March 13, 2012
- USB 3.0, Bluetooth & Intel Wi-Di
- Beautiful 1080p display
- Comfortable backlit keyboard
- 10-hours of life with optional slice battery
- Solid performance
- GPU switching is choppy
The Sony VAIO VPC-SE13FX is a laptop that has a full HD resolution 15.5-inch display, a lightweight design and a comfortable keyboard. It also has solid performance as well as excellent battery life that beats out most other 15-inch models. It also has dual AMD graphics, but it doesn't work all that smoothly.
Ultrabooks are certainly the hot item this year and for the near future, but this Sony VAIO hopes to go against the grain by offering a lightweight 15-inch notebook that gives you both portability and power. It goes up against ultrabooks like the new Dell XPS 13 and HP Folio, both of which are fantastic notebooks that come in an extremely portable package.
The design of the Sony VAIO includes a silver magnesium alloy lid that has a slight taper along the edges. The lid has a matte finish that doesn't show any fingerprints, which is always a plus. The interior has a brushed aluminum finish that matches the exterior well. It also comes in a matte black finish that offers a more professional look. In total, it measures 15.0 x 10.1 x 1.0-inches (wdh) and weighs 4.4-pounds, so it's definitely lighter more compact than almost any other 15-inch notebook on the market, including the HP Envy 15.
Sony includes an island-style keyboard with this model that also has full backlighting, which has become the new trend. Surprisingly, there is also a full numeric keypad which would have made us think the rest of the keyboard would be crammed together, but it actually isn't. We found the keyboard to provide a comfortable typing experience and minimal errors. The smooth touchpad includes multitouch gesture support, but a limited set of gestures in hopes of simplicity. There are two large, discrete mouse buttons below the pad that offered firm feedback.
One of Sony's big selling points with the VPC-SE13FX is the 15.5-inch LED-backlit IPS display with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080-pixels, which is full HD. We found the display's quality to be worth Sony's hype as it offered vibrant image quality and crisp, readable text.
For connections and ports, Sony doesn't leave anything out. There is a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-out, VGA-out, Ethernet, the usual audio ports and a memory card reader that supports SD and Sony Memory Stick Duo cards. We appreciate Sony including USB 3.0 as that's a must for future expansion and peripherals. There is also a tray-loading CD/DVD burner, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Intel's Wi-Di wireless display technology.
Our review model included an Intel Core i5-2450M (2.4GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 640GB 5400RPM hard drive and dual graphics that included integrated Intel HD and AMD Radeon HD 6470M (w/ 512GB video memory) graphics. All together we found performance with the Sony VAIO VPC-SE13FX to be above the category average and near the top of the 15-inch category. We also had no trouble streaming and watching HD video from the Internet and doing the usual multitasking chores.
The dual-graphics setup isn't as smooth as the Nvidia Optimus technology, which automatically switches seamlessly. To switch between the integrated and discrete graphics on this Sony laptop, you must press a "Stamina/Speed" button in the top left corner of the notebook and it will take about 3 seconds to switch video systems. During this delay the entire screen will go black and it will seem rather jarring. With the discrete AMD graphics enabled, we found graphics performance to be slightly above the category average, which will provide you with playable 3D gaming results.
With the included battery, expect to get about 4:45-hours of battery life, which is right on par with other similar notebooks. However, if you add the slice battery you'll get about 10-hours of life, which is about twice the category average. The slice battery does come at a cost of $150 and about an extra pound of weight.