Sony Vaio S series review

Full review:Incredible feature-packed ultraportable that crams in some Sandy Bridge power

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For

  • Sandy Bridge performance
  • Slender body
  • Long-lasting battery life

Against

  • The style isn't for everyone
  • Expensive
  • No Blu-ray

While Sony’s slick VAIO S Series is aimed at suited and booted professional types, it’s also a perfect travel companion for anyone who hits the road often and demands strong performance and usability from their laptop.

While Sony’s slick VAIO S Series is aimed at suited and booted professional types, it’s also a perfect travel companion for anyone who hits the road often and demands strong performance and usability from their laptop.

The 2011 version, the VAIO VPCSB1V9E (to give it its full name) won’t win any beauty competitions. The plain black design is rather dull, but at least the ultraportable chassis is reassuringly firm, with little in the way of flex. Best of all, it weighs a measly 1.8kg.

The piddly weight combined with the VAIO VPCSB1V9E ‘s slender 30mm body makes this a great laptop for slipping into a bag and taking on your commute. Sony has even found room for a DVD drive, a feature often missing from ultraportables.

Sony Vaio S Series: Screen

Frequent travellers will be pleased to hear that the VAIO VPCSB1V9E’s 13.3-inch display lacks a glossy Super-TFT finish, a cause of headache-inducing reflections when you’re working outside or in brightly lit environments. The matt finish prevents glare, and images are still vibrantly reproduced with excellent contrast.

Sony Vaio S Series: Performance

This may be a slender machine, but Sony somehow managed to cram in one of the latest Intel Sandy Bridge processors, a Core i5 2410M with a 2.3GHz clock speed. Running several applications at once is nowhere near an issue for the VAIO VPCSB1V9E. However, it does churn a little noisily at times, which is slightly disconcerting.

As if the powerful CPU wasn’t enough, Sony has also fitted an AMD Radeon HD 6470M graphics card, perfect if you’re planning on editing your photos or videos. You can even sate your bloodlust with a little gaming action, but you’ll have to crank down the detail settings on anything even remotely recent.

Sony Vaio S Series: Ease of use

Despite the impressive performance, the VAIO VPCSB1V9E’s battery lasted an impressive 288 minutes. Sony has also built in a simple ‘stamina/speed’ switch – flick to ‘stamina’ and the laptop automatically extends battery life, at the expense of some processing and graphical power.

The backlit keyboard is truly excellent. Each key is well sized and separated from its neighbours to provide a comfortable touch-typing experience. You also get the usual VAIO, Web and Assist buttons, which are shortcuts for accessing the internet and your media, and diagnosing any dodgy issues.

We also liked the VAIO VPCSB1V9E’s spacious touchpad, and there’s a tiny fingerprint scanner housed between the mouse buttons. This prevents any criminal types from stealing your confidential data, and proves a good alternative to annoying hard-to-remember passwords. A 500GB hard drive provides plenty of space for your media and files.

If you like wasting time online, the 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet connections give you speedy access to wireless and wired networks respectively. You get plenty of ports too, including VGA and HDMI to hook up external displays, and USB 2.0 and 3.0 for peripherals.

Sony Vaio S Series: Verdict

If you’re after something that magically combines excellent performance with strong portability, and throws in a few great features for good measure, then the VAIO VPCSB1V9E is the laptop for you. Priced at just under a grand, if you can afford it, go for it.

Sony Vaio S Series launch date: Out now from John Lewis, link Sony

Sony Vaio S Series price: £999