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Sony VAIO F Series: Portable, but lacks power

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Dec. 21, 2011
At 16 inches and 6.7 pounds, the Sony VAIO F Series just barely edges into the desktop replacement category. It's modern-looking (that's not necessarily a good thing), with sharp angles, smooth lines, and a monochromatic minimalist look. It also fails to beat the performance scores of other desktop replacements, but it's so light and small (for this category) that perhaps you'll look past its performance issues.

At 16 inches and 6.7 pounds, the Sony VAIO F Series just barely edges into the desktop replacement category. It's modern-looking (that's not necessarily a good thing), with sharp angles, smooth lines, and a monochromatic minimalist look. It also fails to beat the performance scores of other desktop replacements, but it's so light and small (for this category) that perhaps you'll look past its performance issues.

Our review model, priced at $1119, sports a second-generation Intel Core i7-2670QM processor, 4GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 540M discrete graphics card, and a 640GB hard drive. It's also got built-in Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a Pioneer Blu-ray Disc player. Our model runs the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.

In PCWorld's in-house testing, the VAIO F Series performed below average for its category. At 16.4 inches, the F Series is considered a desktop replacement. However, in our WorldBench benchmark tests, the F Series only scores 117, which puts it in the lower half of our top 10 list. The five desktop replacement laptops we tested before the Sony VAIO F Series averaged a score of 151. Of course, they also weighed about two pounds more on average, and had about 30 minutes less battery life.

Graphics performance is also below average. In our Far Cry 2 graphics test, the VAIO F Series only manages a frame rate of 21.1 frames per second (high quality graphics, 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution). By comparison, the category average in the same test is more than twice that at 52.5 fps.

The VAIO F Series has an interesting, if not very attractive, design. First, the basics: the laptop is matte black with a very simple cover that has a silver VAIO logo splashed across the center. Now for the "interesting" part of the design: when the laptop closes, the cover is offset about a half an inch from the base. This creates a small step from the top to the bottom, and while it looks somewhat edgy, it also looks mismatched. Needless to say, this design is not for everyone.

Inside, the laptop carries over its "edgy" yet minimalist design. The wristpad, for example, is slightly raised on its own little plateau. There is a chiclet-style, backlit keyboard (complete with a 10-key number pad). It is comfortable to type on, though the default setting of the keyboard lighting up brightly whenever you touch a key is annoying. Luckily, you can turn the backlight off. There are three physical buttons above the keyboard (Assist, Web, and VAIO), as well as touch buttons for multimedia control.

Below the keyboard, on the raised wristpad plateau, there's a small touchpad denoted only by a textured square. The touchpad is smooth and responsive, though I dislike textured pads. Below the touchpad is a wide black rocker that serves as both a left- and right-click. Like most rockers, this one feels a little cheap.

 

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