Sony VAIO S13 review
A fast laptop with a dash of entertainment thrown in. Just beware its limited battery life
Review Date: 21 Dec 2010
Reviewed By: David Bayon
Price when reviewed: £894 (£1,050 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
In Sony's own words, the VAIO S Series "works hard, plays hard", which is sure to pique the interest of any student hoping to take this laptop home after a long day. The "work hard" is evident in a number of ways. For a start, it's well secured: there's a fingerprint reader to protect admin accounts, a TPM chip to aid encryption and a docking station connector.
Performance is superb: no matter what tasks you throw at it, the VAIO S13 should cope. The power stems from the 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-540M processor, and a hefty 6GB of DDR3 memory helps too. No wonder the S13 scored a healthy 1.57 in the PC Pro benchmarks.
Nvidia's GeForce 310M graphics can aid video decoding and encoding, but really come to the fore after hours. The S13 scored a solid 45fps in our Low quality Crysis benchmark at native resolution, so you should be able to increase settings and still play smoothly.
Sony tops off all that power with a 500GB hard disk and DVD writer, plus D-SUB and HDMI outputs for connecting to external displays and projectors. You also get Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, with support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. Sony also crams in a 3G modem, so you can connect to the internet wherever there's mobile phone reception.
The 13.3in glossy display has a 1,366 x 768 resolution. It's a little reflective under lights, but that gloss adds punch to the colours and gives it impressive brightness. Our only gripe is the cold tone to it all, which makes it less suitable for colour-accurate work.
Despite the S13's compact dimensions, the Scrabble-tile keyboard feels more spaced out than most, and Sony hasn't had to miniaturise any major keys. The typing action is smooth, but squeezing the base reveals a bit of bend above the optical drive, and the hinge sometimes creaks when you adjust it. It's not often we criticise the build quality of a VAIO, but the S13 isn't up there with the best.
Our other criticism is battery life, with the S13 lasting only 3hrs 44mins in our light-use test. That's a shame because at 1.98kg it's quite portable, and there's no disputing its many other strengths. But it's expensive, so make sure you'll use all that power before you buy.
Author: David Bayon
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