Last week we took a look at the Sony Vaio VGN-N38E/W laptop. This week we are taking a look at its older brother, the Sony Vaio VGN-N31M/W. This core 2 duo T5300 based system with 1GB of ram and 120GB of hard drive space has upon initial looks great specs for a really good price (£549.99). It comes with all the standards, 802.11gb wifi, Vista Home Premium, a 15.4″ TFT display etc. But how does the Sony Vaio VGN N31M/W do in a review? We find out!
It has a T5300 Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, which runs at 1.73 GHz. With that and its 1GB (2x512MB) of 533MHz DDR2 ram it is more than enough for general work and web use.
The VGNN31M/W has a 120gb sata hard disk drive, and runs at 5400 rpm (the standard for budget laptops). The only optical drive on this laptop is a DVD +- RW (which can write DVDs upto 8x speed).
The WXGA 15.4 inch display is of very high quality, and runs at 1280×800 (which is standard for this size display). There is a nice range of colour and contrast, and minimal bleeding. There is also a VGA connector for using an additional monitor with the laptop.
Like most sub £1000 laptops, the graphics card isn’t too great. While the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphics card will obviously fly through normal web/office use, when it comes to gaming it isn’t ideal. However, combined with the powerful processor, it is fine for slightly old games. You certainly won’t be playing Bioshock in full resolution here – but The Sims 2, Rollercoaster Tycoon (both firm laptop favourites) are fine.
Like most Sony laptops this Vaio VGN N31M/W comes with a memory slot supporting the sony Memory Stick variants and SD cards. There are only a total of two USB ports, which is pretty low, however USB hubs are very cheap if you need more than 2 ports. I personally find that although I do on my desktop, on my laptop I don’t tend to use many USB devices.
In terms of connectivity, the Sony Vaio VGN N31M/W laptop has everything you should need – a 56k modem (they really should be phasing these out now!), integrated 802.11b/802.11g wireless LAN and 100 base-tx/10 base-t ethernet ports. It would have been nice if they had also included blue tooth connectivity.
When you get this laptop out of the box the first thing you notice is just how sexy the Vaio VGN N31M/W looks. It really is upto the standards of the Apple Macbooks. I think it is quite clear that the designers at Sony took a fair bit of inspiration from Apple in the design of this laptop – but that isn’t a bad thing.
The keys on the laptop are very nice to use and require minimal effort from your fingers to type. The touchpad is very responsive, and like the touch pad on the Sony Vaio VGN-N38E/W, is one of the best that I have come across. It seems to move the cursor more like you want it to rather than some touchpads I’ve used on Dell’s and Acer’s.
Once turning it on for the first time and getting through the initial basic and straightforward setup you will notice how Sony have bundled several useless programs. All laptop manufacturers do this, and I really wish they wouldn’t. It includes Google Picasa, Norton Internet Security 2007, VAIO Recovery Utility 2.6, Microsoft Office 2007 Trial, Microsoft Works 8.5, Skype and some more. While they may be handy for some users, I personally only like to install what I use – so they all got removed straight away. Part of Sony’s VAIO software includes some networking software that replaces the default networking parts of Vista, however once removed the Vista parts come back into play (both work fine, though).
Overall in this review of the Sony Vaio VGN N31MW I more than happy with this laptop. Of course however you pay a little more just for the Sony name, but then you know it is made of quality parts. Overall rating: 8.8/10.
Prices: (Check out each one as their prices may have changed)
I got it from Play.com, which sells it for £549.99 delivered (inc vat)