The spaciously designed Sony VAIO VGN-FE45G/W notebook offers some powerful features including a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce graphics card and an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. Its battery life isn't all that impressive, but overall this is a nice machine that will work well under a variety of guises.

Gleaming with Windows Vista Home Premium and all its aesthetic perks, the Sony VAIO VGN-FE45G/W ran without any discernable problems during our testing. With an Intel 1.83GHz T5600 CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 100GB (5400rpm) SATA hard drive, Dual Layer DVD re-writer, and an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600 graphics card it will comfortably suit general home and office use, and will even handle a little gaming on the side.

We used CDEX, a free encoding application, to test the CPUs encoding capabilities and were happy with the result. We began with 53 minutes worth of WAV files and converted them into to 192Kbps MP3 files, which the Sony VAIO VGN-FE45G/W was able to do in two minutes and 30 seconds; about what we'd expect given the specifications.

Although Sony has not touted this notebook as a gaming machine the GeForce Go 7600 graphics card will allow it to handle some simple gaming, including some of the more recent gaming titles, albeit at lower quality settings. Its score of 1478 in 3DMark 2006 indicates it can handle newer games, to some degree , but the score of 14047 in 3DMark 2001 SE proves it will run older games extremely well.

We weren't overly impressed by the battery life of this unit. In a worst-case-scenario battery test, where we drain the battery by looping a DVD, this unit managed to stay running for just one hour and 23 minutes. Although the DVD playback uses the optical drive and the speakers, as well as all the other core components, the meagre battery-life of one hour and 23 minutes means you won't even get through an average feature film without a power source. On top of this, the speakers only produced sound at very low volumes, even with everything turned up, so we wouldn't recommend this unit if portable media watching is your primary intent.

The large keyboard and spacious palm rest make the Sony VAIO VGN-FE45G/W both comfortable to use and efficient to type on. The keys have a good action and are nicely spaced. We found it was easy to type quickly and accurately. Meanwhile the 15.4in LCD screen has reasonable brightness and contrast and an excellent viewing angle, making it clear and easy to read from any position. It runs at a resolution of 1280 x 800.

The black bezel surrounding the LCD houses a MOTION EYE camera (640 x 480 pixels) for capturing images and video, and is accompanied by a microphone. Adding photos from a digital media card is facilitated through a Memory Stick Duo port and also a memory card adapter for the express card slot, which is xD, SD and MMC compatible. As well as the Express Card slot there's also a PC card slot, three USB ports, a FireWire port, S-Video and a VGA port. A 10/100 Ethernet connection and a 56k modem allow wired networking, while Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR give this unit some wireless connectivity as well.

Above the keyboard are volume controls and a mute button, as well as two programmable hotkeys and a power button. All the available buttons adhere to a simplistic, smooth design that is pleasantly unobtrusive.

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