Summary And Conclusions
The Sony really impressed us with its combination of features and functions, including its Blu-ray player, and its reasonable price. That is, except for the god-awful control buttons built into the front edge of the keyboard deck. If you buy one of these puppies, spring for and use a wireless mouse and disable the touchpad and its controls. We like the Logitech V450 Laser Cordless mouse because it lets you tuck the USB 2.4 GHz wireless dongle inside the housing when it’s not in use (and that action also turns the mouse off, conserving battery life enormously). You can get one for around $40 without too much shopping around. Do so if you glom onto the Sony VAIO VGN-AR630E.
In terms of portability, value and usability, the MSI PR200 is more impressive than its benchmark results probably suggest. After a month of working with the machine - during which time we even took it on the road - we even got a little bit attached to it. Students or younger professionals who have to temper their hardware lust with budgetary limits will find a lot to like about this machine, whose overall performance is more than adequate for most workaday tasks, and completely acceptable for viewing conventional DVDs.
The Qosmio F45 is smaller and somewhat less-impressive than its bigger, more powerful-predecessors. But it continues to benefit from Toshiba’s developing understanding of what makes a good and workable media notebook. Our only beefs with the machine are its somewhat wonky color scheme and its somewhat lackluster ability to play back high-def video (except, of course, when attached to a capable HDTV, where this unit’s surprising lack of an HDMI connector jars our sensibilities yet again). Nevertheless, it’s also a good value for the money, and offers surprisingly good performance and decent battery life.