Sony's VGN-S series of notebooks is aimed squarely at those who like to keep their computing tools close at hand no matter where they go. Small enough to tuck away comfortably inside your briefcase alongside your paperwork and so lightweight that it will never seem overly burdensome, this model, the VAIO VGN-S550P/S, is also equipped with amenities traditionally reserved for far bulkier units. Those amenities include a massive 80 GB hard drive, facilities for both DVD and double-layer DVD playing and writing, enough RAM memory to keep your applications running smoothly, and acceptable 3D gaming graphics. Wireless networking/Internet is also part of the package, as is Microsoft's beefy Windows XP Professional Edition operating system. Battery usage stats are only average when compared to other ultra efficient ultra lightweights, but the VAIO VGN-S550P/S is otherwise a top-notch compact notebook and an ideal traveling companion.
At the heart of any computer lies the CPU (or processor), a massive collection of miniature transistors that governs the speed and power of the entire unit. Some of today's notebooks are equipped with high-end CPU's on par with those found in top-of-the-line desktop PCs, while others are quick enough only for basic duties such as word processing, email and the like. The VAIO VGN-S550P/S is equipped with an Intel Pentium M processor 740 running at 1.73 GHz. This is one of three components comprising Intel's efficient Centrino system (the others being a specialized Intel chipset and integrated wireless support). Centrino-equipped notebooks are generally smaller, easier on the batteries, and more versatile than their non-Centrino counterparts. This particular CPU is part of Intel's upgraded Pentium M lineup, featuring a whopping 2 MB of Level 2 cache for extremely fast access to your most utilized information and a quick 533 front side bus. Though it isn't as powerful as a high-end Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon, this CPU will easily handle all common mobile tasks while at the same time keep you on the road longer between charges.
Computers typically store information on their hard drive, but they also keep frequently and recently accessed data in Random Access Memory (RAM) for faster retrieval. More RAM means more efficient computing, superior multitasking and less strain on your hard drive. The VAIO VGN-S550P/S incorporates 512 MB of extremely fast PC2-4200 533 MHz RAM. This is more than enough for most any situation, though ultra demanding users have the option of expanding their RAM to a maximum of 2 GB.
CPU's are usually so busy doing basic calculations that they need help translating visual output to the viewing screen. This is the duty of the graphics card (or graphics controller). Generally, a controller with dedicated video memory is far preferable to one with shared-video memory, wherein the graphics controller appropriates a portion of the main system memory. Nevertheless, many notebooks utilize shared memory controllers to keep the overall cost in check and because of obvious space restrictions. Such is the case with this system, which incorporates an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900. The advantage of this comparatively new controller over other shared memory controllers is twofold--it utilizes more refined components, and it commandeers more of the system's memory (up to 128 MB). Still, though the system will effectively display 2D and the majority of 3D applications and games, it won't satisfy hardcore gamers or demanding 3D graphic artists who need powerful 3D performance.
Many ultra compact notebooks are equipped with diminutive 10- or 12-inch display screens. Not so the VAIO VGN-S550P/S, which features a 13.3-inch widescreen display perfectly suited to watching the Hollywood blockbusters you'll play on the system's DVD-compatible optical drive. This surprisingly generous display also sports Sony's XBRITE Technology for a brighter, more compelling picture, and an impressive maximum resolution of 1280 by 800 for sharp, detailed imaging.
The VAIO VGN-S550P/S features a massive 80 GB hard disk. This level of data storage is not much less than you'll find in some of today's desktops, and is a welcome perk indeed for those who require a smaller notebook but need to operate a broad range of applications and also keep a library of space-gobbling music and/or multimedia files.
This system features a DVD+-R Double Layer/DVD+/-RW drive that'll handle standard blank media.
The VAIO VGN-S550P/S is equipped with two miniature stereo speakers, a mini microphone jack and a stereo mini headphone jack.
Keyboard and Controls: You'll control your notebook via an 82-key keyboard and standard electro-static touch pad.
Connectivity and Expansion:
The VAIO VGN-S550P/S offers a wide variety of ways to keep in touch, including a 56K modem for low-speed dial-up Internet and email access, a 10BASE-T/100BASE-TX Ethernet port for high-speed wired network and Internet, and an integrated Intel PRO/Wireless 2200b/g Network Connection (802.11b/g) for fast cord-free e-communication at either of today's accepted standards, 802.11b and the much faster 802.11g. Other key amenities include two high-speed USB 2.0 ports for plug and play devices such as external drives and digital cameras, an IEEE 1394 FireWire port (commonly used for quick data uploads from digital camcorders), a Memory Stick media slot for reading Memory Stick memory cards, and provisions for a Port Replicator interface (3 USB 2.0, Ethernet, VGA, DVI-D, printer, DC in).
Operating System and Software:
Sony has equipped the unit with an operating system tailored for business users but great for everyone else too, Microsoft's powerful Windows XP Professional Edition. It will also supply a versatile application package that includes Microsoft's Works 8.0 productivity suite, Intuit Quicken 2005 New User Edition financial suite, and a variety of Sony's own top-notch photo, music and video software.
Dimensions and Weight:
The VAIO VGN-S550P/S is very small and therefore very comfortable at just 4.3 lbs (with standard battery) and a mere 12.3 by 8.85 by 1.18-1.39 inches.
The unit is equipped with a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery that delivers 1.5 - 3.0 hours between charges.
Supplied Accessories: Standard Lithium-ion battery (VGP-BPS2), Power cord, AC adapter (VGP-AC19V10)
Sony's VAIO(R) VGN-S550P/S Notebook is the ideal mobile companion designed for your busy lifestyle. The slim, lightweight design makes it an exceptional mobile device for your computing needs at home, in the office or on the road. A powerful processor, ample hard drive and integrated DVD+R Double Layer drive give you the power to create, connect and command your digital world. Watching movies or viewing documents is a delight, with the exceptional 13.3" widescreen display. The durable magnesium casing & incredible lightweight design makes the VAIO(R) S Notebook is the portrait of sleek, contemporary style. Optical Drive with Double Layer support 80 GB Serial ATA(TM) hard drive (5400 rpm) Wireless LAN 2200BG Network Connection (802.11b/g) Integrated V.90 Modem with RJ-11 interface 10BASE-T/100BASE-TX Ethernet with RJ-45 interface Type II/Type I PC Card with CardBus support Memory Stick & Memory Stick(R) PRO media slot Mini microphone jack, Stereo mini headphone jack VGA out w/ Smart Display Sensor graphics interface Built-in stereo speakers Includes 180-day trial for AOL Online Toll-free technical telephone assistance, plus on-line support Interfaces - One 4-pin i.LINK® connector (IEEE 1394), 2 USB 2.0 ports, port replicator connector Battery life - 1.5 - 3 hours Operating System - Windows XP Pro (Service Pack 2) Sony Software - Click to DVD, SonicStage, Image Converter, PSP Transfer, VAIO(R) Media(network file sharing), VAIO(R) Update, VAIO(R) Recovery Wizard, VAIO(R) Support Central Other Software - Adobe Photoshop Elements Starter Edition, InterVideo WinDVD, Quicken 2005 New User Edition, Microsoft Works 8.0, Office 2003 (60-day trial), Roxio DigitalMedia SE, Norton Internet Security, Intermute SpySubtract Size(WxHxD) - 12.3 x 1.16 x 8.85 Weight - 4.3 lb