The Vaio S Ultrabook is supposed to be a business laptop or at least that’s the premise. However, the Vaio S is really an everyday laptop that once you begin to use it you realize that “business” is a relative term. I’ve used this laptop for a couple of weeks and I can tell you unequivocally that this the laptop that goes everywhere with you business or not.
Build & Design, Keyboard, Etc.
The Vaio S is a well built, durable laptop with clean lines and a corporate look. It’s got a nice matte finish on top and brushed aluminum base when you open it up. Not too plastic so the Vaio S looks the part. It’s incredibly lightweight at under 3 pounds (2.34 to be exact) and very slim. When you open it up and you begin to use it you see how the design comes into play. The keyboard is well spaced and the keys have a good amount of travel and are fairly tactile. I never felt like the keys were too soft and smushy which something I notice in ultrabooks because of the limited space of the chassis. My palms rested well on both sides of the touchpad and typing was a breeze.
On the backend of the screen case there are two little studs that protrude and it looks weird at first but it’s when you open the laptop and place it on the desk you realize that it elevates the keyboard ever so slightly to make typing easier. I can’t tell you how much I loved this. I hate typing on flat keyboards because after a while it kills my fingers and my wrists. That little bit of elevation even helps me type while helping keep the laptop cool overall. A little subtlety goes a long way here. So, in the case of the design Vaio will always get that right.
Ports, Inputs, Display, Battery
Despite the Vaio S being an ultrabook it’s packed with some of the things that by today’s standard you may not see on a laptop going forward. The Vaio S has 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, an HDMI port, audio jack, ethernet jack and VGA to connect a monitor to if necessary. No USB Type-C but that’s minor. It’s still a workhorse. The Vaio S has a display resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) and no touchscreen. I’m not a big fan of touchscreen unless it’s a tablet so this wasn’t an issue for me.
The display is where the Vaio S shows weakness. Although the display does give you full HD resolution the screen never looked crisp at any time. The Vaio S has a matte glare free finish and although it’s a preventative measure against scratches and other imperfections that’ll happen over time and use, the screen suffers overall as a result. It always seemed dull to me even though colors were represented well. Watching video and doing some moderate gaming wasn’t horrible just not a treat. It was average.
The touchpad was the other issue I had with the Vaio S. First off, the touchpad was a little too small (At least for me) and there were times that the touchpad had a mind of its own. Either it was too sensitive or sometimes it wouldn’t respond to me mostly when I used the right click. It was annoying and this was prior to me changing the version of Windows I was using. To be fair though, touchpads on laptops generally suck with the one exception being the MacBook Pro but this one was a little bit of a pain because of its size or lack thereof and its freakish behavior from time to time but for the most part everything was cool.
Battery life on the Vaio S was pretty good with the right settings. Vaio estimates the Vaio S will offer 9 hours or so of battery life but of course that can only happen if you just turn it on and do nothing. I personally found that on average I was getting around 3.5 hours with the brightness at 75% and minor use. With major use and the battery saver on and the screen brightness at about 50% I would get pretty much the same so on average 3.5 hours is what you’re going to get. That’s not bad either. Laptops especially ultrabooks aren’t usually going to blow you away with long battery life and this is no different. You’ll still be able to get plenty done on a fully charged battery.
The Vaio S review unit that I used is a really good mid-range ultrabook that doesn’t totally justify its price point but you won’t feel cheated in what’s under the keyboard either. The version I have isn’t the high-end version of the Vaio S that has the i7 but the i5 was more than capable and sufficient although not ideal for gaming due to the graphics card. I also used a different version of Windows in this review to test out some gaming with the Xbox app. I used the Windows 10 Creators Edition and it performed well. Here is what the Vaio S has going on overall:
Windows 10 Pro Signature Edition
13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) non-touch display
6th Generation Intel Core i5-6200U processor (2.30GHz)
Intel HD Graphics 520
8GB of DDR3L (1600 MHz)
256GB PCIe SSD
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1
1280 x 720 webcam
Dimensions: 12.68 x .52-.71 x 8.53 inches (WHD)
Weight: 2.34 pounds
MSRP as configured: $1099
The Vaio S is a solid machine when it comes to performance. I would use it everyday and I’m a guy that likes to keep a ton of tabs open when I’m online and listen to music while I read and anything else I can up with to do simultaneously. Rarely did I hear the fans kick in when I was at my desk which told me that the i5 could more than handle the load and quite frankly I thought it was showing off. I imagine the i7 would handle the load similarly but with i7’s for some reason they always cause the fans to run fast because those chips tend to always run hot so I would almost recommend the i5 version of this laptop than the i7 for that reason alone.
In terms of the value is the Vaio S worth it? It’s always yes and no with any gadget. Yes, because it’s a Vaio (formerly Sony). Yes, because it’s well built, great looking and damn light. Yes, because it’s got great specs and you can get a lot done with this machine. If I had to say no it would be because it is pricey. At $1100 there are cheaper or similar options that will give you relatively the same specs if not more so for that money like the Dell XPS 13 or even a Surface Pro 4 with their recent price drop. It’s hard to justify that money especially nowadays when PC’s as a whole are so much cheaper. No, because the screen leaves much to be desired for $1100. Pros and cons aside the Vaio S is a fantastic laptop. I carry it with me everywhere I go and sometimes I forget that I have it because it’s so light and portable. I get good battery life out of it and using it isn’t a cumbersome experience. I can take it out put in on my lap and do what I have to do and not have to worry about my legs being on fire or having to be in a weird position to keep it on my lap. I absolutely enjoyed the experience and I hate that I must give it back but I am glad that I had the experience and I would totally consider buying one. Anyone who buys the Vaio S will undoubtedly appreciate it and feel satisfied that they got what they paid for.