Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sony Vaio VGN-FE660G Notebook PC

While hard-core gamers might not be totally satisfied, most road warriors and power users will find more than enough reasons to upgrade to this latest entrant to the Sony Vaio mobile computing line.

Look and Feel
This Vaio looks the same as its relatives in the FE series family. It measures 14.4 x 1.4 x 10.8 inches and weighs a fairly standard 6.2 pounds with the lithium-ion battery installed. The battery will run from anywhere between 2.5 and 5.5 hours, depending on your settings.

The 15.4-inch widescreen LCD gives this model more of a big-screen look without impeding its portability. Typical of the Vaio notebook line, the buttons and accessory ports are neatly dispersed around the clamshell to create an attractive and efficient design. The standard 86-key keyboard has a comfortable feel.


The FE660G has a 100-GB SATA hard drive that spins at 5,400 rpm, giving it acceptable speed for accessing data and loading programs. By comparison, the hard drives in faster notebooks and most desktop PCs will spin at 7,200 rpm.

But Sony packed the FE660G with 1 GB of fast DDR2 memory, which is expandable to 2 GB, and 128 MB of video memory. You can see why this notebook gives a snappy response.

Although the FE660G lacks LightScribe optical technology, it comes with a multiformat drive that can read and write both DVD+R and DVD-R discs. This type of drive can also handle the latest dual-layer DVD+R discs that are capable of storing up to 8.5 GB of data.

Sony is following the trend of not including any parallel or serial ports, but it has included nearly all the features we expect in a multimedia portable. Everything, that is, but a TV tuner. Given that this model runs the latest Windows XP Media Center 2005 operating system, the absence of a tuner might turn prospective buyers away.


The FE660G is powered by the Intel Core Duo T2300 processor, one of the newest mobile chips, and it makes this model an unmistakable speed demon. The 1.67-GHz processor speed, superfast 667-MHz front-side bus, and large 2-MB L2 cache provide plenty of multitasking power.

We were equally impressed with the 15.4-inch widescreen LCD and its 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution. The display not only provides fantastic color, but also delivers a bright screen in direct sunlight.

Video is powered by the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 and Intel's Dynamic Video Memory Technology, which produce very pleasing images for moderate game-playing and movie-watching. While the integrated sound card won't win many accolades from audio fanatics, the overall effect is satisfying.

The Verdict
More-than-adequate processing power, along with generous memory and storage, make the Sony Vaio VGN-FE660G a good choice for an all-around, multimedia-friendly notebook.

Sony Vaio VGN-FE660G Notebook

Specs: 1.67-GHz Intel Centrino Core Duo processor T2300; 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi; 1 GB of DDR2 RAM; multiformat, double-layer DVD?RW/CD-RW drive; 15.4-inch widescreen display; 100-GB hard drive; 5-in-1 memory card reader; three USB 2.0 ports; one Firewire port; VGA out; S-Video out; electrostatic touchpad.

Pros: Plenty of RAM; huge storage capacity; lots of video memory; widescreen.

Cons: No TV tuner; few accessory ports; lacks LightScribe optical technology.

Verdict: Slim, lightweight design with state-of-the-art features provides speedy multimedia performance.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Price: $1,249.99

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