Sony VAIO VPCS11V9E/B review
Ergonomically excellent, powerful and with solid battery life, it's a business winner
Review Date: 12 Feb 2010
Reviewed By: David Bayon
Price when reviewed: £953 (£1,120 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Intel's innovation has allowed Sony to refresh several of its most popular families, and the VAIO S Series is no exception. Aimed at the business user who also likes a little entertainment here and there, the S11V9E is a tough but lightweight 13.3in laptop that also packs a discrete graphics chip.
The big step forward is the move to Intel's HM55 Express chipset and Core i5 processor. The Core i5-520M in this machine runs at 2.4GHz, with the Turbo Boost feature dynamically pushing either of the two cores up (to a maximum of 2.933GHz) or down depending on your needs. It's one of the new batch of 32nm processors, and supports Virtualisation Technology and Hyper-Threading.
Paired with 4GB of DDR3 memory, the VAIO S Series coasted through our application benchmarks with a score of 1.55 – just a fraction short of the 45nm Core i7-720QM inside the Dell Studio 15, which demonstrates just how advanced these latest CPUs are.
But speed isn't the only intended benefit. The 32nm Core i5s have a TDP of just 35W, and Sony has opted for a six-cell, 5,000mAh battery in the S11V9E, so we were hopeful of good battery life to go with that performance.
We had to disable Sony's Battery Saver option, which restricts the charge to 80% of capacity to prolong the battery's life – we'd rather get the extra 20% and take our chances in the long run – and without this limit, the Sony managed more than five hours in our light-use battery test, and 1hr 24mins under full load.
The latter figure is partly down to the more power-hungry GeForce 310M graphics chugging away – Sony hasn't made the graphics switchable, despite the latest Core i5 processors having Intel graphics built into the chip. It does give the Sony another dimension as an entertainment system – it effortlessly decodes HD video and managed an acceptable 56fps in our Low quality Crysis test – so it's perfect for a bit of light gaming after work.
Its a shame they can't provide a proper docking station for a machine that does so well in a business context. The USB port replicators are not a viable substitute. However good the machine, having to plug in 4 or five connectors every day is enough to put me off.
By CLCKMSS on 12 Feb 2010
I don't quite understand why this product is marketed by Sony as being a "business/executive" laptop?
I appreciate that the form factor of 13" lends itself to the business frame of mind. But there is a growing market for 13" portability at home.
By dpazz on 13 Feb 2010
I have this model and the screen has dreadful vertical viewing angles. You have to constantly adjust the position of the screen. An acceptable image is only available over a very limited angle. Placed next to my Samsung NC10 and Dell Studio XPS 13 (both with LED screens) and this machine is woeful. I'd view it in a shop before buying. You have to crank the brightness right up and this still doesnt overcome the problem. Surprised you didnt mentionthis in your review
By flossy on 15 Feb 2010
Great, apart from one major problem
I bought this model based on the review and experience with my previous Vaio. I find it a very good machine in almost every respect, apart from one shocking detail. The sound quality from the speakers is absolute rubbish! Not only that, the maximum volume is woefully low.
I find this shocking given that Sony is best known as a high-quality audio company. What I would like to know is who in Sony was responsible for signing off on the audio spec of this machine? One would assume that Sony would have stringent corporate requirements in this respect.
I am surprised this didn't come up in the review. I have verifed it is my machine.
Some might think I am being picky, but I assure you that it renders even simple things like a hands free Skype call and watching iPlayer or a DVD almost impossible. This is compared to the excellent sound of my previous Vaio.
If I had time I would have returned this unit, it is such a fundamental problem. It is such a great shame as this is otherwise a great product, and after all a premium-priced one at that.
Come on Sony - how could you let such a basic feature get through, one that you claim to be a world leader at. As it is, for me this is a very serious flaw in this product. I caution anyone to evaluate the sound before purchasing.
By Snobol4 on 7 Mar 2010
P.S> Great, apart from one major problem
I meant to say above that I have verified that this is NOT just a problem with my unit - I have checked other machines in Sony shops and they perform similarly. I have also tried other new model Vaios and they do not seem to suffer the same deficiency in speaker sound - for example, the new Z series (if you can afford it and fancy risking SSD!) has significantly better speaker sound
By Snobol4 on 7 Mar 2010
Hi, just taken delivery of this laptop and noticed there's quite a bit of play between the battery and case. Basically it moves and doesn't feel very secure even in the locked position. I've read that most Vaio's are like this. Could somebody confirm before I sent it back? Thanks,
By shot2bits on 1 Apr 2010
Excellent machine, few easily solved issues
@ shot2bits, my laptop also has the wiggly battery and it seems to be a common complaint on the forums. However a quick bit of electrical/duck tape inside the part of the case where the battery sits soon solved the problem for me.
@Snobol4, not had any issue with the speakers when listening to iPlayer.
The only sound issue I've had was with some distortion, seemed to occur randomly when under load, tried updating drivers via the vaio update software, no better. Then downloaded all the latest Realtek (http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/) drivers/software and all seems to work fine now.
@flossy not sure what laptop you're looking at, but screen seems really good to me. Admittedly I'm not comparing it to anything great. But compared to my old HP, it's equal if not better.
All in all I'm very happy with this machine. In both work mode (with a couple of Vitualbox machines running) and home/gaming mode Empire:TW, etc., I've had quite a smooth experience.
By stevenutt on 20 Apr 2010
Yup - the battery does rattle a little!
No doubt a pair of strategically placed foam pads will sort out the battery moving slightly. The somewhat mediocre speaker sound is countered by excellent sound via the headphone socket.
The overall quality is iced by the fingerprint reader - I didn't realise what it was at first!
By busb11 on 1 Jul 2010
S Series does have a docking station
@ CLCKMSS - thought I'd let you know (late, admittedly!) that there is one, which I ended up buying - VGP PRS10.CE - I agree that having a £1k+ laptop for business with no docking station would be rubbish!
By Morphic on 9 Aug 2010
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