The processor in the Sony VAIO VGN-AW11 is the Intel T9600 running at 2.8GHz, one of the fastest CPUs currently available for portables. And for storage, it uses two drives - the first boot drive is an SSD constructed from two Samsung 64GB modules, giving a 128GB RAID 0 striped array. And for main storage there is a 500GB 2.5in hard disk, providing plenty of room for storing content.

The final performance component of the Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU that raises the stakes is the expensive graphics card, an nVidia 9600M GT with 512MB GDDR3 RAM, promising a good 3D graphics performance.

As you might expect from Sony, the VAIO VGN-AW11XU comes equipped with a Blu-ray drive, and in this case one that will write to blank BD media as well as play high-def films. Other features include not one multi-card reader, but three separate slots for SD Cards, Sony MS sticks and Compact Flash media.

Build quality of the Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU is superb. It feels solid and very well constructed, with neat touches such as a thick leather-like palm rest area which adds class and improves comfort.

The keyboard is the Scrabble tile type, with a confident positive key action, and impressively precise trackpad with easy-to-click buttons.

Screen quality is outstanding. Out of the box, reds were a little over-saturated but this can be tuned with a screen calibrator such as a Spyder Elite.

Once setup the Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU is capable of providing excellent colour reproduction, and even, bright backlighting across the whole large panel, not forgetting a refreshing lack of glossy panel reflections.