The number of interfaces is average and the positioning to some extent favorable. There are 3 USB connections, one is on the left narrow side and the others are on the back. Most other connections are on the back. On the right side only the DVD drive assembly is worth mentioning. The connections on the back (e.g. network -, monitor -, video exit) are protected by a cover plate.
If you do not need to change DVD frequently, right-handers, which want to use the mouse, do not have a problem with disturbing cables. Also left-handers can use the rear USBs instead of the USB on the left side. So this side is free for a mouse.
The distances between the individual connections amount to at least 5 mm, so that plugs should not obstruct each other.
At the cover of the DVD drive assembly there is a tiny button (1mm diameter), which opens the drive assembly. This button is unusually tiny. At left side of the drive assembly there is a bigger button with a symbol, which I interpreted as DVD opener. However up to now still nobody could find out, for which this button serves.
The PC Card mechanism functioned without troubles, the ejection pin did not block.
The colors of the laptop case are traditional silver metallic (e.g. cover, lower surface) and black (e.g. hinges, keyboard). Regarding size and weight the VGN A417M rather is a desktop replacement and only moderately transportable.
The tested Notebook exhibited only a light scratch on the cover. After a usage period of 2 months that is quite harmless. I remember there some model devices in stores, which were covered with several scratches. To a large extent the surface of the A417M can be called scratch-proof.
When I pressed and pushed the case, I constantly heard crunching noise. Nevertheless the case is rigid and twisting stable and resists buckling. However compared with the so far tested Sony Vaio VGN-FS215M and Sony Vaio PCG K315Z the workmanship does not seem to be as good. The FS215M did not produce any crunching noises.
The case gap dimensions are even and under 1 mm, only at the edge of the keyboard there is a broader groove, where dirt could accumulate and penetrate in the equipment.
There are no sharp edges, at which one could hurt oneself or tear the clothes, even the Accu opening is harmless.
On the front narrow side there are a few small special lights like WLAN and operating status light.
The accu is inserted in the lower surface and fixed by sliding controls. It disappears completely in the case. The accu measures 15x7x2 cm, so it is quite small.
On smooth surface the A417M is situated stably without chutes or trembling.
Equipment Data Sheet
Prozessor: Intel Pentium M Prozessor 750 with 1.86 GHz
RAM:, 1024 MB (max. 1024), DDR-SDRAM with 400 MHz
Display: 15.4" X-black LCD with 1.440 x 900 WXGA resolution
Hard disc: 100 GB
Optical drive: Double Layer DVD±RW 24/24/8/6/4/2.4
Video Card: ATI Mobility Radeon X600 with 256 MB HyperMemory
Network: Ethernet Network-type, WLAN 802.11b/g, Bluetooth
Interfaces: i.LINK (IEEE 1394), RJ-11, RJ-45, 3x USB2.0, VGA, PCMCIA-Card, AV-Slot, microphone, headset, memory stick slot, included extern stereo-speakers, docking station (VGA, 4 x USB Typ A, netwerk, parallel, DVI-D, audio-in and audio-out, S-video-, Video- and optical digital-out), V92/V.90, wireless LAN-antenna
Weight: 3.9 kg
Modem: 1x K56Flex
Accu: 108 Min. durability
Input devices: Touchpad, wireless optical mouse with standbye-switch
Software: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition SP2
Accessories: remote maintenance
Short Test Reference
Differently than with our full reviews we could not test the laptop A417M with test instruments for weeks, but only briefly examine the laptop at the office and participate with the experiences of the users. As is the case for all short tests workmanship and equipment are particularly the focus of attention.
Short Review Sony Vaio VGN A417M
Getting informations for the Sony Vaio VGN A417M we could learn from user experiences, who used the equipment 2 months in an Austrian enterprise. In this time the Notebook with its Pentium M processor 750 with 1.86 GHz, 15,4"x-black LC display and ATI Mobility Radeon X600 had to be repaired promptly because of 2 different damages. By the way the most extensive photo material of all short tests is attached.
