- ✓Eyecatching design.
- ✕Unremarkable performance and battery life
- ✕relatively expensive.
Sony has produced a VAIO notebook that it hopes will appeal to students, and other young people from what Sony calls the 'Playstation generation'. However, the reality is that the price (£1,104 ex. VAT, or £1,297 inc.VAT) will have to fall somewhat for it to succeed in this market.
The design of the PCG-QR10 certainly isn't going to appeal to business users. With its shiny black plastic and silver piping, it looks more like a fashion accessory than a serious productivity tool. The tilt stand doubles as a carry handle, allowing you to pick up the PCG-QR10 quickly -- providing you remember to remove any cables first. At 3kg it's quite heavy compared to some notebooks, and doesn't have the modular drive bays seen in many notebooks of this weight. We wouldn't recommend you carry the notebook far this way, since it's not protected from knocks and the prominent 'VAIO' logo on top of the unit makes it obvious what you're carrying to any would-be thieves. You also need somewhere to put the external power supply.
The hardware specification is nothing special: the PCG-QR10 is built around a 650MHz Intel Celeron supported by just 64MB RAM, which is upgradeable to 512MB. Fixed storage is provided by a 10GB hard drive, which is large enough for most purposes unless you want to store and process large amounts of digital video. The 13.3in. colour TFT screen has a native resolution of 1,024 by 768, and is driven by the Intel 815 chipset's integrated graphics module. This moderate specification is reflected in the PCG-QR10's unremarkable Business Winstone 2001 score of 16.
The 650MHz Mobile Celeron processor lacks Intel's power-saving SpeedStep technology and the standard Li-ion battery is only a 1,700mAh unit, all of which conspires to deliver a disappointing BatteryMark 4 score of 1 hour and 27 minutes.
The PCG-QR10 has a legacy-free design, so the iLink (IEEE 1394) and USB ports are the only way of connecting peripherals to this notebook. Built-in 10/100 Ethernet networking and a V.90 modem make getting connected relatively easy, and you can connect an external monitor using the standard VGA port. However, there's no dedicated docking station or port replicator for this notebook. A pair of stacked Type II PC card slots plus headphone and microphone jacks complete the expansion options. The only removable drive is a built-in 24-speed CD-ROM drive, so any other removable media you want to use will have to be connected externally.
As well as a two-button trackpad for navigation, the PCG-QR10 has a Jog Dial at the top right-hand side of the 87-key keyboard. Although the Jog Dial may be very useful on handhelds and ultraportables, it's less so on a notebook with a full-sized keyboard and trackpad -- you can do many of the things the Jog Dial comes configured to do in a few keypresses.
The PCG-QR10 is supplied with Windows ME. You're given a recovery CD, which restores the notebook to its factory configuration should something catastrophic happen. Supplied utilities include Sony Notebook setup, which provides simple configuration facilities, PowerPanel for adjusting power management settings, and MediaBar, a media player application that also allows you to create MiniDisc playlists.
Much of the remainder of Sony's software bundle is aimed at digital video editing. A video capture package, DVGate, and an editing package called MovieShaker allow you to work with footage shot on a digital video camera, providing it supports IEEE 1394. VisualFlow, the Memory Stick browser, is also supplied even though this notebook doesn't have a Memory Stick slot.
The VAIO PCG-QR10 is decidedly average in terms of specification and performance, but its design may have some appeal. However, the price really should be under £1,000 (inc. VAT) if it's going to appeal to students.