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Sony VAIO S 15 (2012)

Ardjuna Seghers



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Sony VAIO S 15 Closed
  • Sony VAIO S 15 Closed
  • Sony VAIO S 15 keyboard
  • Sony VAIO S 15 connectivity left
  • Sony VAIO S 15 Open
  • Sony VAIO S 15 connectivity right
  • Sony VAIO S 15 Touchpad


User Score:

Key Features

  • Silver aluminium body
  • 15.5in, 1920 x 1080 IPS screen
  • Dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT640M graphics
  • Core i3-i7, 4-8GB RAM, hybrid/pure SSD storage
  • Up to 14 hours battery life
  • Blue-backlit keyboard
  • Slot-loading DVD/Blu-ray drive
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: to be confirmed

We’ve already looked at the 13in VAIO S in Sony’s laptop stable, but what about the 15in version? It keeps the same premium aluminium body, flexible configuration options and great features, but throws a 1080p IPS screen into the mix to make for a slim, attractive 15in laptop bursting with appeal and potential.

Sony VAIO S 15 Open

Where design is concerned, if anything it’s even more attractive than its smaller 13in cousins. It’s not available in black or white, but rather comes in silver, really showing off its metal chassis. Its keyboard is flawlessly integrated, and its aqua keyboard backlighting is a great visual touch. Were it not for the confusion of buttons and indicators above its keyboard it would easily outclass the Samsung Series 7 Chronos 700Z5A.

Sony VAIO S 15 connectivity left

Build quality is also superior to its smaller counterparts, as the lid feels more solid. The entire machine is relatively thin and undeniably sleek, and remaining under 2kg it’s very portable for what it packs in. Sony has gone for a slot-loading optical drive by default to maintain the S15’s slim lines, and this can be upgraded to a Blu-ray drive – unlike many slot-loading laptops, such as the aforementioned Chronos or the Dell XPS 15z, that don’t offer an HD disc player upgrade.

Sony VAIO S 15 connectivity right

Connectivity is what you would expect from a premium 15in laptop, with headphone and microphone jacks on the left while the right houses twin memory card readers for SD and HG Duo, a Gigabit Ethernet port, VGA and HDMI for video, and twin USB 3.0 ports for hooking up fast external devices plus a single always-on USB 2.0 port for charging. On the wireless side of things we have Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4. The VAIO S 15in also shares the 13in model’s physical power mode switch, HD webcam, and fingerprint reader for those who hate remembering passwords.

Sony VAIO S 15 keyboard

This 15in VAIO’s keyboard sports a full number pad, and typing on the large, well-spaced keys is generally a pleasure. Feedback is good with decent travel, though we couldn’t test the huge trackpad as the machine did not have an OS installed. This also made the screen difficult to assess, but we reckon it’s a pretty safe bet that an IPS panel with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 crammed into a 15.5in display is going to be an absolute winner.

Sony VAIO S 15 Touchpad

Like the VAIO S13, specifications are fully configurable, with a choice of Intel processors, up to 8GB of RAM, and a choice of SSD, hybrid or pure HDD storage up to 1TB. An Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE provides dedicated graphics that should give you a bit of gaming leeway.

Sony VAIO S 15 Closed

There’s more competition in the 15in market, but Sony appears to be staying ahead of the curve with the same great 15in 1080p IPS option offered on last year’s model. That by itself makes the VAIO S15 an interesting proposition, and when you throw in its other features we can’t wait to get it into our lab.


May 22, 2012, 5:12 pm

There seem to be quite a few "Hands-on" previews in the Reviews section lately - this machine looks great, any ideas when it'll be in the lab for a full review? What is the likely price range? £1500?

I had been thinking to look at the Samsung 9 series ultrabook or Macbook Air when the Ivy Bridge updates come around, but this isn't exactly a lot bulkier for a jump up in screen size and power!


May 22, 2012, 7:39 pm

Yep, we've had some hands-on time with Sony's entire new laptop line-up and of course brought you all our impressions. As the S is fully configurable, the price will really depend on what options you select. A current-gen Series S 15in with Core i5 and 1080p screen will set you back around £700, so we reckon you'll be able to get this model for under £1000.

TBH I would wait until all the major players have refreshed their lines before making your choice, but if I had to buy a 15in laptop right now this Sony would defo be near the top of my list.


May 22, 2012, 8:18 pm

It's me again!^^

I'm really happy that you can do a review of the 15" cause it's the one which is interesting me.
When a full review will be available approximately?
I suppose that the black color will be available when it comes out, no? Cause I'm a bit done with silver since I use an MBP^^


May 23, 2012, 3:19 am

Thanks Ardjuna. I think I can afford to wait until everyone's refreshed their product range. I would love a Macbook Pro purely on looks and build, but it seems a lot of money to pay for the internals, even though they are high quality machines. Plus I don't want to be one of *those* guys sitting in Starbucks with a Mac so that everyone can see I've got a Mac.... :o) Sony and Samsung seem to be doing good things lately (the Samsung 900X3B is a nice little machine, looking forward to seeing the Ivy Bridge refresh and wondering if we'll get the 15" version that they have in the states!). If the Ivy Bridge versions features enough graphics grunt for light gaming, that would be great news!

sam 1

May 23, 2012, 6:08 am

This laptop appears to have the perfect specs for me, but as is the case with several Sony laptops that I have played with, they all run very hot and as a result have unbearably loud fan noise.

