Vaio notebooks have been in the running, for quite some time now. While they do have the right dose of specifications, questions have been raised on their steep pricing strategy. However, Sony products do have a better shelf life as compared to the other brands. The recently launched Sony Vaio SB series come in a variety of colours and a range of specifications. But, does the laptop match up in terms of design; build performance and overall user experience? Read on to find out.
The laptop has a purple exterior and interior
Design and Build Quality
Sony designers have given the Vaio series massive freedom, as far as design and colours are concerned. The notebook we reviewed comes in a snazzy purple colour – with a light purple interior and the exterior with a much darker shade. The chassis is made up of hardened plastic, which does seem quite strong. The screen is supported by a single hinge, but it occupies more than three-fourths of the space and is quite sturdy.
Trackpad buttons are disappointingly hard
As far as connectivity is concerned, the Vaio comes with one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports along with an HDMI port, a VGA port, a microSD card reader, Sony’s Magic Gate card reader, a headphone jack and a LAN port. The microphone jack has not been included in the laptop. The eject button for the DVD drive is located at the top of the keyboard. This button is accompanied by a switch to choose between stamina and speed, which basically alters your power plan to high performance (which uses the dedicated graphics card) or normal mode (which uses the integrated graphics card). Sony has also added dedicated Assist, Web and Vaio buttons. The Assist button brings up Sony Vaio care, which is basically used for troubleshooting, diagnostics, recovery and restore. The web button brings up your default browser and the Vaio button brings up the Vaio Media Gallery that allows you to view your photos, videos and music in a single application. Lastly, the fingerprint scanner is located between the two trackpad buttons and the ventilation is located at the rear end of the laptop. The laptop weighs 1.72 kg with the included battery. Overall, we’re not too fond of the purple looks and we’d have preferred a much more subtle colour. But besides that the build quality of the laptop is top-notch.
Sleek, but stylish? We're not big fans of the colour purple
The notebook is powered by Intel’s Core i5 processor, running at a speed of 2.5 GHz capable of running at 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost. There’s 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard disk and an AMD Radeon HD 6470M Graphics card. The screen is 13.3-inch diagonally and has an LED backlight. As part of the features, there’s a 0.3 megapixel front camera and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. The touchpad supports gestures for pinch zooming into pictures, flick navigation and rotation.
Sony have installed a whole bunch of software, which include Evernote for VAIO, VAIO Control Centre, VAIO Gate, Webcam Companion, Magic-I Visual Effects, Remote Play with PlayStation3, McAfee PC Security Centre 30-day Free Trial, Webroot Spy Sweeper 90-day Free Trial, VAIO Care Rescue, VAIO Update, VAIO Transfer Support, Norton Online Backup 60-day Free Trial. That’s a whole bunch of software and as a personal opinion they’ve pre-loaded the laptop with much more than the functionality they provide.
The laptop comes with a backlit keyboard
The chiclet keyboard has become more-or-less standard now, but the trackpad buttons on the Vaio were quite problematic. The buttons are quite hard to press and have a poor feedback. Tilt and viewing angles are pretty standard. The speakers are quite loud and clear and the display on the 13.3-inch high-res screen is brilliant, too. The right side of the laptop had minute heating, but that’s definitely not something to worry about. The heatsink is located at the back and hence there aren’t any visible heating issues with the laptop. We aren't big fans of manufacturers pre-loading notebooks with extra features as it just unnecessarily clutters the laptop. For those wanting more out of the laptop, it would be good to just remove the unnecessary software bundled inside.
As far as synthetic tests are concerned, the Vaio scored 6660 marks as compared to the TimelineX's 5898 marks. Performance-wise the scores are a tad better than Acer's TimelineX and here's a comparison chart for the synthetic tests we carried out between the Acer TimelineX and the Sony Vaio.
Average runtime for the laptop was around three hours ten minutes under speed mode. Battery life is certainly more than the other laptops as this one has a smaller screen size and hence you can get a lot more working hours on a single charge. Battery Eater pro gave a total runtime of 1.5 hours with the power set to 'Balanced' and the graphics mode set to 'Stamina'.
The Sony Vaio VPCSB16FG/L
The Sony Vaio VPCSB16FG/L is priced at Rs. 54,990 and comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium. We would've preferred an all-black design, but with the smaller screen size this laptop is definitely more portable than the 15.6-inchers. Vaio notebooks have always been priced higher than the other notebooks in the same range, and if you’re a Vaio fan wanting a portable laptop, this one’s a good buy. For others, we'd suggest the Acer TimelineX 5830TG as a cheaper alternative with similar specs.