Sony VAIO PCG-FX109K

sony-vaio-px109k-thumb.gif
  • Editors' rating
    7.7 Very good

Pros

  • Fast, feature-packed and well built.

Cons

  • Bulky and expensive
  • no PS/2 or infrared ports
  • moderate battery life.

The PCG-FX109K is the flagship of Sony's FX100 series of notebooks, and offers power and features without seriously compromising portability. At £2,809 (ex. VAT) you pay quite handsomely for all this, but if you're after a fully-featured desktop replacement notebook and you're prepared to pay for it, look no further.

This is no ultraportable: weighing 3.1kg minimum and measuring 32.4cm by 26.6cm by 5.5cm it's neither small nor light -- and it gets heavier if you include the floppy drive or a second battery. But what Sony has managed to fit into this case is pretty remarkable.

The 15in. TFT display has a native resolution of 1,400 by 1,050 pixels, which is bettered only by Dell's top-of-the-range Inspiron 8000 with its 1,600 by 1,200 pixel display. To fit the screen into the lid, the bezel is only a centimetre wide, but fortunately the lid itself is quite stiff, which should minimise the chances of damage in transit. In addition to the standard VGA socket on the back panel, there's also a TV-out connector, allowing you to make presentations on a TV screen, or watch a DVD movie. A supplied adapter cable for the TV-out port connects to a composite video socket.

The fixed optical media drive is a combined DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, which should cover most needs. There's also a floppy drive built-in, but this can be removed and replaced with a weight saver if you don't need it. You can also use the slot for a second battery. The 30GB IBM TravelStar 30GT hard drive is a 4,200rpm UltraATA/66 device. This isn't that fast, and in a notebook equipped for video editing you might expect something quicker.

The FX109K is fitted with a 400Mbit/s i.LINK (IEEE 1394) interface, which is primarily intended for connecting to digital video equipment. You can also attach external hard disks or use the connection for high-speed networking, since TCP/IP is preinstalled. More conventional networking is catered for by a built-in 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet connection, and there's an internal V.90 modem provided too. There are two USB ports, one on each side of the rear panel, plus serial and parallel ports, but no PS/2 or infrared ports. A pair of CardBus-compatible Type II PC Card slots should handle any option not already included in this notebook, such as 802.11b wireless networking or Bluetooth connectivity. Curiously for Sony, there's no Memory Stick slot in the FX109K.

Powering all this hardware is an 850MHz Mobile Pentium III processor. The FX109K comes with 128MB SDRAM fitted, leaving one SO-DIMM slot free for expansion up to a maximum of 512MB. This combination gives a respectable Business Winstone score of 26.3 -- not the fastest we've tested by any means, but speedy nonetheless. With a single battery you get just over two hours of use at full power. This isn't great, but battery life can be extended via Intel's SpeedStep CPU technology and by judicious use of power management settings.

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Windows 2000 Professional is preinstalled, and Sony bundles a range of mostly image-related software. This includes MovieShaker and Adobe Premier 5.1 LE for video editing, PictureGear for stills, and InterVideo's WinDVD software MPEG player. DVgate allows video capture over the i.LINK interface, and Adaptec Direct CD and Easy CD Creator allow you to create discs with the CD-RW drive.

The VAIO PCG-FX109K provides plenty of features and delivers the performance to support them. However, it does this at a hefty price, even for a desktop replacement system.

Specifications

Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Pentium III 850 MHz
Cache L2 - 256 KB - Advanced Transfer Cache
Data Bus Speed 100 MHz
Chipset Type Intel 815EM
General
Recommended Use corporate business, small business
Operating System Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
Storage
Optical Drive 1 x CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo
Compliant Standards 2nd generation, CD-DA, CD-XA, CDi, Kodak PhotoCD, Video CD
Read Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Write Speed 8x
CD / DVD Rewrite Speed 4x
Type portable
Memory
Max Supported Size 512 MB
Technology SDRAM
Speed 100 MHz
Form Factor SO-DIMM 144-pin
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Display
Resolution 1400 x 1050 (SXGA+)
Widescreen Display No
Diagonal Size (metric) 38.1 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation SXGA+
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor AGP 11 MB
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Supported Display Graphics SVGA (800x600), SXGA (1280x1024), SXGA+ (1400x1050), VGA (640x480), XGA (1024x768)
Analogue Video Format NTSC, PAL
Sound Microphone
Compliant Standards Sound Blaster
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Communications
Wireless Controller PCI
Wired Protocol 10/100 Ethernet
Processor
Installed Qty 1
Max Supported Qty 1
Upgradability not upgradable
Type Pentium III
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 850 MHz
AC Adapter
Input AC 110/220 V ± 20% (50/60 Hz)
Connections & Expansion
Slots 2 x PC Card (2 free)
2 x memory (1 free)
Interfaces 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) 6 PIN FireWire
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
2 x USB 4 pin USB Type A
1 x keyboard / mouse - generic - 6 pin mini-DIN (PS/2 style)
1 x serial - RS-232 - 9 pin D-Sub (DB-9)
1 x parallel - IEEE 1284 (EPP/ECP) - 25 pin D-Sub (DB-25)
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x display / video - composite video output - RCA
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone mono 3.5 mm
1 x headphones - output - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
1 x docking / port replicator
1 x network - Ethernet 10/100 - RJ-45
Header
Brand Sony
Product Line Sony VAIO
Model PCG-FX109K
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet
Compliant Standards IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u
Miscellaneous
Colour black
Integrated Options Microphone, stereo speakers, keyboard, touchpad, display
Features power-on password
System
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 30 GB
Dimensions & Weight
Width 32.4 cm
Depth 26.6 cm
Height 5.5 cm
Monitor
Diagonal Size 15 in
Native Resolution 1400 x 1050
Colour Support 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Mainboard
Data Bus Speed 100 MHz
Chipset Type Intel 815EM
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
Installed Size 256 KB
RAM
Form Factor SO-DIMM 144-pin
Technology SDRAM
Installed Size 128 MB
Max Supported Size 512 MB
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Memory Speed 100 MHz
Hard Drive
Type HDD
Installed Qty 1
Capacity 30 GB
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.1 kg
Power
Voltage Required AC 110/220 V
Compliant Standards EPA Energy Star
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
Type Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Premiere LE, Sony VisualFlow, Drivers & Utilities, Quick Time 4, Sony DVgate, Sony Media Bar, Sony MovieShaker, Sony PictureGear, Sony PictureToy, Sony Smart Capture
Optical Storage
Drive Type CD-RW / DVD
Type CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo
Video Memory
Installed Size 11 MB
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Location carry-in
Full Contract Period 1 year

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