Sony VAIO F12 review

Price when reviewed

Sony enjoys a reputation for high-quality displays, but here we’re not quite so persuaded. The “pro grade” display features an anti-glare coating that cuts out the reflections that typically plague glossy screens – but inevitably it also reduces the apparent contrast, which can leave dark scenes looking a little flat.

Still, colourful scenes have a stunning vibrance to them, and a richness that really does recommend the F12 as a movie-watching device. The impression is let down only slightly by the integrated speakers, which, predictably enough, are incapable of generating the rumbles and booms required for a true cinematic experience. Still, the Dolby Home Theater-branded audio system is surprisingly loud, with stereo separation a particular strong point.

Sony VAIO F12 - rear view

For a machine like this, portability clearly isn’t a top priority, but the F Series lasted 3hr 7mins in our light-use battery test and hung on for 1hr 25mins in the heavy-use test. That’s not quite enough juice to see you through a long train journey, and at 3.1kg (3.75kg with the charger) it’s definitely not a notebook to sling in a satchel. But you can probably get away with watching one film, or a few TV episodes, while away from the mains.

Bundled software extends only as far as the ad-supported Office 2010 Starter, a few trials of security and backup software, plus webcam software and the usual VAIO tools, including a media player, system information utility and tools to let you control a PlayStation 3 over a home network. At this price that seems a bit mean.

However, you don’t need to buy this top-spec version. One of the advantages of the F12 is that you can customise it (if you buy from Sony Style), and Sony also produces a number of different models at different prices.

We’re not impressed by this flagship model’s value for money, but the F Series’ gorgeous chassis, sumptuous display and workstation-standard performance will deservedly win it admirers.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions387 x 263 x 41mm (WDH)
Travelling weight3.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-720QM
Motherboard chipsetIntel PM55 Express
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size16.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetNvdia GeForce GT 330M
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate ST9500420AS
Optical disc technologyBlu-ray drive
Optical driveOptiarc BD-5730S6
Battery capacity5,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots1
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports1
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetDolby Home Theater
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use3hr 7min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 25min
Overall application benchmark score1.58
Office application benchmark score1.21
2D graphics application benchmark score1.88
Encoding application benchmark score1.49
Multitasking application benchmark score1.75
3D performance (crysis) low settings81fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software suppliedMicrosoft Office 2010 Starter

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