Sony's VAIO VGN-TT17GNX ultraportable notebook doesn't offer much power for its exorbitant price tag, but it does deliver good portability, great battery life and the ability to play and burn Blu-ray discs.
Under the hood, the Sony VAIO VGN-TT17GNX has a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 CPU, a low voltage and cool-running processor with a thermal design rating of 10W. It also has 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1.8in, 160GB hard drive that runs at 5400rpm, and Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics.
In our benchmarks, the Sony VAIO VGN-TT17GNX performed as expected. It scored 64 in WorldBench. This is three times the average score of Intel Atom-powered netbooks. The laptop recorded times of 2min 11sec and 2min 6sec in the Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, respectively. Netbooks like the HP Mini 1001TU take approximately 8min to complete these tasks, while the Toshiba Tecra R10 took 1min 10sec using a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU.
In the graphics-intensive 3DMark06, the laptop scored 674, indicating poor 3D performance. The Sony VAIO VGN-TT17GNX isn't powerful but it can handle basic office productivity tasks and Web browsing, as well as some multitasking.
The low-voltage CPU helps ensure the Sony VAIO VGN-TT17GNX has a long battery life. In our DVD rundown tests, with screen brightness at maximum, the notebook managed to last 2hr 50min. This is a good result, and battery life can be extended by using a lower brightness setting and conducting non-CPU-intensive tasks.
If you have used a recent Apple Macbook or other recent Sony VAIO notebooks, the VAIO VGN-TT17GNX's keyboard will be familiar. Its 82 keys are raised and separated from each other. The makes the keyboard easier to clean and reasonably comfortable to type on, although the keys do feel a little spongy. As with many ultraportable laptops, the keyboard is quite cramped, making touch typing difficult and tiring.
Unsurprisingly, the touchpad is small, but it's wide enough that navigation doesn't become frustrating. However, the touchpad's buttons curve over the edge of the laptop slightly and your fingers can easily slip off them.
A Blu-Ray burner and D-Sub (VGA) port occupy one side of the notebook. The notebook also has two USB ports, a 4-pin FireWire 400 port, headphone and microphone ports, and an Express Card/34 slot. HDMI and Ethernet ports are placed behind a loosely attached cover.
The notebook has SD and MemoryStick card slots, as well as a switch to enable or disable Wi-Fi. There are volume, mute and eject buttons on the front; a fourth button opens the VAIO Control Center, which lets you adjust power management, display, network and sound settings.
The notebook has an Intel WiFi Link 5100 chipset with 802.11a/b/g and draft-n compatibility over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio spectrums. Bluetooth is also available.
Sony has used a latch-less design for the VAIO VGN-TT17GNX's lid, but it still closes firmly and securely. The thin 11.1in display possesses the same vibrancy that we loved in the less expensive Sony VAIO VGN-TT15GNR. It has a maximum resolution of 1366x768, and the Sony VAIO VGN-TT17GNX can display 720p content with vivid colours and good contrast.
The glossy panel is prone to reflections in well-lit areas. The screen doesn't weigh much, so it wobbles when used on an unstable surface. It also has poor vertical viewing angles.
The Sony VAIO VGN-TT17GNX remains cool during use, with heat dissipated through a single vent on the left side of the notebook. This is angled downwards, forcing small amounts of heat onto your lap during extended use.
The VAIO VGN-TT17GNX notebook can output 1080p content through its HDMI port. When playing Blu-ray movies the picture is clear and crisp, but playback sometimes stutters. We would have liked the laptop to have media playback keys or a remote control.
The Blu-Ray drive can also write to compatible BD media, allowing you to store up to 50GB on a single disc.
There are some understandable compromises made with the Sony VAIO VGN-TT17GNX ultraportable notebook. But for the most part the laptop is quite capable and it's comfortable to use.