notebook is one of the most striking on the market, sporting Sony's trademark
design. The Sony PCG-X Series are very fully featured and could easily
be desktop replacements. This 500 MHz Pentium III model comes with 128
MB RAM and a giant 18 GB hard disk. Unfortunately, in my machine, the
hard disk packed up after a year (it was replaced under extended warranty
costing £150 for three years)! Apart from this minor mishap, this is a
fine machine for music making and mixing. It has an additional docking
station (which is included in the price) which has two USB outputs and
an optical digital output, great for recording onto minidiscs. Also notable
is the IEEE1394 port for connecting a high performance firewire CD-RW
or other such products. For output of DVDs you get S-Video output too.
The optical digital out lets you bypass the computer's A-D converter and
instead use the one on your amplifier or other music equipment. The analog
output is fine for causal monitoring (certainly better than most notebooks),
but I would not recommend using it for precise mastering.
performance of this machine is reasonable and you can play several tracks
of audio in Wavelab on it at once, and rip tracks from the DVD/CD drive
(a DVD/CD-RW drive is also available). It is also fast enough to edit
video, which can be captured (and put back) onto a suitable video camera
with digital IEEE1394 In/Out. Most laptops cannot cope with video editing,
even if they have an IEEE1394 port. The screen is excellent and very bright,
although to conserve battery life, you can dim the screen. To protect
it from scratches it has a plastic screen which can be replaced. The software
bundle is impressive with Adobe Premiere LE and a host of other utilities,
although nothing for the musician here. It is very easy to setup and manage,
for example there is a powerful battery setting programme. This power
management programme is excellent allowing you to specify various settings.
You can choose to have a "Performance" setting or a "Quiet"
setting, or choose to turn on or off the docking station fan. I know of
no other computer which has such impressive power management. It certainly
goes beyond Windows power management options. Even after a year of using
this machine, I can still squeeze about two hours out of the standard
Lithium Ion battery.
main problem with this machine (apart from the hard disk which broke)
is it's price which is excessive. You can buy many cheaper machines which
are faster. Sure it does have an optical out, but this can easily be bought
as USB soundcard costing £150. If you are not paying for the machine though
and your company is, there are hardly any other machines better than this.