Makers of ultraportables are in a perpetual race to pack more into an ever-shrinking space. The Sony VAIO VGN-SZ370P is a classic case of Miniaturization meeting power, as it loads a high-performance processor and discrete graphics (plus a dual-layer DVD drive) into its 3.8-pound frame.
Performance-wise the SZ370P is strong. It runs a standard-voltage, 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 and comes with 2GB of RAM. The SZ37OP’s 13.3-inch XBrite screen is about an inch larger than that of most ultraportables, and its optical drive can burn up to 8.5 GB of data onto a dual-Layer disc.
The SZ370 includes a clever solution to the "speed versus battery life" dilemma that laptop makers-and buyer-face. It delivers both, though only one at a time. Sony loaded two different graphics chipsets, nVidia’s GeForce Go 7400 discrete card and Intel’s integrated GMA 950 graphics, into the SZ370P. A switch labeled "speed" and “stamina" lets you choose which chipset to run. (A downside is that you’ll need to reboot after each setting change.) Punching "speed” runs the nVidia card for smoother and faster3D transitions in gaming, in viewing high definition videos, and in AutoCAD work. It also pulls the battery life down to 1 hour 53 minutes. Hit “stamina” you lose some performance, but the battery lasts much longer (2:43 on our DVD rundown test). The standard battery is 58 Wh; you can buy an 87-Wh battery for $299.
The carbon fiber material surrounding the frame feels a bit hollow and isn't as tough as the metals found on the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 (Vista) or the Panasonic Toughbook CF-W5. I don't like the mushy keyboard, either. Despite these nits, the SZ370, s combination of light weight, power, and that built-in DVD burner makes it a must-consider if you're shopping for an ultraportable.
Sony VAIO VGN- SZ370P: $2,080