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Sony VAIO VGN-NS20E/S - 15.4in Laptop review

Ardjuna Seghers




Our Score:


As anyone who read the Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/W review will know, we were none too impressed with the last Sony laptop to pass through our doors. So it was with mixed feelings that we opened up the box of its NS20E/S, especially since at a measly £475 it's the cheapest Sony notebook we've reviewed.

Thankfully, initial impressions are very positive. Sporting a similar uniquely-textured finish as the NR21Z we reviewed last year, this silver laptop not only looks good in a chunky sort of way (no tapered edges here) but is also far more resistant to scratches than most with plastic finishes and of course doesn't pick up fingerprints at all.

Opening the NS20 up, the textured look continues on the laptop's lower half, though the screen bezel is smooth. Those who hate reflective bezels will be glad with the semi-matte finish, though unfortunately the screen itself makes up for it by doubling as a mirror.

Aside from one loose hinge-housing and a tad of flex if pressing down hard on the palm rest or the centre of the lid, the overall build quality is good - certainly a measure above some of the budget brands out there..

This quality extends to the tile-style keyboard, which is excellent. Keys have a nice amount of travel, a positive action and their shallow, flat profile is pleasant to type on. We had no problems with the layout either, leaving just a hint of flex as the only meaningful complaint here.

Likewise, the touchpad is first-rate. It is large, responsive and its smooth matte surface is easily differentiated from its textured surroundings. Its chromed touchpad buttons offer just the right amount of feedback and their flat profile prevents them from being slippery.

Above the keyboard is an unobtrusive speaker grille, below which are two physical shortcut buttons, a rarity in these touch-sensitive days. The first sensibly mutes the volume, while the second, marked 'AV Mode', calls up an XMB-like interface giving easy access to multimedia, Internet, the laptop's webcam and Skype - all simple to access in other ways, but some might prefer to use this.


June 17, 2009, 8:16 am

Why is it you have to buy a more premium laptop so you aren't lumbered with a blobby, big boned, fisher price device?? They must deliberately make these low end models less attractive than the other ones. I'm sure they could sleek up these products.


June 17, 2009, 1:20 pm


Obvious answer - they want you to pay more to get more.


June 17, 2009, 2:00 pm

There are certainly ways they could sleek it up a bit but not very much without adding to the cost.


June 17, 2009, 2:32 pm


To be honest, most of us in the office rather liked the design. It's not sleek, but doesn't feel particularly chunky, and is FAR more rugged than most - how good is that glossy designer laptop going to look after three months' use with scratches and fingerprints all over it?


June 17, 2009, 3:45 pm

Ive got the VGN-NS11J/S of this series, i got it for £600 with a 2 year warrenty from john lewis and I love it. Granted however since i bought it more powerful laptops have come out for the price but hay thats just technology going out of date fast as usual.

Dave 13

June 18, 2009, 3:52 pm

I never really liked Sony's budget models, my advice is to get the cheapest version of their premium line you can get.

Back in December I got my dad an FW11E for £580. The best thing is I picked it up in Argos, LOL.

Nicholas Phan

June 19, 2009, 7:57 am

The NS sounds great! But looks like it just got replaced by the NW. The NW looks and sounds fantastic! And has great value too!



June 20, 2009, 10:31 pm

Do Sony still fill their machines with buggy bloatware and inappropriate software? The last Sony portable I owned (some years back) even had SQL Server running on it, grabbing 5% CPU now and again. Why? Who knows, but took days to dig it all out and remove it.

Paul N

January 26, 2010, 12:34 am

I have had one of these for nearly a year and agree with the above review, but am now experiencing one annoying fault -- the L key is malfunctioning. It has to be hit hard to produce a character.

The strange thing is that this seems ony to happen in Internet Explorer and Outlook -- not, for example, in NotePad. I suspect therefore that it's a software problem connected with processing time, as opposed to a poor quality key.


February 24, 2010, 2:43 pm

hi i went onto my vaio recovery centre and did a factory restore but now its saying "windows couls not complete the installation. to install windows on this computer restart the installation" so i clicked ok and it does the same thing over and over again. i also have vaio recovery discs which i bought a while ago but i can use them as i cant see anything on my laptop screen as its broke so ive been connecting it to a monitor. can someone please help me on what to do thanks x


April 11, 2014, 10:13 pm

I brought my one 5 years ago and it's still going - not as well anymore but I've had serious use out of it and it's been brilliant. Trying to decide what to go for next as a lot of the latest laptops look plasticy - I really like the silver bevel finish on the NS. I'll definately be sticking with Sony though as this was really reliable and no issues in the first 3-4 years I've owned it.

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