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Sony VAIO F12 MOE/B review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

We've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Sony's VAIO laptops over the years, really liking the high-end Sony VAIO Z Series, while cheaper efforts such as the VGN-NS30E/S left us completely unimpressed. Coming in at well over £1,000, we're hoping the company's new F12 falls into the former category.

Just like the Z-series, the F12 packs a boatload of impressive specifications, but rather than cramming them into as small a chassis as possible, this 16.4in laptop - measuring 263 x 41 x 387mm and weighing 3.1kg - sits firmly in the desktop replacement category. Gamers aside, it has plenty of power to be most consumers' primary machine. At its heart is an impressive 1.73GHz 740QM Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU which turbo-clocks to 2.93GHz. This is backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM, which is as much as most users will need and plenty for the supplied 64-bit Windows 7 Premium to be happy with.

For storage there's a generous 500GB hard drive that spins at a speedy 7,200rpm, while optical duties are handled by a Blu-ray drive. Combined with the screen's 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics card, this makes for a very capable multimedia machine that should also have a modicum of gaming ability.

Connectivity is also well up to speed. For wireless duties we have Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 2.1, with the always-appreciated addition of a physical wireless switch. There are three USB 2.0 ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA connector. Then there's a four-pin mini FireWire port, which is becoming quite the rarity these days.

Other data ports, including USB 3.0, can be added through the laptop's 34mm ExpressCard slot, while two separate memory card readers take Sony's proprietary MS Pro and the more common SD/MMC card formats. Finally for video we have HDMI and analogue VGA, while audio is handled by 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, the former of which doubles as an optical digital output.

When it comes to design, as usual Sony offers something a little different from the norm. For one, we're glad to find that the F12's lid features a semi-matt finish that's far more resistant to fingerprints than the glossy alternatives found on many competitors, though it can't hold a candle to the brushed metal finish of the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G, which in its cheaper configuration costs around the same as this Sony.

Inside, the look is almost identical to that of the Y-Series – albeit gunmetal instead of silver – but, if it ain't broke… The screen's bezel and keyboard-surround feature the same smooth semi-matt finish as the lid, while the palm rests have a micro-tile textured pattern that prevents sweaty hands from slipping and does a good job disguising grease-marks. Sony's signature green-backlit power button is also present.

meeto 0

August 27, 2010, 12:50 am

I have a custom model which I bought through sony's website. If you look online occasionally sony offer a free bluray writer which is what I got. My only regret is not paying for the faster hard drive or better still the SSD drive.





I love the minimalist design and have no problem with the keyboard but I could not agree more with the comments regarding the trackpad. I will often write something and my sentence will end up being broken because of the pad reacting to my palms. Its really annoying.





I love the number pad for Photo shop. And the speakers are good too.


As for creaking my only concern is with the underneath where the drive is.

StuartH

August 27, 2010, 3:11 am

Twice in the review and in the feature table it says that the HDD is 7200 rpm but on the official Sony website the VPCF12M0E/B is clearly descibed as having a 5400 rpm HDD.

StuartH

August 27, 2010, 3:15 am

I really interested in this laptop. Can I ask a couple of questions?


How easy is it to see the text in web broswers or Word with the full HD resolution on a 16.4 screen?


How loud is the laptop? Is the noise offputting?

ffrankmccaffery

August 27, 2010, 8:35 am

Nice to see the power and ethernet ports on the same side. Although the rear would be more preferable it still hinders the laptop a lot less.

Carlos

August 27, 2010, 8:17 pm

How can you give this a value score of 8/10, when you gave the acer aspire 5553G 6/10?





Lets look at the facts:





According to you PCMark results, this sony is on average, 18.68% faster than the acer. So if we say the acer "scores" 100 and the sony 118.7 then the price to performance figures (lower = worse) are as follows:





Acer 100/£600 = 0.0983


Sony 118/£1200 = 0.103





so in actual fact, based on current prices, the acer 5553g is 69.5% better value. So how do you translate this as being worse value than the sony?

Nicholas Phan

August 28, 2010, 4:34 pm

@Carlos





That's not a fair way to calculate value at all. There is always diminishing returns to price, and especially so when it comes to technology and computing power. For example the most expensive CPU chip may be much more expensive than the second most expensive, however the performance difference is not that much.

Carlos

August 29, 2010, 9:52 pm

@Nicholas





Its perfectly fair to calculate value based on price/performance ratio. Thats how the value of cpus and graphics cards are calculated in most reviews. Its common knowledge that the high end cpus are not good value.





For example, I doubt there are many people in the world who would call the most expensive core i7 excellent value, because it isn't. It has excellent performance, but its terrible value in terms of the price you pay for that performance.





If you are going to give value a score, it must be based on facts, or the score is meaningless, and the best way to go about this is to base it on price/performance ratio, or bang for buck if you're stateside.

Stewart

August 30, 2010, 6:31 pm

@Carlos





Who said value is purely based on performance?


For a media oriented machine I would certainly 'value' the larger screen, the higher screen resolution and the overall better performance of the Sony screen. I would also 'value' the Blu-Ray drive, the better keyboard, Bluetooth, a physical wireless switch etc....





Ultimately though, the 'value' score is subjective (as are the other scores). I don't think you should get hung up on the headline scores.


If performance is important to you there's enouth information in both reviews to at least let you know which laptop you might want to consider and the features you might value.

Stewart

August 30, 2010, 6:31 pm

@Carlos





Who said value is purely based on performance?


For a media oriented machine I would certainly 'value' the larger screen, the higher screen resolution and the overall better performance of the Sony screen. I would also 'value' the Blu-Ray drive, the better keyboard, Bluetooth, a physical wireless switch etc....





Ultimately though, the 'value' score is subjective (as are the other scores). I don't think you should get hung up on the headline scores.


If performance is important to you there's enouth information in both reviews to at least let you know which laptop you might want to consider and the features you might value.

StuartH

August 31, 2010, 3:04 am

It seems that the only problem with this laptop is the noise that this, and some other reviews, have mentioned. How does thte noise-level compare to other equivalent laptops?

TechVegan

September 1, 2010, 7:32 pm

@meet_0:


Thanks for your comment and feedback!





@StuartH:


It would appear some of the models being sold through 3rd party retailers, such as the model sold by play, have faster hard drives.


As to your questions, text is perfectly legible though you need good eyesight. You can always zoom in a little or increase the default fonts size, so there's no real downside.





As to noise, as mentioned it can be off-putting, but then I prefer my PCs virtually silent - it might not bother you and is certainly not dramatic. However, a larger chassis like that of the http://www.trustedreviews.com/... is quieter despite hotter components, and I'd say the Sony is slightly noisier than some of the more immediate competition.





@Carlos:


Stewart has made all my points for me twice over - thanks Stewart :)

StuartH

September 3, 2010, 4:49 am

Thanks for your feedback Ardjuna. Can I be a pain and ask another question?


On the Sony site you can down-spec to a i5-450M - would having a less powerfull processor reduce the noise? I would also consider an SSD.

BobaFett

December 10, 2010, 8:13 pm

A colleague at work just bought one of these but discovered that it can't power his 27" Dell screen at its native resolution of 2560x1440, as it only has a VGA port and does not operate at the higher frequencies enabled by HDMI 1.3. This is despite the NVidia GPU being capable of supporting this resolution and appears to be a limitation that's common across all current VAIOs.

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