The ultra portable notebook segment is as different a beast as the desktop replacement notebook. While most notebooks choose the middle route by balancing performance with the eternal issue of weight and size, the thin and light notebooks go for portability above all, meaning superfluous devices like optical devices are the among the first to go. Screens are smaller, processors are geared to conserve battery life and 3D games are not in their vocabulary. In fact, these notebooks battle it out over battery life rather than performance ratings. It is in this context that we should approach the Sony VAIO VGN-TX37GP.
First, its performance, while creditable for its class, will almost certainly lose to less expensive mainstream consumer notebooks in the market. Having an Ultra Low Voltage Core Solo processor in a market filled with Core Duo notebooks is not exactly for the performance. However, Sony did provide a decent amount of memory and while the graphics is the minimal and generic Intel 'Graphics Accelerator', at least the instant-on multimedia feature makes the VGN-TX37GP useful for entertainment purposes. There are still drawbacks in this respect though in the form of some LCD backlight bleeding (from certain viewpoints) and the mediocre stereo speakers. The plethora of security features like the fingerprint sensor and security chip gears it for business users, one of the major target groups for this segment.
When it comes to portability, this Sony VAIO is a winner with its seven hours of battery life. Coupled with its petite dimensions, this is one notebook that can last you through a direct long haul flight and that you can actually bring comfortably everywhere you go. If you're looking for a notebook that can open your Adobe Photoshop in less than five seconds, the ultra-portable VGN-TX37GP is the wrong notebook and the wrong category to look in. If you want something that you can actually carry around without overdeveloping your biceps, then this slim Sony VAIO fits the bill. The UMPC may yet offer an alternative for certain users but the presence of a usable keyboard and the bonus of the integrated optical drive in a small and elegant package like the VGN-TX37GP tilts in favor of the traditional notebook form factor.
To carry our Kate Moss analogy to its conclusion, the Sony VAIO VGN-TX37GP is truly ultra portable, impressing us most with its combination of lightness and excellent battery life. Unfortunately, its predictable performance notwithstanding, Sony also intends to charge you supermodel rates. Priced at about US$2377 (about S$3799 locally), it is a hefty premium. But the name of the game is about portability and this VAIO certainly can travel and in style too. Just be prepared to pay.