Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/S - 15.5in Laptop - Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/S

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Typically Sony is just a little more parsimonious (read stingy) than most when it comes to connectivity. To an extent this is true of the NW Series, for instance there's no eSATA and none of the USB ports are ‘sleep & charge' enabled, but overall it serves up all the things most people will need and a few they probably won't. This list includes three USB ports, VGA and HDMI for video, a mini-FireWire port, a 34mm ExpressCard slot and (on the front) memory card slots of Sony's propriety formats and the more common SD format. One unusual addition is a modem connection (just in case), though you get just the two audio jacks - one line-in, one line-out.

As we noted earlier, the Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 in the NW11 isn't at the bleeding-edge of Intel's processor range (as the comparison to the Dell Studio 1555 demonstrates), but it's still a very capable performer, scoring over 3,000 in PCMark Vantage. That's a good score for any laptop in this price range and in real-world use any productivity, image editing and multimedia tasks you throw at it should be dealt with smoothly. This includes high-definition video, though editing HD camcorder footage - while still possible - will prove more challenging. Gaming performance is good (particularly for the price), though that's only true of mid-tier titles - the most recent and demanding games will still require significant compromise.

This decent performance is made all the more impressive by the battery life on offer. While the six-cell, 4,400mAh capacity battery isn't a whopper by modern standards, it delivered precisely four hours of use in MobileMark 2007's Productivity segment - extending to an impressive four hours and 34 minutes in the low intensity Reader test. Both these results surpassed the Dell Studio 1555 we reviewed recently, though in the DVD playback test it fell behind with a still creditable two hours and 32 minutes. Given this test is run at 100 per cent screen brightness, reducing this a little will give you enough life to watch most films.

This completes a generally impressive performance from the NW11S. It's not without its faults, it could do with better speakers and an eSATA port wouldn't hurt, but it's fundamentally a very good laptop made all the better by its hard wearing, non-glossy exterior. If you can stretch to it then the Dell Studio 1555, which is more expensive sans its current discounted pricing, is still marginally the better machine, but if not then this will do the job nicely.

Verdict

It's not quite perfect, but the NW11S is easily the best mainstream laptop Sony has produced in a long while. It has a nicely balanced specification and feature set, is reasonably priced and won't attract the dust, grease and grime so prevalent on laptops these days.

Simon Treacy

August 19, 2009, 9:32 pm

I bought one of these on Saturday for my son's forthcoming 18th. His is the 'tan' coloured version, which I thought would look a bit odd, but I have to say it's more of a bronze colour and looks really very smart. It works very well, but we haven't managed to get the rapid internet access to work at all. I paid £615 inc VAT for it from Tronix Computers (http://www.tronixcomputers.com..., though it was at a computer fair so I paid a lot less than indicated on their web site. It's worth mentioning I think that it currently comes with a free upgrade to Windows 7 under the Vaio rollout programme, for which you have to register. Angles of view are perfectly OK - who buys a 15.5" laptop for viewing from the side? personally, I'd rather the guy next to me can't see what I am working on on the train! You don't get the option to install Vista 64bit, so I guess you can't use all the Ram unless things change under Windows 7 (I don't think they will). The main thing though is that my son is delighted with it - quality is hugely better than his old Acer, and although it may not play the very latest games at top settings, it is hugely capable. I too would have liked to see an eSATA port, but USB2 is perfectly good for most things. Very happy bunny!

Steve Cooke

October 23, 2009, 4:48 pm

I've just purchased the VAIO VGN-NW11S/S, partly on the strength of this review. It's pretty good generally, but there are a couple of annoyances.





The first annoyance is the location of the USB ports. The two on the right-hand side are placed next to where any right-handed person would naturally use their mouse. With USB cabling attached to one or both of these ports, you have to operate the mouse some distance away from the computer itself, which is very awkward if space is limited. The situation is no better on the left-handers, as the single USB port provided there is in the equivalent position. Surely, these would be better placed towards the top of the sides or at the back, where they're less likely to get in the way.





The second annoyance is that neither of the two right-side USB ports appear to provide sufficient bus power for the external hard drive I want to use with it. Curiously, the left-sided port does provide enough power. There's no mention of the specification being different in the manual, however.

Ben 12

November 11, 2009, 4:27 pm

Agree with the above!





Just bought the Vaio two weeks ago and love the silky smoothness of it, but I do miss my 4 USB ports on one side of my old laptop.





Another annoyance is the inconsistency in the volume levels for the chassy speakers. One music track played through WMPlayer can be heard across the room, but a DVD is virtually inaudible if a kettle is running on the back-ground. Could be a tweak in my settings, but havent discovered a workaround just yet.





will be installing Win7 later this week, so hopefully no other hiccups shall arise (fingers crossed)

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