Look & Feel
The laptop feels very solid and has a distinctive high quality feel to it. The screen is very rigid and is reassuringly stiff to open. All the buttons have a quality feel to them. My only complaint is the DVD drive which feels a little flimsy, so I will have to be careful with that one.
You have to see it to understand what people are raving about with these X-Black screens. So detailed, crisp, bright, and the screen space is huge. The screen is very evenly lit, not a single dead pixel, and no light leakage that I can notice. DVDs are jaw dropping on this machine. Better than any TV or flat panel display you can get your hands on.
No benchmarks here. Frankly not very interested in benchmarks. Seems plenty quick to me. I would put in at least 1GB of PC2 4200 RAM. The machine comes with only 512MB of the slower PC3200 RAM. I hope to do a clean install with my own copy of XP Pro, but I have heard other users have problems with getting laptop buttons to work when not using the sony recovery disks. The graphics card seems perfectly adequate for everyday stuff. I haven't played any games yet.
There is an amazing amount of Sony crapware installed when you first start it up. I hate having things running in the background, so I uninstalled most of them. Norton may be useful but I don't usually have problems with viruses so I may get rid of it.
Keyboard & trackpad
Well this is my first laptop so I am not used to laptop keyboards, but this feels pretty okay to me. The keys are a little light, but they are on most laptops and I am up to my usual typing speed after only a few hours of use. The trackpad works well, but I have noticed that I tend to doubleclick on stuff by accident on the pad. Perhaps I can disable doubleclicking from the bad and only use the buttons to click.
Heat & Battery life
The laptop gets warm under your left hand, and can get quite hot towards the rear center of the laptop. Althought the latter is actually quite hot, it is on the underside of the laptop so you don't really notice it unless it is on your lap. Keeping the laptop on your bed seems to heat it up even more because you block off some of the fans. I mostly run it off mains power, but the batter seems to run low pretty quickly. I don't think I will get over 2 hours with this thing. Especically with the screen on full brightness.
I got mine for £1499 through a special deal, but don't pay more than £1690 for this laptop. At that price it is a lot of money, but it IS the best 17" laptop out there. Yes the Dell is faster, but would you put up with a grainy, dim, low quality screen. I considered it, but now that I that I have used this one I can see no way back.
The wireless works flawlessly with my home network. Haven't tried the wireless mouse, but it looks pretty cheap and crappy anyway, plus supposedly interferes with WiFi. I wish they had put a USB port on the left side of the laptop for connecting a USB mouse. I had bluetooth working with my phone on a demo laptop in a store, but I haven't yet got it to work with my own laptop. Only a matter of time I expect.
That's about it so far.
Has anyone managed to do a clean install of a Microsoft copy of Windows XP? I can't find any complete accounts of this being done successfully, just a lot of unsolved problems.