Sony makes some great laptop computers. Nicely designed, with good features and really comfortable to use. But they come at a price – and the Vaio S is a prime example. The newly refreshed model comes in a number of variants. The model we’re reviewing sits at the higher end of the range, costing over £1,000 inc. VAT.
A look at the specs
The Vaio’s 13.3in screen might lead you to believe this is a small and light notebook. In fact, it weighs 2kg and measures 329x229x28mm (wdh). That makes it fairly chunky, given the screen size – though at least Sony has managed to build in an optical drive, something you don’t always get with this small screen size, and the keyboard is nicely sized.
In fact, the laptop’s weight is in part due to the aluminum used in its chassis. This actually makes it quite sturdy, albeit with a fair amount of flex in the lid.
What it’s like
The Vaio’s keyboard is a pleasure to use. The chiclet-style keys are well separated from each other and feel wonderful under the fingers. Touch typists will whizz along. Our only gripe with the keyboard is not with the keys themselves but with their backlight. This is fine if you’re sitting at a desk, but if you’re lounging on a sofa, or otherwise not very upright, the backlighting bleeds out around the keys and can be very bright and off-putting.
We aren’t so delighted about the screen which is very, very reflective. One of the most reflective we’ve seen recently, in fact. Still, its 1366×768-pixel resolution delivers video superbly, and viewing angles are good. An ambient light sensor allows automatic brightness adjustment which is a nice tweak, too.
It’s also nice to see a fingerprint sensor that can be used to help with login security, and a webcam means you can do a bit of video calling to friends and relations in foreign parts.
Choosing your model
We said there are lots of different variants of the Vaio S series. Our review sample was equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor and 6GB of RAM – a generous allocation that really helped to boost the PC’s speed. The Nvidia GeForce 310M chipset handles graphics well, though if you go lower down the price range you get an Intel integrated graphics chipset instead.
Our review sample came with integrated 3G support as well as Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth. A 500GB hard drive provides for plenty of storage, and there is shock protection which is nice to see. The optical drive at the right-hand side of the chassis has its release catch on the front edge which is unusual, but not a big problem.
The Vaio S series offers plenty of connectivity options, with three USB ports, ExpressCard slot, i.Link connector, HDMI and VGA ports, headphones and microphone connectors, plus separate SD and Memory Stick slots.
The battery gave us two and a half hours of video playback, indicating that you may get half a day’s life out of it away from the mains, but not much more.