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Goodbye Sony VAIO T, Hello VAIO TX Part 1

VGA Output

The VGA output from the Vaio VGN-TX1XP uses the plain-vanilla Intel graphics chipset. Built around the Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 900 graphics subsystem, the driver supports steady, flicker-free image display on an external monitor at resolutions of up to 1600x1200 pixels.

Intel's GMA900 graphics driver.

While it is nearly exclusively price that drives buying decisions in the consumer market, service and support capabilities count as among the most important elements when choosing new systems for business use. Sony customers have the option of simply extending their warranties or buying an extended support and repair service contract. This latter offering is intended to provide system service or replacement within one working day of the issuing of a trouble ticket.

Testing this kind of service is difficult and well outside the scope of this story, of course - good, fast service depends on so many different parameters and conditions. That said, we did test the update functions of the system and its online support capabilities. To enable automatic driver updates to occur, we had to install a small software tool on our system, which is designed to make sure we always had the latest drivers and updates at our disposal.

The Vaio update manager informs users automatically about the availability of new drivers and updates.

The operation of this utility is simple and straightforward: the system checks with a Sony server to see if any updates are available for the laptop. Whenever one or more updates are found, a status message informs the user, who chooses to download or decline the update with the push of a single button. At least, that's how it works in theory... Our test produced an error message from the Vaio Update Manager, informing us that the support Web site was unreachable, and that we should try again later. One week later, we tried again, but remained unsuccessful in our attempts to use this tool.

Real drivers are supposed to arrive at the push of a button...

... but we could never access the support site during our testing.

Our attempts to download update files manually only led to more frustration. Though the files were quick and easy to find on the server, the data transfer rate was miserably slow. The best we could manage was a paltry 24 kBps over the wire.

The best download speed we could muster for drivers was 24 kBps.

To make sure this wasn't just a temporary glitch on the server side, we tried downloads at different times of the day for several consecutive days. These results never improved significantly at any time.

Some of the driver and tool downloads are as big as 240 MB.

As a result of the slow speed and the large size of the files, some driver downloads took as long as three hours to complete. This is completely unacceptable even for consumers, much less in a business environment!