Sony VAIO VGN-UX50 Ultra-Mobile PC
Sony VAIO VGN-UX50
Verdict: An interesting and well-executed take on the Origami concept, but not without its flaws
Sony’s new Ultra-Mobile PC its just a shame some companies are being more cautious.Sony and are only committed to releasing its UX series in Japan and the US.
The UX50 is based around: Intel Core Solo U1300 CPU, 1.06GHz enough for everyday applications with Intel's GMA 950 integrated graphics card, giving you a smidge of 3D processing power. Included with Windows XP Home, Sony uses its own handwriting recognition and onscreen keyboard applications as well as The Touch Launcher interface for launching tasks.
It packs an Intergrated sliding QWERTY Keyboard with the obligatory Windows Key as well as a trackpoint and two mouse buttons which are all reasonably easy to use considering the size.
The 4.5” display is absolutely fantastic with a wide-aspect TFT's resolution of 1,024 x 600. Unlike many touchscreens it's bright and clear and, if your eyes are up to it, it can fit a whole document, web page or email inbox in one. If not, there are dedicated zoom buttons to scale parts of the screen into clearer view.
All those hardware buttons (as well as a user-configurable one) go a long way to making the UX50 more practical. There's a WLAN switch, and the power slider has a hold position, shutting off the input devices and screen to save power. There's even a dedicated button for the two 1.3-megapixel cameras on board - one on the front and one on the rear of the screen. The accompanying software is fiddly, but they're at least capable of some good results, and fine for video calls or recording a meeting.
Around the chassis, there's a single USB port, CompactFlash/Memory Stick slots and mic in/headphone jacks, as well as a swipe-style fingerprint reader above the screen. Two docking options come as standard. The cradle offers 10/100 Ethernet, three USB 2 ports, FireWire and VGA out, while the smaller breakout box has just VGA and 10/100 Ethernet. Both also feature an A/V out jack, although no breakout cable is supplied.
There's 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth. US versions of the UX series come with EDGE support, but there's no GPRS or 3G, unless you opt to find a CompactFlash adaptor. It's the same story with GPS: one or more of these properly integrated would significantly enhance the UX50's appeal as a do-it-all mobile device. As it is, it's largely restricted to home and office environments - battery life is very short at 2hrs 37mins too, even under light use. And while the 529g weight isn’t heavy in a bag, it is too big and heavy to be put inside a jacket or small handbag.