About us

Scan Windows 7

Have disc, will travel
Last month we took a first look at Samsung's Blu-Ray player, the BD-P1000. Retailing at around 1000 it's an expensive proposition however as we found today, if you are willing to spend around 1000 more not only do you get a Blu-Ray burner but a notebook as well.

Click to enlarge

The Sony VAIO AR20 series is now in its second generation but looks like a seasoned performer in the desktop replacement market. Clearly the headline feature of this model is its Blu-Ray drive, however Sony have added some further deft touches to their flagship model.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Sporting a cover which has a 12 layer piano gloss finish, the 17" screen looks stunning with a resolution of 1920x1200. This means you get the full 1080p experience from the Blu-Ray drive. Unlike most notebooks, the AR20 series features HDMI connectivity on all models and when playing back onto a 55" screen the picture quality was outstanding.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

As this is a Media Center notebook, there's an integrated DVB-T digital FreeView tuner and comes installed with Windows Media Center edition. A selection of Adobe Elements software comes pre-installed such as Photoshop, Premier and Acrobat.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Attention to detail continues around the keyboard area with buttons recessed and not a plasticy surface in sight. The matt black brushed aluminium surface is a surprising contrast to the gloss black found on the exterior. All connectors are hidden away except for the FreeView tuner input.

Of course all this functionality comes at a price. The first generation model pictured in this article retails at around 1700 with the second generation unit nearer 2000. However, when you consider Samsung's Blu-Ray player costs 1000, the 1000 premium for a laptop most would lust over let alone have the ability to write Blu-Ray disks represents excellent value. And don't think you're getting a poor quality drive either. As we saw, when hooked up to a 55" 1080p screen, the AR21S easily cut the mustard.

The other price comes in the form of portability. Due to the 17" screen, the unit is bulky and weight is an issue if you want to carry it around all day. These complaints are to a degree unfair as they are simply by products found in any notebook sporting these features.

Thinking about a Blu-Ray player for Christmas? Consider the AR20 series notebooks - you'd be a fool not to.

Expect a full review soon.