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on July 30, 2007
The reality about the Sony Vaio VGN-UX380N is that it is what it claims to be: an >ultra< mobile portable computer. It is not a PDA (those would be smaller but not run a full version of Windows). It is not a laptop/notebook (those would be larger and have a nearly-full-sized keyboard). It is, however, a compromise between the two. Its a chance to have a full version of Windows running on a real computer that can be carried in a small bag or purse (but not a pocket).

That being said, I purchased it to be able to remotely perform network tasks such as administering servers and routers, handle real email (and attachments), view and update spreadsheets and Word documents, and quickly surf the Internet while waiting for a plane or some other event. It does all that.

Perhaps the best thing is that it truly has all bases covered for connectivity that I would possibly use. It does Ethernet and, while the Ethernet port isn't built in, it has one on the dock and also on a small dongle so that you still have a portable computer that does Ethernet. It handles WiFi A/B/G (no N but that isn't even an accepted standard just yet). There's bluetooth and finally WWAN through Cingular/AT&T.

The biggest drawback would be not the size (you should expect a 4.5" screen to be pretty small and you can easily zoom in to make it bigger) but the keyboard. Its functional and has the primary keys available without using modifiers like shift or function (even the common symbols like \ and numbers are available with one touch). It isn't very good for touch typing. Now, a small keyboard isn't going to be any good on any computer if you want to write a term paper or create the company's 2008 budget but even tasks such as entering a web URL seem to take longer than they should due to the keyboard design. You can use the pen, however, and logins can also use your fingerprint(s) so that you don't have to re-enter common logins. This is true not just for the Window login but for logins to web sites and network shares and such (the fingerprint software tracks these and can re-enter your login/password for almost anything with the swipe of a finger).

The hard drive is small and Vista is large. I recommend that you immediately boot up the new 380N, create the recovery DVDs (2) using a USB DVD burner (I used a generic one that worked just fine) and then boot to the recovery DVD and restore the system MINUS the recovery partition. This will give you an extra 6-8 GB of disk space. Once you get back into Vista after the restore, get the properties on the C: drive and check the "use compression" box. Then wait for it to compress everything (choose "ignore all" after the first uncompressable file is found) and you'll have even more space without a noticeable performance degradation.

Quick tip: Windows Vista supports remote desktop (RDP) so if you have another PC on the network, you can RDP into this Vaio and setup and configure the unit quite easily without the pen and keyboard. You can also install a free VNC host on the unit to configure it from a Mac or PC (also networked) but you will only be able to mimic the 1024x600 screen with VNC. Still, this shows up quite nicely on a "real" monitor and makes you appreciate just how tight the pixels are on the Vaio.

Recommended as your primary computer: no, not at this time. Recommended as a portable companion to an existing desktop or notebook? Absolutely if it is truly the portability you need!
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on March 31, 2007
The text is sharp and clear even at the smallest size. And it has so many features built in. It seems like the perfect solution to having a PDA and a laptop. However, it will be a while before we can determine that for sure. After purchasing the VGN-UX380N my husband decided to upgrade the operating system to Vista Ultimate. After that things started going wrong and after a phone call to Sony we found out that the Ultimate operating system isn't supported because there aren't compatible drivers yet. There was nothing in the documentation to warn us about this. Since the PC doesn't come with a set of Recovery Disks and none were made before the upgrade, we purchased the set. (The upgrade destroyed the VAIO Recovery Center that was on the system initially.) Now we've found out that the only CD/DVD drive that the PC will boot from is the VGP-DDRW4 which we don't have and is rather expensive. We do have another CD/DVD drive that works great for everything else, but it will not boot to the Recovery CDs. We will get that resolved shortly and hopefully begin using the PC for it's intended purpose.

