The Sony VAIO VGN-AW Series is a range of mid to very high-end desktop replacement laptops released by Sony in 2008. Announced alongside with the VGC-RT desktop, the series is intended for premium media consumption and home use, while the top-spec models are designed for media professionals as their portable workstation.
Different VGN-AW case models offered:
- Lower-end: "Titanium Gray" plastic case, metal bottom
- High-end: matte black case, metal bottom
- Top-spec: "Premium Piano Black", glossy black lid, chrome "ring", mat black palmrest assembly with premium-feeling rubber palmrest (built using the same material as Sony's Alpha-series DSLR), optional portable monitor hood (VGP-DHA1)
Lower-end models had no subwoofer, and a reasonably good CCFL 1680x945 display, while higher-end models had a 1920x1080 panel with a double-lamp CCFL (high-end), or RGB LED (top-spec) backlight technology. Sony claimed the LED models had 100% coverage of Adobe RGB, and they were highly praised for their excellent picture quality, color reproduction, and overall sharpness. They were mostly marketed to professionals, for picture or video editing, being bundled with a free copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
The AW Series was offered with a choice of Penryn Intel Core 2 Duos, as well as a NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS for the lower-end models, and a 9600M GT for the higher-end ones. They also have support for up to 8GB of DDR2 RAM, with some models shipping with a single 4GB DDR2 module and even 8GB in the highest spec models which were pricey and rare at the time and still is today.
Higher-end models also had special features that lower-end models didn't have, like a CF reader (the only laptop ever released to feature one), Blu-ray burner (lower-end models only had a Blu-ray reader), TV tuner, fingerprint sensor, Windows Vista Ultimate, and SSD storage. Top-spec AWs included a Dual-SSD setup running in RAID 0.
In Japan, the difference between the top-spec models and lower-end ones is less clear, as you can find "Titanium Gray" models with hardware usually found only in the black and "Premium Piano Black" models, like the 9600M GT, CCFL 1080p displays, and CF reader. Also only in Japan, marketing referred the top-spec models as "Photo Edition" and gray models as "Video Edition".
Processor: Penryn Intel Core 2 Duo (not soldered)
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS (256MB) or NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT (512MB)
Chipset: Intel PM45 Express
Memory: DDR2-800, 2 slots, max 8GB
Display: 18.4" 1680x945 CCFL, 1920x1080 dual CCFL, or 1920x1080 RGB LED Sony X-black LCD (with claimed 100% Adobe RGB coverage and 137% color reproduction rate for NTSC)
Storage (low-end to high-end models): 2x SATA slots, HDD (2nd SATA slot optional)
Storage (top-spec models): 2x 64GB Dual-SSDs, RAID 0 (1x slot occupied, one SATA slot free)
OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate (64-bit, SP1) or Windows 7 (later models)
Weight: 3.7 to 4kg
MSRP: around 1000€ to 3600€
Daily Usage Today
The AW is still very usable today for modern tasks like text editing, media consumption (which is still better than on most non-OLED laptops from today, only on 1080p LED models), and light gaming (9600M GT). Lower-end models are still usable, but you won't have an experience quite as good as you would have on higher-end ones. YouTube 1080p60 playback is fine on the 9600M GT models, however, on the 9300M GS, even 720p stutters.
Top-end AWs can be very pricey, popping up on eBay rarely, and costing upwards of 1000€. Lower-end models can be found for significantly cheaper, but are still pretty rare.
Users have reported of the magnesium power cable ring breaking and also the DC jack breaking around where it connects to the motherboard. The DC jack can be acquired for cheap while the power jack ring is quite difficult and expensive, costing about £20 for one. If you have a top model with the rubber palmrest, it also has a tendency to unglue itself from the palmrest, this can be simply glued back in though. Overall, parts availability is rare and expensive, especially if looking for exterior pieces and if it's for a high end or top model, however batteries (VGP-BPS13) are cheap (approx £20 on eBay) as they were used in many other VAIO models.
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