The Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU may be a perfect example of a desktop-replacement laptop.

A desktop-replacement laptop may be suitable for moving from room to room, but it doesn't usually make for an ideal travel companion due to its size, weight and short battery life. In its favour, you ought to get a big screen to work on and powerful performance.

The perfect example of such a model could be the Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU. It offers a large 17in display and fast performance, but does tip the scales at nearly 4kg and is capable only of extremely short battery life.

The Sony AR61ZU is equipped with one of Intel's new Penryn processors - a Core 2 Duo T8300 running at 2.4GHz - and a generous 4GB of RAM. As a result it managed to achieve a score of 92 running our WorldBench real-world benchmark software, which is high for a portable machine.

Gaming performance is good too, with the Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU's nVidia GeForce 8600M GT chip capable of turning out 29 frames per second (fps) when running the intensive FEAR graphics test.

If you're after a machine that can turn its hand to entertainment, the Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU won't disappoint. It comes with an internal TV tuner, so you can watch and record programmes using the Media Center PVR application that comes as standard with Windows Vista Ultimate edition. There's also an internal Blu-ray drive, so you can watch high-definition films and its 1,920x1,200 high resolution screen means it can display 1080p HD content without having to downscale the image to fit.

The Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU isn't without its problems, however. Although you wouldn't expect to be using it that much away from mains power, it managed to keep going for only 71 minutes running our test, which is extremely short. One other slight annoyance is the size of the touchpad - it's a little on the small size and given the amount of space available a larger one would be easier to use.

There's also no getting away from the Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU's price tag - at £1,799 inc VAT it's still an expensive choice, although it does offer a reasonable value-vs-performance ratio.


The Sony Vaio VGN-AR61ZU is a very competent desktop-replacement laptop with impressive performance and good entertainment capabilities. Provided you're not planning on moving it too far and you can afford the high asking price it shouldn't disappoint.