My review isn't to scare anyone away from this device. I think it's a great machine when you realize these initial shortcomings. I just want to warn others who might consider upgrading to Ultimate to hold off until Sony supports it. And, make a set of Recovery Disks as soon as you get the machine up and running.
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on October 23, 2007
I've had a 380n for about 2 months now, and am more impressed with it every week. Sony has made some major blunders with this machine, but they're fixable:

(1) The machine runs "okay" on Vista, beautifully on XP. If you're technical, rip out Vista and upgrade to XP. Sony won't help at all with the drivers, but you'll find them in a neat little package (along with a lot of friendly support) at micropctalk.com.

(2) Sony loads up the system with loads of Crapware. Uninstall it.

(3) Sony loads up the hard drive with a hidden recovery partition. If you're technical, create a backup disk (Sony says how, or buy it from Sony), then erase the hard drive and start over without the extra partition.

(4) Increase the display DPI setting to 150%. Makes everything bigger and more legible on the screen.

(5) Install "RitePen," a free and amazingly accurate stylus-to-text interpreter. Now you have a perfectly functional touchpad.

(6) Get an Igo bluetooth keyboard ($50). Now you have a fully-functional keyboard when you need to write that 20-page document.

Once again, a remarkable machine, with great potential. Go for it.

EDIT: To the reviewer who only got 35 minutes on the battery--Sir, you need to charge the battery once in a while. I get about 2:30 on the standard battery, Vista people apparently get about 2:00. You can get a double-size battery from Sony for it, but it's expensive.
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on September 1, 2007
The unit is an amazing device, small light with all the latest communication features, The keyboard is not easy to use, the keys are small and embedded, so hard to reach for my big fingers, i would suggest a blue tooth add-on. The screen fonts are so small that even with my reading glasses it is straining on the eyes. The hard drive came with a 30 GB partition, the extra 10 are unaccessible (unexplainable with such a small drive. The drive also came cluttered of trial software Which took a while to remove not without some glitches thanks to vista. On the communication side it is exemplary all the latest tech is included and works well, one small problem for cingular wan, when traveling abroad you cannot use sim cards from other carrier so it is expensive to use, the device seemed locked to cingular network. Mine came without a user manual so i had to discover its workings the hard way. Blue tooth devices connected well, and the wifi worked fine. overall it is worth the price i paid for it on amazon.
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VINE VOICEon June 23, 2008
(+) very nice design
(+) touchscreen functions work well
(+) decent screen size. very nice screen with high resolution.
(+) provided accessories

(-) slow. needs cpu upgrade & faster disk. more RAM would be nice.
(-) weak antennas. needs "n" upgrade.
(-) have to carry peripheral devices, so defeat the small size.
(-) small & crampy keyboard. typing is hindered by the raised edge.
(-) feel thick in your hands. should be slimmer like the OQO-2
(-) I HATE SONY BLOAT WARES. had to format hard drive and reinstall everything (make sure you have all drivers when do so).
(-) i wish the memory slot is SD.
(-) short battery life (1.5-2.5 depending on settings). need extended battery for meaningful on the road use.
(-) sliding screen scratches keyboard.

*** unless you absolutely are a technophile who love Sony products, i would not advise purchasing this UMPC. i had both this and the OQO-2. personally, i like the OQO-2 more. BUT i barely used these due to the slowness, the small screen size, and syncing data. having an EDVO-enabled WM cell phone or the iPhone takes away the ultramobility functionality of these UMPC.

i bought this + the extended battery + MemoryStick. big mistake / waste of money. sold them both on eBay.
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VINE VOICEon December 22, 2007
Hi Everybody,

First, let me tell you what it is:

- 1.33 Ghz. Core Solo Intel processor.
- 1 Gb RAM.
- 1 320*200 pixels Motion Eye integrated camera on the front to be used as a webcam (the best i've seen to date. By far better than my Macbook pro's iSight)
- 1 1.x Mega Pixels integrated camera on the back intended to take picture and it even has a "capture" button but... the software leaves something to be desired.
- Biometric reader which beyond letting you login to windows, it's supposed to be used as your password assistance everywhere... i can't make it work the way it should...
- Integrated mouse and keyboard.
- 1 USB 2.0 port
- Microphone and headphones ports
- Memory Stick DUO PRO port
- Dock Port
- Integrated wireless lan, Bluetooth and EDGE wan technology (the same sloooooooooooow service you get on a GSM phone like iPhone when out of Europe to connect to the internet, UMTS should be better but. let's face it, we're far away from Europe in this matter)

