Written on: 29/04/2002 by neepheid.
Great screen, done away with PS2 ports, solid performance, battery life not as bad as some suggest, plenty memory
First one had to be sent back, on-board sound quality could be better.
I needed a laptop for work, and I had previous experience of Sony Vaios. In order to convince my boss that this PCG FX501 was the one to go for, I did a comprehensive study of all competitors I could find and found that the FX501 was the best laptop at the price by a mile. You can get a cheaper laptop, but you compromise on screen size, memory or using Windows 98.
The first one I got had the keyboard/touchpad/battery problem, and was sent back. The replacement I got did not have the issue. I have since learned that Sony issued a BIOS update that allegedly addresses this issue. I was not having a problem with the replacement unit, but I've installed it anyway.
The first thing I did when I got down to work was to get rid of all the eye candy and automatic things that go on behind your back under Windows XP. This is not Sony's fault, but perhaps they could offer to do this for you. Apart from the skinning and font smoothing, I have this running pretty much like Windows 2000.
One niggle is that Sony only supply with Windows XP Home. It would have been nice to have the option of Professional.
The screen is wonderful - 14.1", pin sharp and bright. I was happy to see the amount of expansion options - 2 PCMCIA slots, Firewire, 2 USB, TV and VGA out, network and modem built in. Performance is good, well up for everything I ask it to do. Hard drive space is ample at 20Gb without being generous. Having a DVD drive at this price is wonderful.
My gripes would be the onboard sound being of merely adequate quality. The TV-out is composite only, s-video would have been nice and not too difficult to put in, as the video is an ATi solution, well renowned for TV-out solutions. Only supplying Windows XP Home is a little short sighted. The defect on the first one I got was annoying but dealt with swiftly through the retailer.
To sum up, this laptop is probably the best all round value at this price range, having a sensible blend of features, and not many compromises. I would recommend this laptop to anyone looking for a desktop replacement for occasional travelling.