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First Take: Sony VAIO A39GP

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Sony VAIO A39GP
Sony's latest flagship VAIO notebook will appeal to avid gamers and multimedia enthusiasts with deep pockets.

Upside:
Sony's latest flagship VAIO, the A39GP boasts some pretty impressive specs. Pitched at the high-end of the desktop replacement market, this multimedia notebook features a beautiful 17-inch widescreen LCD with Clear Bright technology that supports resolutions up to WUXGA (1920 x 1200 pixels).

The notebook can be attached to a dock that Sony includes in the package, which provides convenient connections to peripherals via an array of ports. There are four USB 2.0 ports, VGA output, DVI-D, optical digital audio out, RJ-45 Ethernet, stereo audio inputs and outputs, composite video out, S-Video out and a printer port. Sony includes two desktop speakers that plug directly into dedicated audio connections on the dock.

Centrino technology is onboard the A39GP with a Pentium M processor 770 (2.13GHz) that, like the recently released Pentium 4 chips, supports Intel's power-saving SpeedStep technology. Providing memory to drive multiple applications is 512MB of RAM, which is expandable to 2GB.

The A39GP features 802.11b/g integrated wireless networking and a gigabit 1000Base-T Ethernet jack for fast wired connections. Also included are a 5,400rpm 100GB Serial ATA hard drive and a multi-format DVD burner that supports double layer +R media. An ATI Mobility Radeon X600 with 128MB of dedicated video memory handles the graphics.

Downside:
While the A39GP might be an A/V entertainment master, it comes at a very high price. With a recommended retail price of $4,999, there aren't many other consumer notebooks that top this price. By comparison, Apple's high-end 17-inch Powerbook retails for AU$4,299 -- sans port replicator and speakers though.

Outlook:
The VAIO A39GP will appeal to gamers and multimedia users looking for a powerful notebook for the home environment.

Sony also launched six other notebooks under the VAIO brand last week, which included business models, all-round performance notebooks and a 1.3kg ultraportable laptop, the T27.

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The T27 is a comparatively tiny model with a 10.6-inch widescreen display, 60GB hard disk, DVD+/-RW drive and an Intel Pentium M processor 753 (1.2GHz). Sony claims the T27 offers up to 8.5 hours of battery life from a single charge, or sustains 5 hours of constant DVD play back.

Jeremy Roche reports for CNET.com.au. For more coverage on mobile computing, click here.

Sony VAIO A39GP
Company: Sony Australia
Price: AU$4,999
Phone: 1300 720 071