Test: The Sony Vaio S, A Hot Laptop … Too Hot

Sony Vaio VPCSB1S1E / W: the promise

Last February, Sony announced a new range of small laptops, the Vaio S. 13.3-inch machines, weighing around 1.7 kg, supposed to replace the Vaio Z. We received the input model the Vaio VPCSB1S1E / W, including an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB disk and a graphics card ATI Mobility Radeon HD 6470M.

Sony Vaio VPCSB1S1E / W: the reality

We had a little contemplated in the past, but always in pre-production, with a chassis to be improved. The model we received at 01Lab is still not a final version, but this time, it is the Bios that is concerned, according to Sony. We will discuss further the consequences. On the design side, this Vaio S has garnered the positive reviews from all the 01Lab test reporters. Its white hood, flanked by a chrome Vaio logo, gives it a very chic look … but it is also very messy.

A good comfort of use

The interior, entirely steel gray, shows a chiclet keyboard with well-spaced keys and – especially – backlit, very pleasant to use. Nothing wrong on the touchpad, a good width (almost 10 cm), allowing wide pointer movements. The screen is quickly appreciated for two reasons. The first is its matte coating, which avoids reflections of ambient light. The second is none other than its quality. We measured a suitable brightness of 232 cd / m² and a high contrast ratio of 913: 1.

However, given the finesse of the machine, we expected nothing of many small speakers, indeed of any audio quality. Helmet use should be frequent. Nothing to report about the webcam, which captures video (640 x 480 pixels) in a sufficient quality for video conferencing on the Internet.

A Vaio S series with little endurance

The format of the Vaio S fits well with the idea of a nomadic machine. Weighing 1.7 kg and quite thin (2.4 cm), it is easily carried away in a bag. We also like, despite the small format, the presence of an optical drive (combo DVD-R / CD-RW). We would have liked a better autonomy.

The six-cell battery does not allow it to reach the 4 hours (3 hours and 23 minutes measured) in video playback, Wi-Fi enabled and the backlight 100% of the slab. It should be possible to scrounge for half an hour by reducing the lighting of the slab or by turning off the keypad backlight, without compromising the comfort of use, but hardly much more. In return for this autonomy a little short, the Vaio S offers a certain versatility.

Versatile without being a player

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As we said earlier, this Vaio VPCSB1S1E / W incorporates a powerful processor, good RAM capacity and a graphics card with 512 MB of dedicated video memory. The latter, an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 6470M, offers a good level of performance in the world of multimedia but is not really cut for the game.

Our testing tools show that it is necessary to be content with a definition of intermediate image (1280 x 720 pixels) to keep a display just fluid (30 frames per second) with a game little greedy. In the native definition of the screen, 1,366 x 768 pixels, this little Vaio falls to about 25 images / s. Besides his rather modest score at 3D Mark Vantage (1,970 points), we note its 5,601 points obtained at PCMark Vantage (1,695 points at PCMark 7) which attest to a good office and multimedia behavior.

Some hiccups that should and will have to disappear

The Vaio VPCSB1S1E / W heats up and makes noise. At full load, we measured a temperature of 50.4 degrees under the machine and 34.7 degrees at the palm rest. To cool down, the fan starts and sounds 34.1 dB in idle mode and 44.7 dB at full load. So many measures that are not favorable to him, but which would be due, according to Sony, with the fact that this laptop does not integrate the final version of the Bios. As it stands, we can only denounce these nuisances, but also the high consumption: 57.1 watts maximum and 17.5 W at rest.

Finally, if we appreciate the three USB ports (including a standard 3.0), we can only criticize the choice of Sony as to the location of the Kensington lock. Located on the bottom right, not only it hits the hand if you use a mouse, but it obstructs access to the SD card reader, located just above. Pity!

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