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We took two notebooks of the so-called office class for this review. It means such notebooks must ensure comfortable work in office and multimedia applications in the first place. With performance sufficient for such use, the notebooks are also expected to have small dimensions (so that they could be employed for work “in the field”) and, desirably, an elegant exterior.

This definition of the office notebook class is rather vague, and such computers are appealing to many users and are not limited to office use proper.

The two models we took for our today’s tests – Sony VAIO VGN-FS115ZR and HP Compaq nx8220 (for the sake of simplicity hereafter referred to as the Sony VAIO and the HP Compaq) – fit quite well into our definition of an office notebook. They have similar technical characteristics, but differ in their graphics controllers (the VAIO’s NVIDIA GeForce Go 6200 against the Compaq’s ATI Mobility Radeon X600). This makes the comparative testing of these notebooks the more interesting.

Design and Ergonomics

The classic-style exterior of the reviewed notebooks can’t but attract your attention. I think I need to describe each of them at length since their design and ergonomics are quite different.

The Sony VAIO notebook has elegant and exquisite looks. The light-gray case with the manufacturer’s logo and the model’s name in the center of the lid (the letters VAIO made of shining metal) stands out against the majority of unassuming black-and-gray cases so widely available on the notebook market, and thus interests the potential user (and the first impression is the most important, as you know). The Sony VAIO looks compact and small for its rather large LCD matrix (15.4 inches). The rounded corners and the smooth outline create an effect of completeness. The designers have definitely paid attention to every little detail in the exterior of this notebook.

At the top right corner of the top panel, you can see a row of buttons and indicators: a small rectangular Power On/Off button, Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock indicators, and two quick-launch buttons (they disable the sound and switch to the external monitor by default, but you can reprogram them on the S Button tab of the Sony Notebook Setup utility to launch any application you want).

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