Sony VAIO S13 review
In Sony’s own words, the VAIO S Series “works hard, plays hard”, which is sure to pique the interest of any student hoping to take this laptop home after a long day. The “work hard” is evident in a number of ways. For a start, it’s well secured: there’s a fingerprint reader to protect admin accounts, a TPM chip to aid encryption and a docking station connector.
Performance is superb: no matter what tasks you throw at it, the VAIO S13 should cope. The power stems from the 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-540M processor, and a hefty 6GB of DDR3 memory helps too. No wonder the S13 scored a healthy 1.57 in the PC Pro benchmarks.
Nvidia’s GeForce 310M graphics can aid video decoding and encoding, but really come to the fore after hours. The S13 scored a solid 45fps in our Low quality Crysis benchmark at native resolution, so you should be able to increase settings and still play smoothly.
Sony tops off all that power with a 500GB hard disk and DVD writer, plus D-SUB and HDMI outputs for connecting to external displays and projectors. You also get Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, with support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. Sony also crams in a 3G modem, so you can connect to the internet wherever there’s mobile phone reception.
The 13.3in glossy display has a 1,366 x 768 resolution. It’s a little reflective under lights, but that gloss adds punch to the colours and gives it impressive brightness. Our only gripe is the cold tone to it all, which makes it less suitable for colour-accurate work.
Despite the S13’s compact dimensions, the Scrabble-tile keyboard feels more spaced out than most, and Sony hasn’t had to miniaturise any major keys. The typing action is smooth, but squeezing the base reveals a bit of bend above the optical drive, and the hinge sometimes creaks when you adjust it. It’s not often we criticise the build quality of a VAIO, but the S13 isn’t up there with the best.
Our other criticism is battery life, with the S13 lasting only 3hrs 44mins in our light-use test. That’s a shame because at 1.98kg it’s quite portable, and there’s no disputing its many other strengths. But it’s expensive, so make sure you’ll use all that power before you buy.
|Warranty||2yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||329 x 229 x 34mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-540M|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM55|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce 310M|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||454GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Toshiba MK5065GSX|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||Optiarc AD-7930H|
|Replacement battery price ex VAT||£112|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£132|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||yes|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Multitouch touchpad|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 44min|
|Battery life, heavy use||2hr 4min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.57|
|Office application benchmark score||1.24|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.76|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.52|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.75|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||45fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partiion|
|Software supplied||Adobe Photoshop/Premiere Elements 8|