Whether or not there is a definite move away from desktop computing towards the more portable notebook or laptop alternative is debatable, but the increase in power of the latter categories certainly opens up the option for a wider variety of users. Where laptops used to be generally less powerful than desktops not so long ago, these devices are certainly catching up.

Take the Sony Vaio F226, for example. It sports a rather impressive set of specifications: an Intel i7 CPU running at 2.2GHz, 8GB of RAM, a 640GB HDD capacity and 1GB of VRAM running off of an NVidia chipset. This is supported by a 16.4 inch LED display, as well as a backlit keyboard and highly effective touch pad. A Blu-ray drive, multi-card reader and numerous other bells and whistles are standard for this model.

It all looks very good on paper, of course, but the proof is in the pudding. The real test is how it actually performs. And we can safely say that it does what it is supposed to admirably. It is powerful enough to be treated as a multimedia and even gaming machine – although, in the latter aspect, it should be considered a middle-range option. We have seen some laptops, built for gaming, that certainly out-perform this one.

Still, the performance – even in gaming – in none too shabby. In fact, the only real criticism is levelled at the unit’s speakers, which (as is often the case with laptops) are a little less than satisfactory.

That’s no real matter, though – anyone using this device for multimedia or gaming purposes will either be using headphones or external speakers, anyway.

The whole unit looks really good, finished in matt black metal and durable, low-gloss black plastic. It sports a full chicklet-style keyboard that is wonderfully quiet, and a beautifully sensitive touch pad.

While it is capable of high end performance like gaming, the F226 hasn’t been designed to look the part. That’s not a bad thing, trust me. Many of the higher end laptops buy into the whole idea of ‘looking cool’, which often turns out garish. The F226, though, looks like it means business, and it does. This device would be as comfortable in a business setting as it would anywhere else, with the added bonus of being powerful and pretty impressive. It doesn’t show off with its looks, which seems to grant it some weird kind of confidence… And confidence is what the user of this well built, powerful laptop will have when they power it on and get to business – or pleasure.

Further versatility is granted by two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 port and an HDMI output. Built in wireless functionality and a FireWire port, as well as a LAN port, take care of connectivity.

All in all, this stylish and understated laptop makes for a great option – it delivers power without being garish and, while not being the most potent laptop on the market, still makes for a solid multi-usage option.

Well done, Sony!

Verdict: It might look understated, but this stylish laptop packs tons of punch!