Design, Build, Usability and Connectivity
Few companies have as much stake in making 3D the standard in your home as Sony. It's added the unique 3D Sweep Panorama feature to its latest Cyber-shot WX5, offers Full HD stereoscopic 3D in its projectors (like the VPL-VW90ES) and TVs (such as the Bravia NX713), and of course there's 3D gaming courtesy of the ever-evolving PlayStation 3. Now its laptops are joining the fray, with the latest revision of the company's high-performance VAIO F Series bringing a class-leading 240Hz, Full HD 3D screen to the table. Additionally sporting a unique design and the latest in specifications and technology, it's bursting with potential.
The laptop's figure is unapologetically bulky, which is no surprise as it comes from the same designer who brought us the monolithic design of Sony's high-end Bravia TVs. While not nearly as slim as many other multimedia laptops, the F Series does offer sleek lines and aggressive angles, giving a streamlined, attractive impression.
Build quality felt excellent throughout, with solid plastics. Unfortunately, the glossy black lid and keyboard surround pick up more fingerprints than a forensics team, so the F Series is quite high-maintenance. Thankfully, Sony has opted for a raised, soft-touch palm rest that not only helps the laptop maintain its unique aesthetic but also prevents greasy palm marks and makes typing very comfortable.
This is helped by one of the better isolation/chiclet keyboards we've come across, with well-spaced keys offering surprisingly deep feedback and positive action. Thanks to an adjustable light sensor, the keyboard is automatically backlit in white when in a dark environment, really adding to the premium feel.
The raised palm-rest incorporates a neatly integrated multi-touch touchpad, and though we're not overly fond of its slightly rough textured surface, it is large and responsive. Its buttons, integrated into a single rocker switch, offer a good click but do have a small yet noticeable dead zone.
Connectivity is top-notch, giving you two USB 3.0 ports in addition to the more usual selection of ports, and wireless duties are handled by Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 3.0.