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

Andy Vandervell



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


Our Score:


It's easy to get excited when Sony delivers one of its many super-expensive ultra-portables, like the VAIO TT or Z Series, to our door, but in the past its mainstream laptops have been a little hit and miss. For all the lustre and acclaim its VAIO brand engenders in consumers, the reality isn't always the all singing, all dancing computing experience people imagine. However, in the new NW Series, we reckon Sony might have finally cracked the mainstream affordable laptop.

One thing we particularly like about the VGN-NW11S/S we're looking at today is the lack of one material that's so abundant elsewhere: glossy plastic. This is actually true of most of Sony's laptops, making it one of the few manufacturers that hasn't jumped on this particular bandwagon. You still get a glossy display mind, but this is nothing like as irritating as dealing with fingerprints, dust and grease adorning every inch of the chassis.

Instead, Sony has opted for a textured plastic finish - in this instance silver, though a brown version is also available. We dare say it won't be to everyone's taste, but it's very hard wearing and exemplifies the decent build quality seen throughout the machine. There are some nice touches dotted around the NW11, too. Particularly worthy of praise is the touchpad, which comprises a moulded clear plastic plate integrated into the palm rest. Not only does it look rather fetching, its textured surface offers great tactile feedback - the two buttons are very good, too.

Above the touchpad we have the now commonplace isolation keyboard. Sony is the company that started it all, though, so it can hardly be accused of imitation. Initially the white keys appear a bit jarring in contrast to their silver surroundings, but it's a foible one quickly gets over and the keyboard itself is a peach. Keys have a lovely firm and responsive action and the layout is perfect - we really can't think of a criticism.

Continuing our upward journey, above the keyboard there's a speaker grille, into which is inserted some shortcut keys, the power button and status lights for Caps Lock, Num Lock and Scroll Lock. A mute button is the only dedicated media control, with volume controls found on the keyboard, but there's also a button for turning off the backlight - handy if you use your laptop for listening to music. Most interesting, though, is the ‘Web' button, which launches a reworked version of the common Splashtop instant-on desktop.

Unlike other implementations, which feature a selection of applications, Sony has opted for just the web browser. It's not a bad idea either, since eliminating the other applications reduces the boot time even further (less than 30 seconds from cold to web page) and the web browser is arguably the most useful element of Splashtop. This makes it a neat feature for getting online quickly, but it is somewhat limited - you can't even adjust the display's brightness, so you're not going to use this mode for long periods.

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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