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  1.  A good bit of kit. Shame about the bloatware!


    I bought this laptop under the impression that the 'out of the box' performance would be amazing. Sadly it wasn't. This was largely due to the bloatware that Sony have decided to load it down with.

    The Good Points : The hardware is really very good in the AR51E - the dual core really shines through once you've got a good operating system install. It looks great and has a nice feel to the keyboard (with plenty of space to rest your wrists for comfort). The screen is crystal sharp and movies play very well. There are two 2.5" drive bays in the machine and you can easily add a faster ATA7 (SATA150) harddisk as your primary drive - again increasing the speed of the machine.

    The bad points : As mentioned before, Sony have loaded this model down with bloatware, which most people would never use, including over 40 Sony installations for drivers / utilities. All of this stuff really adds up and brings down the overall speed of the machine. Unfortunately, the unit only comes pre-installed with Vista - and SONY OFFER NO DOWNGRADE PATH TO XP! This is especially important if you think you'll be easily removing Vista to replace it with your favourite OS! Luckily, the ClubVaio community have ways around this if you're a technical bod - and once you put Windows XP on there, you really start to see the power unleashed!

    Overall, this would have been a 4 or possibly 5 out of 5 machine - but Sony have crippled it with bloatware and too many driver installs. If you are technically minded, it's worth buying this machine and putting XP on it as a fresh install - making it both usable and slick. If you're expecting a grand machine 'out of the box' - then think again. It's initial impression will leave you disappointed.