Sony VAIO SE Series review

Price when reviewed

The newest addition to Sony’s range, the VAIO SE Series, is a desktop replacement with a difference. Taking the slender, distinctive styling of its smaller sibling, the A-Listed 13.3in Sony VAIO SB Series, the VAIO SE Series swells the screen size and bolsters the specifications with Blu-ray and a Full HD display.

Visually, Sony has barely changed a thing. Carved from a combination of smooth curves and sharp angles, the VAIO SE Series is far more striking than your average 15.5in laptop. Our review unit arrived clad in matte silver plastic, and with the central hinge sparkling in a shiny chrome, it certainly captures the attention. Those after a more sober, serious SE Series can opt for a model cast in matte black.

With its 26mm-thick chassis and 2kg weight, the VAIO SE Series is also more svelte than average. Despite this, build quality is good: there’s a little give when you really grapple with it, and there’s flex in the display and wristrest if you prod hard enough, but nothing to get alarmed about.

Sony VAIO SE Series - rear

The star of the show is the 15.5in display, which boasts a Full HD resolution, and leaves the pale, low-contrast panel of the SB Series for dust. A contrast ratio of 773:1 and a maximum brightness of 317cd/m2 are exemplary: this is exactly the quality of panel we’d expect to see on a £1,000 laptop. The semi-gloss finish on the Sony’s display does its bit, too, giving images far more vibrance than a matte panel, with little of the aggravating reflectivity of glossy alternatives.

The gorgeous display makes a fine partner for the other elements of the VAIO SE Series’ specification. The included Blu-ray writer adds a lot to the price (a jaw-dropping £370), but watching HD movies on the SE Series is certain to make anyone go weak at the knees. Our Blu-ray of Avatar looked sublime, with every detail of Pandora’s kaleidoscopic colour palette brought to startling life. Make sure to plug some headphones in, however: the tinny speakers do movies and music little justice.

Our review unit didn’t afford quite the same eye-popping experience with games – the dedicated AMD Radeon HD 6470M chipset struggles at higher resolutions – but even set to lower resolutions and detail settings, the Sony’s intense colour reproduction helps make the most of the experience. And should you desire more oomph than the weakling AMD GPU can muster, fear not: an upgrade to the more powerful Radeon HD 6630M chipset costs a very reasonable £40.


Warranty2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions382 x 260 x 26mm (WDH)
Travelling weight2.4kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-2430M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM65
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free1
SODIMM sockets total1

Screen and video

Screen size15.5in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 3000 / AMD Radeon HD 6470M
Graphics card RAMN/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity466GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskHitachi Travelstar 5K750
Optical disc technologyBlu-ray writer
Optical driveMatshita BD-CMB UJ152
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 switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 22min
3D performance (crysis) low settings56fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.84
Responsiveness score0.66
Media score0.53
Multitasking score0.68

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software suppliedAdobe Photoshop Elements

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos