WHAT'S NOT: The PCG-SRX77's 10.4-inch screen is small and not as vivid as other active-matrix screens, even with the brightness turned all the way up. The case is also a little tough to open.
Getting used to the petite keyboard takes a while. Paging up or down requires a combination keystroke, and the right Shift key is no larger than an alphanumeric key, which makes it almost impossible for touch typists to find.
As expected, the PCG-SRX77 lacks internal bays and some older notebook connections (a parallel port, a serial connection, and a mouse/keyboard PS/2 port). It also omits a standard monitor connection; instead you get a mini connection on the left side and a short adapter cable you'll have to remember to pack. Worsening matters, Sony doesn't sell a docking station or a port replicator to provide any of the missing connections.
External optical drives for the PCG-SRX77 use a PC Card interface, which fills the notebook's only PC Card slot. At the notebook's $2230 price, you get a relatively slow 12X-16X CD-ROM drive. You get just one USB port, as well.
WHAT ELSE: Except for its purple touchpad, the PCG-SRX77 eschews Sony's trademark purple-and-silver case colors for a more corporate look: silver and black with metallic accents. To save battery life, it has a switch that turns off scanning for wireless networks.
Don't like the touchpad? For scrolling and making selections in some menus, the PCG-SRX77 provides the latest Sony Jog Dial, a small barrel with its own back button embedded in the mouse buttons. Stereo speakers (unusual for an ultraportable) are mounted just beneath the last row of keys; their quality is far from top-of-the-line, but they're loud. Color-coded ports for headphones and a microphone sit on the right side. To its credit, the PCG-SRX77 lets you access, with some effort, both the hard drive and the memory slots, which is not always possible with an ultraportable. The hard drive sits behind a panel and four small screws; RAM is under the keyboard.
The PCG-SRX77's long-lasting lithium ion battery, a detachable bar that forms the back of the notebook, can act as a foot for typing at an angle. Sony sells a slightly heavier $499 power pack that it says will double the already long battery life. You can also get the PCG-SRX77 with speedier optical drives, namely a CD-RW drive ($500), a DVD-ROM drive ($400), or an 8X DVD-ROM and 8X/4X/24X CD-RW combination drive ($500).
The PCG-SRX77 turned in a fine performance for an ultraportable with a low-voltage 800-MHz/500-MHz Pentium III-M processor. Its PC WorldBench 4 score of 79 puts it in line with other ultraportables we've tested with the Windows XP Professional operating system. Sony's documentation consists mostly of a nice electronic user manual and a printed Quick Start manual to get you headed in the right direction.
UPSHOT: For anyone who needs an easy-to-tote digital editing machine for a relatively low price, the VAIO PCG-SRX77 should be near the top of the list. However, as it omits legacy connections, lacks a docking station or port replicator to provide them, and bears only one USB port, the PCG-SRX77 does have some severe limitations. By Carla Thornton