The Sony Vaio AW11Z/B's design is simple - black with a silver trim in this case, with only the usual PC-laptop flair of logos spoiling it a little.

Even the Sony Vaio AW11Z/B's hinge has been turned into an aesthetic element, being a barrel that runs the length of the laptop housing the power connector at one end and the power switch at the other.

The curved design hides a lot of the Sony Vaio AW11Z/B 's bulk, like a large man in a well-cut suit. Like Acer's Acer Aspire 8930, the 18in Sony Vaio AW11Z/B is lighter than you expect - not weighing any more than some models with 17in screens.

We are a little disappointed by the Sony Vaio AW11Z/B's screen. It's a gloss screen, so it won't work well under studio lighting, and it's rather oversaturated before calibration - though not as much as Asus's overstimulating G71V.

In Photoshop, the Sony Vaio AW11Z/B's performance was poor, which we'd put down to Sony's use of slower, 800MHz DDR2 memory. Most similar models - except the cheapo Acer Aspire 8930 - use 1,066MHz or 1,333MHz DDR RAM. And despite the Vaio's relatively low cost, we expect more from a laptop for creative pros. This Vaio's After Effects and Cinebench scores were mediocre too, which is what'd we expect from a relatively slow dual-core chip.

While other laptops ship include accessories such as bags and mice, the Sony Vaio AW11Z/B has a remote control in the box. Despite Sony saying that the Vaio AW range targets photographers - with higher end models including a full version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom already installed - this shows who it really suits, which is undemanding home users.

OUR VERDICT

We were very impressed with the great design of the Sony Vaio AW11Z/B and its relatively light weight meant it was practical to transport. You get a lot of laptop for your money, but we weren't convinced by the quality of the screen and found the overall performance mediocre.