When we first laid eyes on the imported Vaio UX50, bells, horns, whistles and fireworks formed a crescendo in our gadget-hungry heads. It was, quite simply, the most breathtaking portable computer we’d ever seen. As the first UX-series model to officially hit the UK, the UX1 has enormous expectation placed on its rather slim shoulders.

Look, don’t touch

Physically it’s an almost identical beast to the UX50, albeit with a cool all-black livery. The 4.5in touchscreen is still there, and it’s simply awesome. Slide it up to reveal the tiny QWERTY keyboard – this time with all the correct English symbols, of course.

The display resolution is an astounding 1024x600. It’s a touchscreen, but you’ll hardly bother using the stylus, because the control nub is so good. Should you have problems with the size, try the zoom in/out buttons on the right to help read small text.

Has to have Vista, baby

The real changes, though, are inside, with the hard disk being replaced by 32GB of flash memory – which must be the reason for the huge price tag – and Windows XP getting bumped off in favour of the new Windows Vista OS. The processor’s also been beefed up a little and the RAM’s been doubled, but thanks to the extra strain caused by Vista, you don’t notice the difference.

The UX1 is capable of running some big 3D games, although you can’t feed it anything too new, like Rainbow Six Vegas. It’s much more suited to web surfing, which is a cool experience because the screen is so amazing. The antenna isn’t all that receptive, though, so you need a strong signal.

Photo opportunities

You also get to play with two cameras. The front camera is for video calling, while the rear can take 1.3MP photos or video. Filming is excellent, but the screen goes all blurry and slow in photo mode. Still, the battery tops out at four hours – as long as the Wi-Fi isn’t constantly on – which is impressive considering the size.

The UX1 is a gem of an ultraportable computer. The screen could have been a little too small, but the brightness and resolution are so good that it pulls it off. Likewise the keyboard, which is great for popping off emails, although it’s not as useable as the Flybook’s. The only problem is that you can get an imported version that’s almost as good for less than half the price.

Stuff says... 

Sony VAIO VGN-UX1 review

A taste of the future, but the expense-to-usefulness ratio is a little off