There is a first group of system indicators right under the word VAIO on the screen bezel. They are designed as notches with labels (you can’t see the labels when the lid is down, but the indicators themselves always remain visible). This group includes (from right to left):
- Power indicator (alight when the computer is turned on; blinking when in standby mode; off when the notebook is turned off or in sleep mode)
- Battery charge indicator (alight when the notebook works on its battery; blinking when the battery is almost depleted; blinking in a series of two flashes when the battery is being recharged)
- HDD activity indicator
- WLAN indicator (alight when the notebook’s WLAN interface is active)
- Bluetooth indicator (alight when the WLAN switch is set at the On position and the Bluetooth interface is active)
There is an oval panel in between the first group of indicators and the keyboard. The following buttons are placed within it:
- S1 and S2 buttons (by default, the S1 button turns the sound on and off; the S2 button reduces the CPU speed and the noise from the fans; the buttons can be assigned other functions in the VAIO Control Center)
- Performance mode selector:
- In the Stamina mode the integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics core is used to save power
- In the Speed mode the discrete Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 graphics controller is used to ensure high performance
- Wireless interface switch
- Turn On/Off button
The current status is displayed by one of the indicators located on both sides of the performance mode selector.
And right below this oval panel there is a second group of indicators:
- Num Lock
- Caps Lock
- Scroll Lock
Two stereo speakers are located on both sides of the second group of indicators under the screen hinges. These are typical notebook’s speakers with a rather low maximum loudness.
The touchpads of the two notebooks are different but are placed in the same location – under the keyboard, a little to the left. What’s rather unusual for Sony’s products, the two touchpad buttons are the same width as the slightly sunken sensitive panel. The VAIO VGN-SZ1XRP/C also features a small fingerprint scanner which is in between the two buttons. This original innovation saves you the trouble of memorizing one more password your memory may already be overloaded with. And unlike with a password, your fingerprint is unique and cannot be “cracked” or forgotten. So, fingerprint scanning is an ideal method to secure your notebook against unauthorized access. It may also be used for Internet access (this feature is already supposed by certain ISPs).
There is no additional scrolling joystick and no scrolling zone here.
The keyboards of the notebooks are identical and have 86 keys painted black. The Enter key is smaller than the classic L shape, which is not very convenient. The block of arrows is on the same level with the keyboard’s baseline, so there’s a bigger risk of your pressing them unintentionally. The Fn key is conveniently placed the second button in the bottom row, to the right of Ctrl: people who often use shortcuts like “Ctrl+C” and “Ctrl+V” won’t hit the wrong button. There are also numerical keys and two Windows-related keys here: the Context Menu button is over the Alt key to the right of the spacebar. The Windows key is over the left Alt. The functional keys have a reduced size. Home, PgUp, PgDn and End are placed in a vertical column on the right. Num Lock, Print Screen, Insert and Delete are located in the same row with the functional keys. The letters are painted black; the functional keys are gray (press and hold Fn to use their additional functions); the numeric keys and the Num Lock button are painted dark red.
The SZ series succeeding to the S series, the VAIO VGN-SZ1HRP/B and the VAIO VGN-SZ1XRP/C notebooks are equipped with widescreen displays, just like their predecessors. The 13.3” matrix has a max resolution of 1280x800 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10 (WXGA). To my subjective eye, the viewing angles of the displays are wide enough both horizontally and vertically. The matrix is manufactured using Sony X-BLACK LCD technology which improves image brightness, contrast and saturation. The wideness of the display allows having several application windows open and visible at the same time, which may help you improve your work efficiency. The displays of both notebooks are “glassy”, so you should take care about proper lighting when you sit down to work unless you want to see the objects behind you reflect in the screen.