If TR happen to review this (or future Sony laptops) please could you confirm the loudness of the fan, and whether it is possible to disable (as is the case with the Samsung Chronos).. and put out a suggestion that they resolve this.


June 22, 2012, 8:02 pm

@ Ardjuna & the TR Guys...should you be checking this page still...

Just specced one of these up on the Sony site:

i7-3612QM 2.1GHz Ivy Bridge processor
512GB (a £975 upgrade!)
nvidia GT640M 2GB
Blu-Ray writer...

......came to £2,334

I realise that the 512GB SSD is a big portion of that. What is with them charging such an amount - I've found similar sized devices (SATA III) for £400-£500.

At that price you're talking competing with Macbook Pro with Retina, but not quite as slim or well built, with a slower CPU, lower-spec graphics card. OK it has an optical drive (not sure that's needed). But that SSD upgrade makes it astronomical. And there isn't even an option for a processor which matches the minimum found in the MBPwR range (the i7-3615QM).

The Sony appears to come off second best at that cost, apart from being native Windows 7 (for the gamers among us).

Do we know if the drive bay is a standard 2.5" SATA III interface? Getting it with a HDD and replacing with an SSD would definitely make more sense than buying an SSD from Sony - someone in their pricing department needs to go and have a think about being competitive!

Either way...still a bit podgy compared to the Apple, having played around with one of those in store, they are rather nice. This Sony looks nice, just not quite nice enough to justify £2300. Awaiting your review....


June 29, 2012, 2:33 am

When are you doing a full review of this? I am very interested. Pity that Sony is charging such a fortune for the SSD upgrade. £475 upgrade for a 256gb SSD? A Crucial C400 only costs £160 or so - what sort of margin is that?

A pity as it might stop me buying one.


July 26, 2012, 4:02 pm

I am very keen to read a full review. I have been looking for a new laptop since last year when I bought - and returned - a Samsung Chronos - lovely except for the wrist-slicing edge and the rather dull screen and awful connectivity via WiFi. I got to the point of configuring a custom-built S15 on Sony's site and was stumped because they had no silver chassis left and I now have a wait until they restock. In the meantime I found some shocking reviews that I hadn't seen before stating - and showing - that the IPS screen appears to be incapable of rendering Reds and Purples, showing them instead as Oranges and Blues. Now I am utterly distraught because I am happy to pay a premium for a good 15" laptop, and to find out that the screen is a disaster (the word used on some of the comments I've read) is awful - I've always rated Sony displays very highly. But correct colour reproduction is important and apparently no amount of calibration will correct this problem. I'd be very interested to see your test results, and also any alternative suggestions!! The ability to spec up this machine to give me what I want was perfect, and I just don't know where to turn next if this one is not going to work for me. £1400 for laptop with a very dodgy display is not an attractive prospect!


July 31, 2012, 10:11 pm

Further to my first comment - I had a good look at the S15 today, side by side with the S13 - the colour representation is vastly different. When looking at a site (Netflix) showing perfect red, the S13 is clearly red, the S15 is a horrible dull orange - nowhere near red. The customer comments I have read all say it is impossible to calibrate to red. So I phoned Sony to try and find out if this could possibly be a dud batch of panels, in the hope that if I wait a while I might be able to get one with a good panel (apparently the same LG panel is used in the HP Envy which has the same problem). The chap at Sony told me they haven't had any complaints or comments and know nothing about this problem, and tried to tell me that if I am speccing up the machine to an i7, and putting in a graphics card it should improve the colour!! Seems to me that he didn't really understand that this appears to be an inherent problem in the capability of the panel which will not be affected by a graphics card. Please please can you test this problem when you do a full review of this laptop - I am desperate for a good 15" and I just despair if this does not get resolved. Do you have access to techy people at Sony who might know anything about this?


October 11, 2012, 1:51 am

There are few pages reviewing this machine and as a new owner I thought I'd give some feedback on my recent purchase.
I've always bought top end laptops and had a couple of vaios before so gave Sony the benefit of the doubt after really good service in the past. Had this device about a week now and have to say I'm really impressed.
Went for the top spec available except I economised on 256ssd as opposed to the 512.
Use a WD Passport terabyte drive instead - perfect combo in my opinion and much cheaper!
No real complaints at all so far - this is a sweeeeeeeet machine. Loving:
the unbelievable light weight,
screen quality,
noise (or lack of it - seriously - don't get concerned about fan noise...it's almost inaudible)
Battery life - with stamina option (really useful!!)
Performance surpasses my I7 desktop but SSD has something to do with this.
excellent trackpad

Where Sony could improve:
Keyboard is a bit bouncy but acceptable. More strength would no doubt = more weight so a trade off there.
Keyboard backlighting - it maybe my height but my viewing angle doesn't allow me to see the keys properly. I'm short though and maybe if your taller than 5' 6" this might not be a problem.

Bar those minor issues and if you have the money, a good investment... so far......
Will post again after a month of hard use!!

Thien Duong

February 2, 2013, 3:44 am

Yep, I also bough one Samsung Series 7 Chronos, I am planning to return it to get sony vaio s 15.5

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