- ✓Good performance
- ✓15in. TFT display
- ✓30GB hard disk.
- ✕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.