The general impression of the Sony Vaio VGN A417M compared with the other tested models is good, but not outstanding. That display, the strength of Sony
Notebooks, is presupposed good, if one likes shining but however reflecting TFTs. The performance is sufficient for office applications. The workmanship is
on the average, though it is the worst of the Sony Vaios we have tested up to now. The accessory equipment is to mentioned positively. The interface and
ventilator arrangements are favourably positioned.
|display-quality of image||reflecions of display|
|positions of interfaces||frequency of damages|
|accessories (mouse, small power supply)|
The used processor is a Pentium M 750 with 1.86 GHz. Compared with other common prozessors it is very fast per megahertz and does not need much energy (see the comparison of laptop processors).
The used video card is a ATI MOBILITY RADEON X600. It uses 4 pixels -, 2 Vertexpipelines and has 128 bit. It is a Mobility Radeon 9700 with PCIe, PowerPlay 5,0 and VPU Recover II. Benchmarks are approximately 10000/3000 3DMark 01/03. In our comparison of mobile grafic cards the X600 ranks in the performance class 3 and thus performance-related behind Acer Extensa 4102 WLMi, Toshiba Satellite A80 - 142 and Asus Z9252V. Therefore playing the newest games is not recommend.
Experiences of the users
When the notebook was purchased by the company, praises were heard. The design pleased the main user, the image quality and the mouse too.
But after approximately 1 month, in which the equipment had not been used excessively, the A417M had to be repaired. The DVD drive assembly could not read DVDs any more and also the accu had to be exchanged. Afterwards the technical department of the company was not pleased by the Sony equipment. At least the damages were repaired sufficiently within a few weeks.
The users were not pleased because the equipment with an empty accu switched off without any preliminary warning. The hibernation functioned, so no data were lost.
The power pack measures 15x6x3 cm, is light-weight dimensioned and well transportable. The provided wireless optical mouse is to be mentioned positively, and can be deactivated by a specific switch. That preserves the battery in the mouse.
Most notebooks somewhere blow out hot air. The Vaio VGN A417M has a small rectangular ventilator opening on the rear side. At that location the hot
exhausted air probably disturbs few users.
The openings for sucking air at the lower surface of the equipment. The majority of the Notebooks do it like that. The disadvantages are that the laptops overheat on soft surface and a usage on the thighs causes an unpleasent hot feeling. At least air is not blown out below.
Behind the keyboard the VGN A417M becomes hot. Using the keyboard someone can get easily warmed up hands. However the keyboard does not feel very hot.
By the way the ventilator constantly runs, but it is not audible, even when I directed my ears to the laptop. Nevertheless the background noise of the office covered all sounds of the VGN A417M.
The loudspeakers supply an acceptable sound.
The gap between case and display is even. Damage by slim things may be caused, which penetrate between closed screen and keyboard surface.
The symmetrical hinges are stably (2 pins, which are embodied on both sides in each case). The resistance of the closing mechanism is firm, yet the open screen a trembles slightly. With movement of the TFT clear and constant crunching can be heard. The closing mechanism functions complainless. Similar as with the other two tested Sony laptops (VGN FS215M and PCG K315Z) the advantage lies in the image quality.
The strong reflection effects of the shining display are common to all 3 models. The image looks bright and clear, but one recognizes each fluorescent tube, which illuminates from above. With extreme horizontal viewing angles as with all Sonys there is no cause for the criticism. The vertical view from above is also good. However the picture gets rapidly darker viewing from below. Fortunately this is a rare view.
Pixel errors does not exist as with all laptops tested so far.
The keyboard bends moderately with rough pressure. Its size amounts to 30x11 cm (an average size) and also the gaps between the keys are normal and regular.
The arrangement of the keys offers few surprises and adheres usually to the usual standards.
The command keys are positioned on the left and on the right end of the lowest row, where the majority of the users will look for.
As with most laptops there does not exist an own numeric block. The arrow keys (often used by players) are unfortunately not separated from the remainder of the keyboard and the frequently used enter key is encircled because of page keys on the right side. Wrong clicks can be the consequence. By the way there is no key for internet or email.
The Touchpad is slightly transferred to the left side in front of the keyboard and has a finger surface of 7,5 x 4 cm. Beneath there are 2 very long touchpad keys, however no own scroll key. Both keys are very stable.