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Sony VAIO S - AV, Specs and Performance

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


With a standard 1,366 x 768 resolution and semi-matt finish, the VAIO S's screen holds up quite well. It's nicely integrated and evenly backlit, with no sign of light bleed. Viewing angles are merely decent, with horizontal viewing angles being as atrocious as ever some noticeable contrast shift when getting to the edges horizontally. However, while it doesn't match up to the Samsung Series 9 or IPS-sporting ThinkPad X1, it's certainly no worse than most laptop screens in this regard.

Contrast is above average, if not quite up there with the best. This Sony maintained decent dark detailing along with pure whites, but did struggle to distinguish the two darkest shades in our greyscale test. In other respects the display put in a flawless performance, with no noticeable banding or other artefacts and perfect sharpness.

Unfortunately, the speakers don't hold up well at all. In fact, they're the worst we've come across on an ultraportable in a while. They distort even when not at their already unimpressive maximum volume, generally lack clarity and depth, and as for bass – you'd probably get more out of a piccolo.

Sony allows quite a bit of flexibility in its configurations of the SB, so you can get choose to get either a Core i3 or Core i5 model (if you desire a Core i7, you'll need to opt for the more expensive SA Series). For an average daily workload, the cheapest Core i3 ought to do you, but if you want Turbo clocking the cheaper Core i5 is only £40 extra over the base spec. That gets you a Core i5-2410M running at 2.3GHz, which can clock up to 2.9GHz if just one core is in use and is also the CPU found on our test sample. It will easily handle most tasks.


It's backed by 4GB or RAM, and you can upgrade to a whole 8GB for a very reasonable £60. Likewise, the 500GB hard drive can be upgraded all the way up to a 750GB model, though regardless it will run at a relatively slow 5,400rpm. If you want speed here, there's a 128GB SSD upgrade available for a wallet-crunching £340, making it well worth trying this upgrade yourself.

One of the features that gives this 13.3in laptop an edge over many more expensive rivals is its dedicated graphics. No matter which configuration of the SB you get, it will have an AMD Radeon HD6470M with 512MB of dedicated memory. While this is hardly a cutting-edge gaming chip, it sure beats the hell out of Intel's integrated HD3000, and will do nicely for casual or undemanding games. Just remember to have that aforementioned 'power-plan switch' on Speed rather than Stamina – as you can see from the below graph, it makes a significant difference.

Also, the HD6470M really is only for light gaming, as its limitations are felt whenever trying to run an even slightly ambitious game. In Stalker: Call of Pripyat, for example, it only managed a practically unplayable 23.7 frames per second - and that was at Medium Detail and a resolution of 1,280 x 720 (lower than the laptop's native screen rez).


As seems to be becoming standard, the nicely-integrated webcam is of the HD variety, making for nice, crisp video calls. Running it all, meanwhile, is a 64-bit version of Windows Home Premium. Sony offers upgrades to Professional or Ultimate on its website, but once again prohibitive prices mean you're better off doing it yourself afterwards. One neat little customisation is Sony's customisable XMB-like media bar, giving Windows a hint of Mac OS.

Chris Hamer

July 28, 2011, 4:40 am

"However, in Stamina mode you might get closer than we did." So you ran the battery test in speed mode? That is quite unfair tbh! Considering you put this against others without having to run a ATI chip. If you did run it in speed mode and achieved 5 hours that is remarkable! Considering sony states in speed mode the battery should last 3.5 hours and stamina 7.5 hours!
At the bottom of the page under primary battery.
When i ran the SA (love it, replacing my thinkpad!) in stamina mode with 50-60% brightness with the extended battery i was predicted over 12 hours with battery bar. Another way is to limit the CPU to 50% of it's power consumption on battery. Also with the fans making a noise did you check the vaio control panel to have the fan's in balanced mode?
Thought I would post my comments after purchasing the SA!


July 28, 2011, 8:36 pm

I'd be interested in seeing the results of the battery tests in stamina mode, too. If it's one of the things preventing an award, it would surely make a big difference?


August 2, 2011, 2:09 am

Review should have used stamina mode for battery test. Otherwise, a helpful review. Disapointed to hear there is no mic input.

@Chris, I'd be interested to know how long your SA is able to last in stamina mode with light use and without the battery slice. Also, are you getting excessive noise under load.


August 2, 2011, 2:12 am

Also, what is the effect of the battery slice on weight and dimensions?

Chris Hamer

August 3, 2011, 5:30 pm

@ Ozaz
Ill try and do a battery test for you soon!
I done some measurements to compare to the laptop this is replacing!
Power Supply: 400g
Battery Slice: 500g
Laptop: 1600g (With HDD)
Total: 2500g


August 6, 2011, 6:39 pm

Thanks for the info on the weight. No need to bother with the battery test. I've been reading a few other reviews and user comments and the consistent picture is that the built in battery is good for about 6.5 hours during real-world light use with WLAN on and stamina mode on.


August 16, 2011, 2:31 pm

@Chris and all:
Sorry for the tardy comment, I had submitted one before but it must have gotten lost in the great data tides.
No, I did NOT run the battery test in Speed mode - nor in Stamina mode, but on the same settings as every other laptop, hence keeping it fair.

Glad you found it helpful. We used custom battery-test settings to keep it on even footing with rivals.


August 16, 2011, 4:37 pm

How did you run it in neither speed mode nor stamina mode? Isn't the hardware switch a 2-level switch which can only be set to either speed or stamina?

IMO, battery tests should use the power saving features of the laptop as efficient battery usage modes would be a good reason for buying a laptop.


February 1, 2012, 3:19 pm

DUAL MONITORS - a warning. I read the specifications, saw it had VGA and HDMI outputs and got one for work. Guess what? It doesn't support dual monitors from both outputs. That is official from Sony technical support. Such a basic function from a laptop aimed partially at business and one with a dedicated ATI GPU as well. All my previous laptops which cost half this has this feature. I'm really surprised this isn't picked up in any review.


July 31, 2012, 4:00 pm

The sound and the speakers needed to be improved and it will be a great business laptop.

Mackenzie Gorman

April 23, 2014, 5:24 pm

I bought this computer because I am a student and thought it would be a great laptop to get me through school....boy was I wrong. This is actually the worst computer I have ever heard of. I have only had it for just under three years and I will need to get a new one in a couple weeks. I would like to point out that I DO take GREAT care of all of my electronics, but for whatever reason my vaio has decided to chack out. The first year after I purchased it I had to replace the hard drive because it crashed on me. After I did that I needed to purchase another firewall and protection program as myone time use had been on the other hard drive. So far that is the cost of the laptop (which was not cheap) plus another $250 for the hard drive and premium protection. Now I need to get a new computer because this obe has completely died. First the screen would take longer to load than normal, and today it just completely shut down and I cannot get it to turn back on no matter what I do. Sorry, but this comouter is a piece of crap and I would NOT recommend it AT ALL. Your money is better spent on something different.

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