Whar comes with it:

- The computer.
- The papers.
- One Wired Lan and VGA out port in case you need it on the run (it connects to the dock port and it's a reasonably small cable). I spent hours trying to know if i could attach an external projector to do a presentation or to connect to LAN or both.... well with this included adapter you can and because you're reading this, if this was a concern now you can use those researching hours for something more productive like... sleeping? :)
- One port replicator Dock station with 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 VGA port, Wired Lan RJ-45 ethernet port, A/V out, 1 four pins IEEE 1394 firewire port.
- A very practical carrying case that you can attach to your belt (i didn't know this and bought the very unpractical and expensive leather case which i won't use anyway)

What i like:

- It's ULTRA sharp screen... make no mistakes, it's wonderful. I just can't emphasize it enough.
- It's design, let's face it... it looks great!
- It's usability, despite it's small sized keyboard ,it's designed to be used by your thumbs just like the rest of the computer.
- Finally... It Works!

What i don't like:

- It's an ultra portable computer but lacks of worldwide assistance and warranty.. which is a veeeery stupid policy from Sony... My MacBook Pro has Worldwide coverage like almost any premium priced portable just because it's portable so you can be here today and there tomorrow... and still be covered. but let's face it, Sony it's not a monopoly in consumer electronics just because the stupidness of some of their management. :(.
- Battery Life.
- Memory Stick instead of SD which adds no value but anyway... this is a Sony product and has to be as proprietary as it can be.
- Time you spend explaining almost all the people around you that it's not a PDA... yes... it works with Vista... Yes it has a Hard Drive... Yes, it's a complete computer.... No, it doesn't works with Windows Mobile nor Symbian... but anyway it's not the product's fault... it's just because it's so small which is it's main advantage.

My final comments:

- With the Dock, you can have a complete computer in your hands when on the road and a desktop PC when you're in home or office, even both. Just connect your monitor, wired or wireless keyboard/mouse and everything you should connect to USB/Firewire ports and you're done!
- The keyboard as well as the computer itself it's veeeeery well designed to be used with your thumbs. You can manage the mouse, the typing and everything with your thumbs and believe me, it works, most people complaints about it's tiny keyboard because it's small for their fingers and bla bla bla... but it is not designed to be used like your everyday keyboard, it's designed to be used on the road, while walking, etc. If you need to have a better keyboard with you when you're on the road and you can spare a table, i really recommend iGo stowaway bluetooth keyboard (formerly a think outside product). I have it and it couple veeeeery well with this computer... it even has an stand for the computer while typing.
- Prepare psychologically to explain to people what it is (the computer) everywhere you go but, if you like showing up... it's a very good tool for that. (i don't particularly like that)

Final words:

- If you like it and understand what it is... just buy it, you won't regret!
- If you need top performance because you're a serious gamer, just don't bother looking, at least for that use, buy a PSP which is cheaper and made just for doing it (gaming)
- If you want to have a veeeeeeery advanced iPod or i might say... Walkman... remember it only has 40 gigs and Microsoft Vista which is HUGE... but you can find 1.8" toshiba hard drives from 100 gigs to 120 gigs and maybe when you read it 200 or more gigs that you could use to upgrade your Vaio. Just as a curious comment, it uses the very same type of hard drives iPods uses.
- if 40 gigs are not too much, just imagine 30... because it has a 10 gigs restore partition. My recommendation, make your restore DVDs and then reduce this partition to it's minimum... BTW, this partitions lies hidden somewhere...

If only Sony had ears to listen to their customers... This should be a 7 stars product, even on a 5 star scale but... even when i like Sony, i can't understand why such an advanced and innovative company can make earing aid buds at least for internal use.

