Sony VAIO PCG-SRX41P – Review


I first saw this Ultra-Compact laptop on the net, I had no idea just how compact the machine actually was as you do not get a good idea of it from a picture, something I hope to have rectified with some of the photos I've taken here…

The machine is basically an ultra compact laptop and is legacy free, the main points are:


  • Intel Pentium III 800MHz Low Voltage SpeedStep
  • 512K Level 2 Cache integrated to CPU
  • Intel 815EM Chipset
  • 256Mb RAM
  • 30Gb Ultra ATA HDD
  • CDROM (via dongle to PCMCIA)
  • Windows XP Pro (pre-loaded)
  • 10.4" XGA TFT Screen
  • 87 Key QWERTY Keyboard
  • Touchpad with scroll
  • Integrated Wireless LAN (Orinoco Wi-Fi, 802.11)
  • Integrated Bluetooth
  • Built-In 56K modem V90 K56 Flex
  • Magic Gate, for Sony Memory Stick
  • Integrated 10/100 LAN (Wired)
  • VGA out, via Sony dongle (included)
  • 1 X USB Port
  • Microphone in and sound out
  • 1 X CF Type II slot
  • Integrated iLink IEE1394



When I went to collect it from Robert Whyte Ltd, the box was brought out and I immediately thought "no way"! I couldn't believe that a laptop could come in such a small package and, on opening the box, I was very impressed with the size of the actual machine. It's footprint is actually less than a sheet of A4 paper and the build quality, as you would expect from Sony, is outstanding, it feels well designed and built. Then for the better part of £2000 you would kind of hope that it would be good!

On the front leading edge there is two buttons; one is a slide release, which is black, and the other is a silver power switch, the two could easily be confused unless you look rather than operate them by touch until you are familiar with the machine.



Turn it on and booting takes about a minute to fully ready to go, shutting down is about thirty seconds which I was pretty pleased with. Booting up you realise that Sony have taken a leaf from the car manufacturers dashboards of late and the LED's are all hidden behind the black casing until active when they become visible, not important but a nice touch. The lid hinges up and over the battery at the back allowing the screen drop behind the battery making the machine look more formed with no obvious huge hinge.

In these days of ultra fast processors and desktop power that most users will never use it's actually refreshing to see that Sony can "make do" with a mere 800Mhz CPU in such an upmarket laptop and it's a clever piece of engineering as well. The CPU features Intel's SpeedStep technology for mobile Pentium 3 processors, what this means is that if the CPU is not being loaded to use applications the speed falls back to 500Mhz thereby saving power, very clever. Given that, as a general rule, this is a mobile office tool and not a graphics workstation 800Mhz is more than enough power and that in many cases 500Mhz is actually sufficient. It certainly is for my use of the machine which is email, word processing and other menial office tasks away from my desk.

Running up Word or Outlook takes about the same time I expect from my 1.2Ghz Athlon desktop, it can't compete with my 1900+ Athlon but I wouldn't expect it too! But all in all it really is a very quick little setup and it does run under XP beautifully.



I have seen criticism of the display and of the keyboard and on both counts I find them perfectly acceptable, yes the keyboard is smaller than a desktop one and feels a little cramped until you adjust to it but I find it fine to use barring the odd typo. The screen is perfectly adequate and on a par with most other laptops I've used and, at 1024*768 I think it looks fine and perfectly clear.



The battery life for such a small package is phenomenal, easily three hours and if all the power saving techniques are used the battery reports a 4.15 hour life! Never have I seen this kind of life in a laptop and certainly not in an ultra portable. That battery life can be extended to almost double that by way of a larger battery but it's not for the faint hearted…£300 which, in my opinion, is a stupidly high price for any battery!

The rest of it is fairly standard fare that anyone familiar with a PC will understand with no problems at all.

Look Ma…no wires!

Okay, this has to be the single biggest selling point for the SRX41, wire free communication! With the connectivity built into this machine it would be hard not to get a connection to something, somewhere.



We have Wi-Fi (802.11) which, inside of two minutes near the Linksys WAP11, was up and running! The internal card is an Orinoco one so there is no cause for complaint there and works very well indeed however, the range is hampered slightly by the fact that there is no external aerial and, it seems there is no provision for one either so long range WLAN access is out. To be fair though I was still getting an easy twenty to thirty meters with no problems and that's as far as I need to go really.

On the other hand, the huge bonus is that you do not have an aerial hanging out the side of a PCMCIA slot that can be broken off, nor do you have the PCMCIA WLAN adaptor eating battery power, which they invariably do when used on a laptop. On the side of the SRX41 there is a wireless on/off switch and this enables or disables the internal wireless connections to save battery power. When this switch is set to on a panel appears onscreen allowing the choice of WLAN, Bluetooth or both.



Bluetooth has a nice blue LED which lights up when it's active whilst the WLAN is a green one; neither shows any activity only that a connection is active.

Then we have Bluetooth which is a review in itself!


To be honest there's not many things that are bad about this machine and a lot of the problems are addressed by simply using the built-in connectivity, which is one set of features that cannot be criticised. As far as I know this is one of the very few laptops to have both integrated WLAN and Bluetooth let alone in this compact package.

The price is always an issue and, on the face of it, to pay nearly £2000 for an 800Mhz laptop when you can buy a 1Ghz one for under a £1000 was always going to look a bit silly but it's not the comparison that should be made here. What you are paying for is the connectivity and the diminutive size coupled with a fantastic build quality and excellent battery life. Although I would liked to have seen a soft case included given the price!

The lack of legacy ports is the big one as there is no PS2, no serial, no parallel ports and only one USB port. There is also no facility for a docking station to give these in any other way so if you don't have access to a LAN, WLAN or Bluetooth WAP then it would probably be best to steer clear if you think you may need any legacy ports. That said, these days and for the market that this machine is aimed at I really do not see that as being a problem, in fact it's a huge bonus as it leads to less you are carrying about that is not needed!

The one thing I do miss is a serial port so that I could connect the GPS unit up to it, so if anyone has a clever suggestion I'd be grateful!

Would I recommend this laptop, bluntly, wholeheartedly! It has loads going for it and little against it, battery life is superb, connectivity is superb and the general build and quality of the laptop is outstanding so overall a hit.

1 Comment on "Sony VAIO PCG-SRX41P – Review"

  1. BENJAMIN RAMAGE | February 8, 2022 at 6:28 pm |

    Today in 2022 my little Sony is still going strong; admittedly not in every day use for which I now use an iPad but it is a fun thing to have and to use!

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