Sony's VGN-NW25GF/S is a handsome devil. The chrome VAIO logo takes centre stage in the middle of the
lid, and the textured finish gives it a dash of class.
The patterned silver finish stretches inside and surrounds each of the white, Scrabble-tile keys, and the attention to detail even stretches to a dimpled trackpad in a quiet, blueish shade.
It's one of the best-looking budget laptops we've seen, but it's also one of the sturdiest. Both the base and the lid resist even the most heavy-handed twisting motions. The sturdiness comes at the expense of portability, though, with the Sony weighing 2.61kg.
The keyboard is superb, and the positive feel of the widely spaced keys puts the Sony up there with the best.
The display is excellent, too. Colour reproduction is impressively neutral, and high brightness allied with good contrast made a great fist of our test photos. Only the average native resolution gives any real room for improvement.
Inside, the 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of DDR2 memory pushed it through the finishing gate with a result of 1.06. It isn't the fastest laptop we've ever seen, but it's enough to keep the 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium feeling responsive.
Turn your attention to lighter pursuits, however, and it soon becomes clear that Sony has had to cut some corners to stay within the budget. Unlike the Dell Studio 15, for example, this VAIO has little gaming power.
The Intel integrated graphics ensured Crysis was too much for it, even at the most modest detail settings, and the built-in speakers robbed music and movie soundtracks of life. The flat, unrefined tone meant the Sony dropped behind the pack.
The Sony may cut a dash visually, but it isn't the perfect all-rounder. Great ergonomics raise it above the pack, but with the VGN-NW25GF/S falls short of the all-rounder mark.