- User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Quality of Tech Support:
Pros:Fast nice looking notebook with great screen and light-weight
Cons:Poor audio quality
The Bottom Line: Vaio SE series are great, fast, light and nice looking notebook. However there are a few significant drawbacks which shall be improved
Premise: Sony allows to configure your desired notebook from his web site. This allows a complete customisation of your notebook. This review is actually made for the VPCSE1C5E which features an Intel Core i7-2640 (2.8 GHz), 8 Gb of ram, 256 Gb solid state drive, Windows 7 home premium.
I was looking for a replacement PC for my beloved Asus W1N (8 year old) and I needed some specific characteristics: a 1920x1080 resolution screen, Intel core i7, solid state drive, very good keyboard, light (max 2 Kg). My first choice was the Asus Zenbook which differs only for the 1600x900 screen. It has great portability and has a good 13.3" screen. However I was not convinced at all by the keyboard. I am one of the guys who need a real keyboard where you have to feel the typing. The Asus zenbook was too soft in this respect. Also the zenbook has only two USB (one to be used as ethernet port in case you do not rely on ) which for me was on the very low side.
One of the few notebook which matched these specifications was this custom made Sony. The SE series has a wonderful 1920x1080 screen and is really light weight, only 2 Kg which I think is almost a record for this category as it also features a DVD drive, 3 USB (one USB3), ethernet port, VGA, HDMI, SD and HD duo ports.
When I received it I immediately fell in love with this notebook. It feels quite solid and thanks to the lightweight material used for the chassis is incredibly light considering it features a 15,5" full HD screen.
The boot-up with SSD drive takes slightly more than 10 seconds, incredibly fast. The overalls speed for my purpose is extremely good thanks to the Intel core i7. As I do not use it for playing games the performances of the Intel onboard graphic card as well as the Radeon additional card are more than enough. If you are a game addicted I think this notebook might not be the right choices (see also later for sound quality). Also the keyboard is not only great for typing but is also back illuminated. In stamina mode the battery allows to run the notebook for at least 4 hours which I think is quite good for this piece of hardware.
So this is a fast, light and nice looking piece of hardware. However there are some significant cons:
1) price. Sony notebooks are deadly expansive. I bought mine for around 1200€ as it was a reconditioned unit and I used a 10% coupon. Its real price would have been in the 1700€ area.
2) Audio quality is terrible. Such expansive notebook shall have at least a decent audio playback. Bass are completely missing
3) Noisy. In normal operation everything is ok (especially if you use it in the "stamina" mode which for me is perfect). However in the "speed" mode with the Radeon graphic card activated if you run some cpu intensive tasks the fan start spinning and it is extremely noise. For me this is definitely unacceptable for this price tag.
4) Ports disposition. They are all placed on the right side, especially the ethernet port is placed in quite unconfortable area as it is where I normally have my mouse.
As usual the notebook is shipped with some Sony software, most of it is completely useless and you can simply disable it. There are some interesting accessories for this notebook which you might find on the sony website like a docking station or an additional battery which allows you to double the notebook life when running with batteries. In stamina mode this is around 4 hours with the inbuilt battery. With the additional battery which just fits below the Vaio you can reach roughly 8 hours. Needless to say also these accessories are quite expansive. From heating point of view the notebook on the top remains quite cool, if kept on the legs the bottom is warm but acceptable.
In conclusion I am very happy of this purchase, this Vaio SE series notebook fits almost perfectly my expectations and requirements. The poor audio quality for me is a minor issue, however if audio playback is important for you please look elsewhere. Also if you plan to run cpu intensive tasks like games then I would also try other solutions as the fan when running at full speed is like an airplane passing by close to you. Sony did a very well job with this notebook and the possibility of fully cusotmizing the unit is something I really like. However there are for sure space for improvements.
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Amount Paid (US$): 1400
Operating System: Windows
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: 15 inches
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: DVD
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50