Sony VAIO X505 First Thoughts (pics, specs)

by Reads (9,216)

The Sony VAIO X505 is a notebook that seems impossibly thin.  It’s one of those technology devices you figure you would see a concept design and specs for, but would never really come to fruition.  But lo and behold, the super thin-and-light VAIO X505 is real and if you have $3,000 it’s yours. 

Sony VAIO X505 in all it’s thinness and glory (view larger image)

Sony VAIO X505 Specs

  • Processor: 1.1-GHz Intel Ultra Low Voltage Pentium M
  • 512MB DDR SDRAM
  • 20GB hard drive
  • 64MB Intel 855GME graphics
  • 802.11 a/b/g wireless (using card that’s supplied)
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 FireWire port
  • 10.4-inch display
  • 10.2 x .38-.83 x 8.2 inches (width x height x depth)
  • 1.8-pound system wegiht, 2.6-pound travel weight
  • Windows XP Professional

VAIO X505 Design

Sony VAIO X505 Notebook and Paper Notebook (view larger image)

This is the section where anybody who reviews an X505 gloats.  If you know anything about this notebook you know that is the thinnest of the thin-and-lights, it’s the ultimate in providing ease of mobility and travel.  You can put it in your briefcase and not only will it fit as well as any paper notebook, you won’t even notice the extra weight it adds.

The body of the X505 is made of a composite nickel-carbon fiber.  It gives the system a very rigid and sturdy feel, the material is cold to the touch so it looks and feels like metal.  The dark-grey look is sleek on the outside, and then on the inside there is a graphite type of finish that also looks nice.  But who are we kidding, you’ll be trying to impress onlookers so it’s the outside-facing look that counts.  To add to this cool outer look the power button is incorporated right into the hinge and glows neon green to indicate when power is on.  At first I struggled to find where the power button was on the X505, since with every other laptop I’ve owned it’s placed on the keyboard somewhere.  The hinge location just goes to show that Sony engineers are both innovative and design-aware.

The VAIO X505 battery isn’t too much bigger than a pen!

The screen is 10.4-inches.  It’s the same size as any other ultraportable notebooks screen, such as the Sony VAIO TR series, Fujitsu P7000 series or IBM ThinkPad X40 series.  The Sony X-Brite technology gives the screen superb brightness and it is crisp and clear.  It is an XGA screen, I’m not a fan of small screens with a relatively low resolution (I prefer SXGA or UXGA, so to me XGA is “low-resolution”) so I struggled with being able to fit enough on the screen to satisfy my viewing pleasure.  But that’s of course the trade off with an ultraportable notebook, you get a really small and really light computer but lose screen size and other features.

Top View of the Sony VAIO X505 with memory-card reader PC card and VGA dongle by its side (view larger image)

VAIO X505 Keyboard and Input

The keyboard is somewhat tough to use on the VAIO.  It’s 90% full-size so you have to scale down the amount your fingers are used to travelling.  This is the same for any ultraportable notebook though.  You might actually look at the surface area on the keyboard and think, why didn’t they extend the keys up a little for all that space that’s not used between the keys and the screen?  Well, the answer to that is the hard drive, processor and motheboard are all housed just above the keyboard, there’s no room for anything else up there!  The Sony design innovators pushed all of the internal components back above the keyboard to allow for the thin design.

Sony included a pointing stick instead of a touchpad, obviously to save on space.  I love using a pointing-stick over a touch pad, so for me this was a big plus.  The pointing stick is small, nothing like the nice sized one I have on my ThinkPad T40, but it is responsive and works well for moving the pointer around the screen so no huge complaints.

At the base of the keyboard are your standard mouse buttons for performing normal right-click and left-click actions.

VAIO X505 Features

The VAIO X505 does not have internal wireless, but Sony does provide you with a wireless card (802.11 a/b/g) that is easy to slot into the one available Type II PC card slot that resides on the right-side of the X505.  Sony also provides a Type II PC card slot memory card reader this provides the ability to read Secure Digital, Compact Flash and of course Memory Stick cards.

The included FireWire port and Two USB 2.0 ports allows you to add devices to the X505 that are missing.  The missing devices I refer to is that being any type of optical drive.  If you want to load software onto the VAIO X505 you’ll have to network it and get the install from another machine, download the install program, or splurge and buy an external DVD/CD optical drive that attaches via a USB connection.

VAIO X505 Recommendation

This is not a full review, I’ll have that in the coming week with a more detailed overview of this notebook.  But to get to the point, do I recommend that anybody spend $3,000 for this notebook and is it practical?  Well, honestly the answer to that is no.  You absolutely have to be a geek and somebody in love with technology gadgets and innovative products to need this notebook.  It would also never make sense to buy unless you need the ultimate in portability for travelling.  And furthermore, you could get the Sony VAIO TR5 for the exact same cost as the X505 and it has built-in wireless, a built-in DVD Burner, built-in camera and 1GB of RAM and weighs just under 1-lb more — although granted the TR5 is much thicker than the X505.  I’ll struggle to find a practical reason to buy the X505 in my full review, but for some things in life you don’t need to justify everything and you might just want it because there’s $3000 burning a hole in your pocket (if you’re so lucky) and you’re a sucker for design and technology.

Sony VAIO X505 Pricing and Availability

The VAIO X505 is available worldwide and specifically in the U.S. from SonyStyle.com for $2,999.99.

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