PP
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on August 31, 2007
I have to say this is one very nice product. I just got mine 3 days ago and this machine is outstanding I love the size the screen is perfect. I use it with unbox and the videos loook great. I also own another UMPC the Asus R2H. The UX380N blows it away. I am running xp on the Asus and Vista on the Sony and it is not slow at all. I have not done a lot of heavy work on it yet but it looks like it could handle it.

The downside on the machine is the Hard drive size 40gigs is nice but I belive sony is holding onto 10gigs for system restore.

The computer is very well made the design is outstanding. If you want a micro or UMPC please look at this one the price is now right and I love it
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on February 6, 2008
I'm more than impressed with my Sony VAIO VGN-UX380N 4.5" Laptop. It's surprisingly usable for such a small machine. What I like best about it, is that I a nearly fully usable computer anywhere I go. I use WiFi at home or at hotspots, and when there is no open WiFi, I plugged in my T-mobile SIM card for easy EDGE data access. (You have to call Sony for a SIM card unlock code to get T-mobile to work as it's ready for Cingular, they also have the full unlock procedure on their website.)

I'm used to using a BlackBerry, so the keyboard is no problem for me. I wind up using my thumbs to type mostly. (Plus, You can always add a bluetooth or USB keyboard).

As far as Windows Vista, I have other Vista computers, and I've got to say Sony did an excellent job making sure driver compatibility issues were ironed out. If you are afraid of buggy Vista, never fear this computer runs Vista with no problems.

I'm a computer consultant, and I've seen many small PC's which are built terrible without any consideration of hardware engineering, however this guy has good ventilation and has features like built in hard drive protection when it gets jostled around.

My two complaints are, (1) it comes preloaded with lots of crapware (like many other PCs do). I killed all the crapware, and did some googling for procedures on optimizing Vista, and it runs fast and efficient and (2) It uses Sony's proprietary memory sticks which cost more than traditional SD cards. (Then again everything Sony uses Sony's Memory Sticks).

I also found out that it disables the EDGE modem when you have the cover for the SD card removed. Which had me stumped for awhile trying to get the EDGE modem to work. I suppose that is a safety feature =)
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on February 13, 2012
This is an awesome machine, that's all there is to it.! The form factors have to work for you to love and appreciate them. This unit is small and fully packed with Intel, Windows,and Sony technology with room to spare. It runs a full Windows operating system and is perfect for the on the go person who needs to use a computer in various settings, especially mobile. Wi-Fi, wireless, Bluetooth are all there and the touchscreen makes it double (or triple) as a fully functional tablet to boot.

When these first arrived the 2K price sticker was more than some wanted to bear for a machine this size, but prices have declined since Sony has stopped making them and you can get this machine for around $500.00 - a complete steal.!!

Others have extensively listed all the features and specs, I won't repeat them. If you are seriously considering this machine, you know the specs by now anyway.

Again, it all boils down to form and function: if you have need for a computer this size,it is nearly flawless in my opinion, and I own nearly every brand on the market in one form or another to compare. Add the port replicator and peripherals and you have a unit that could function as well as most desktops, screen clarity and picture to rival any 17" screen laptop, the ability to work as a tablet, GPS, movie viewer, smaller than netbook sizing, and a full OS.

Yes, you could nit pick and complain about the screen size (remember form and function) or the fact that it only has one USB slot on the machine and so forth, but then you wouldn't be the person looking for this form. As an entertainment center/workstation/web browser/productivity tool, this does the trick for me. I owned a Sony Clie UX-50, and this was the logical evolution forward. It has functionality for me even today, almost 5 years after coming to market (even longer if you count the prior models) and specs to match. No, it does not and should not replace a full desktop, or if you need a machine to do a specific task the size and form may not be what you need or like the most, but this dynamo packs a big punch and tons of versatility. Go out and get one while the prices have dropped, you will be glad you did.
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on March 27, 2011
i got this computer from a friend and i like it a lot. its portable and does everything i need it to do.
ps: i upgraded to windows 7 and got all the drivers to work, touchpad,apls,bio(scanner) i read that they didnt work but i did it any ways and im glad i did because they do work. so if youre thinking about doing it do it you wont regret it
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