The Shell

Sony's VAIO (Video Audio Integrated Operation) product line has always set itself apart from the competition by its unique purple-ish color, and futuristic demeanor. Fortunately, unlike some competing product lines, the VAIO line backs up its attractive looks with comfort an absolute plus. The PCG-818, in spite of its "high-end" label, does come in an extremely lightweight and manageable package. Unlike many high-end laptops, which follow up their impressive, desktop-like, specs with a bulky design, the PCG-818 does the exact opposite. Growing out of the roots of the elder VAIO laptops, the PCG-818 is a barely larger than a sheet of paper with it's 11.7" width and its 9.3" depth. The laptop is also a mere 1.75" thin and weighs in at an acceptable 5.9 lbs.
Unfolding the 13.3" XGA Active Matrix LCD display from its seated position, AnandTech was able to take a good look at the shell of the expensively tiny laptop. The large keyboard didn't seem to be a proper match for the size of the laptop itself, however for those of you that are consistently complaining about the size and comfort of typing on a laptop keyboard, the PCG-818's keyboard comes as close to a full sized PC keyboard without using any butterfly storage techniques.
The keys themselves do seem to be a bit low-profile, making proper fingering of the keys a bit of a problem, especially if you're searching for a key in the dark (just in case you happen to like working at night in your hotel room). During the evaluation of the laptop, AnandTech had very little trouble adjusting to the keyboard on the PCG-818, and was definitely pleased by the overall quality of the design.

As with all other Sony notebooks, as well as most competing products, the pointing device on the PCG-818 is a digital touch pad positioned just south of the keyboard. The two button device can be a bit difficult to operate, and definitely makes dragging/dropping, highlighting large tables, and general navigation of applications a bit tricky in comparison to your good ol' mouse. Many users will opt to use their favorite Windows shortcuts wherever possible, as the touch pad can grow to be quite the annoying feature. Luckily, Sony's configuration software does allow for a very useful option to remove some of the problems touch pads have posed in the past, such as disabling the touch pad while typing, therefore preventing any accidental movement/operation of the device.

Moving around to left side of the laptop, Sony has outfitted the PCG-818 with two bays, both custom-fit for their contents, the first being the primary battery storage bay, and the second being the removable hard drive bay. The system ships standard with a single battery pack, and a 6.4GB 2.5" Toshiba EIDE hard disk in the removable HDD bay. Also on the left you have the audio I/O ports for the bundled headphones, a microphone (not included), or external speakers (not included).

The rear of the laptop, as you can probably expect, is home to the built-in port replicator which consists of: 1 PS/2 port (for KB/Mouse), 1 9-pin Serial port, 1 VGA connector, a parallel port, and a USB port. Also located on the back panel is an interface connector for an optional docking station, as well as an infrared port for wireless data transfers and communication. The bundled AC Adapter/Battery Charger plugs into the back of the laptop as to prevent any entanglement of wires while not running off of the system's battery.

The PCG-818's Ports

While many other manufacturers will strip their laptops dry before weighing to provide their customers with an absurdly low figure, Sony does the exact opposite once again. The 5.9 lbs weight is with both, a battery pack and the DVD-ROM drive installed in their appropriate bays. Removing the included DVD-ROM drive and replacing it with an also included 3.5" floppy drive took the weight down to 5.7 lbs, and by removing the occupants out of the floppy/DVD-ROM drive bay and installing Sony's provided "weight-saver" bay filler, the total weight of the laptop (and batter) dropped down to an incredible 5.3 lbs.

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PCG-818 Specs Turning it inside out

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