January 30, 2012
- USB 3.0 & Blu-ray
- Full 1080p display
- Strong performance
- Slightly heavier/larger than other 16-inch laptops
- Below average battery life
The Sony Vaio VPC-F23BFX is a 16-inch laptop that has a quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and discrete Nvidia graphics. These specifications, along with a Blu-ray drive and USB 3.0 support, make this laptop not only a powerhouse, but also great for multimedia.
The design of the Sony Vaio VPC-F23BFX is quite unique, but nothing too crazy. It has sharp angles and edges to give it a polished look. Both the chassis and lid are quite wide at the top and slim down near the bottom, which makes it a little boxier than we would like to see. Its dimensions are 15.7 x 1.7 x 10.7-inches (whd) and weighs about 6.9-pounds, so it's definitely a little bulkier and heavier than some other slim 16-inch notebooks.
Sony designed the palm rest to be slightly raised, which looks and feels a little strange when you first start using it. The keyboard is an island style layout and features both large, well-spaced keys and a full numeric keypad too. We had no issues with any strangely placed or sized keys anywhere, so that's a huge plus as it's quite common place to have one or two weird ones. The keys are backlit and provided a comfortable typing experience in our use.
The touch pad, which is also raised and seamless with the palm rest, has a textured dot pattern to not only help you stay within its bounds, but also to give you some tactileness. It is also multitouch enabled, but it's a tad small in our opinion because of that. The touch pad wasn't horrible, but we've felt better, especially the glass ones on the MacBook Pros. We also would have liked to see two discrete buttons for left/ right click instead of the one rocker bar.
The 16.4-inch display has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080-pixels, so it's full HD quality. The good thing about getting a 16-inch instead of a 15-inch is usually the 1080p display, which for most users, is worth the money if you can tolerate the extra size/weight. We found the display to be very bright and it displayed colors with good accuracy, especially while watching Blu-ray movies displayed in their native resolution (another benefit of the 1080p screen).
We really appreciate the number of ports that Sony included on the VPC-F23BFX model. You can two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0, FireWire 400, HDMI-out, VGA-out, gigabit Ethernet, the usual audio ports and an SD memory card reader. There is also 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless built-in. You also get a tray-loaded Blu-ray and DVD+/-RW combo drive as well, which is one of this laptop's multimedia selling points. As with all laptops that include USB 3.0 (2 of them in this case!), we give the manufacturer an extra nod for that.
Our configuration included a quad-core Intel Core i7-2670QM (2.2GHz) CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 640GB 7200RPM hard drive and discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics with 1GB of dedicated memory. There are a few different configurations available, mostly in a realm of CPU and RAM. There is also an option to boost the graphics slightly as well.
In our use, we found the Sony Vaio VPC-F23BFX's performance to be near the top of the 16-inch category. The different between the top few laptops (including this one) is so negligible that most users would never even know the difference. This is really an impressive laptop for multimedia use as we've been mentioning, so if you want the ability to watch Blu-ray movies or streaming HD media while on-the-go, this is a laptop to look at.
Gaming performance with this laptop is also quite good, but for the occasional game, you might find it necessary to dial down the graphics settings slightly.
Battery life is not this laptop's strong suit, but that's to be expected to an extent because of it powerful internals that you get with this machine. In our testing, we were able to squeak out just short of 3 hours of life when just constantly surfing over Wi-Fi. Playing back video will reduce this number by about an hour, so watching a movie might almost completely drain the battery.