectors microphone, headphone
Speakers stereo
Audio processor Yamaha DS-XG
Microphone yes
Accessories Docking station (£119), CardBus Ethernet II 10/100 LAN card (£129), 2nd Li-ion battery (£149)
Service & support
Standard warranty 1 year
Battery technology Li-ion
Battery capacity 2600 mAh
Hard drive
Rotation speed 4200 rpm
Hard drive interface Ultra ATA/66
Hard drive capacity 30 GB
Processor & memory
Clock speed 0.85 GHz
Processor manufacturer Intel
Processor model Mobile Pentium III


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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews


Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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1 comment
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  • 9.0

    A well-rounded laptop, mobile and an effective machine to work with -- ideal for the fast-moving buinessman and individual traders.