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First Take: Sony Vaio VGN-TX17

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Sony Vaio VGN-TX17

Ultraportables don't get much lighter than Sony's 1.2kg TX17. Although diminutive in size, the 11-inch Vaio has a built-in DVD burner, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Upside: Weighing a mere 1.24kg, the TX17 is one of the lightest ultraportable notebooks that will be on shelves -- and in a few briefcases -- this Christmas. It measures a teensy 272.4 x 28.5 x 195.1mm and its case is composed of lightweight carbon fibre materials, which Sony tells us is also used in aircraft and Formula One race cars.

Under its hood is an ultra low voltage 1.2GHZ Pentium M, 512MB of memory (upgradable to 1.5GB), a 60GB hard disk drive and a built-in multi-format DVD burner that supports 8.5GB double layer discs.

For connectivity, there is integrated wireless, a 56K modem, an Ethernet jack and Bluetooth on board. Above the metallic grey keyboard, Sony includes an Instant A/V button that bypasses the Windows XP operating system and loads the Vaio straight into audio video mode -- going from completely off to playing a DVD in a couple of seconds.

Sony claims the TX17 has an impressive nine hours of battery life with the standard battery, with the extended battery providing a staggering 14.5 hours.

Downside: While the compact size of the TX17 is a boon for travellers, the 11-inch WXGA (1366 x 766) LCD might be too small for prolonged use everyday. A gripe we had with its predecessor, the Vaio T27, was the cramped keyboard, but it seems Sony has increased the width to aid ergonomics on the upgraded model. However, we'll have to wait until we receive a review unit to fully test this.

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Outlook: Coming in either a platinum white or a sleek sapphire black case, the TX17 is expected to arrive in Australia by late October with a recommended retail price of AU$3,799. The high price point will put it out of the reach of most students, but business travellers looking for an ultralight laptop should be drawn to the TX17's extensive battery life and compact dimensions.