Sony's on a roll with their 2012 Ivy Bridge notebooks. The Vaio S series has always been a class leader among a small group of powerful ultraportables with dedicated graphics. In fact, it harkens back to the older Vaio Z and SZ lines that put a premium on both portability and upgradability. Now the S Series has split into two lines: the Vaio S 13.3 and the Vaio S 15.5. The 15.5" model is new and replaces the Vaio F Series. The S 13.3" carries on the sub- 4 pound powerhouse tradition, and in today's video review we look at the Sony Vaio S 13.3 Premium, otherwise known as model SVS13A190X, or simply Vaio S13A.
The premium model starts at $1,119 and you get plenty for your money:
- Full mobile Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs (dual core, third gen) - Switchable graphics with Intel HD 4000 graphics and 1GB Nvidia GT640M LE (Kepler) dedicated graphics - 1600 x 900 display with anti-glare finish - Carbon fiber casing (available in black, gold and gunmetal) - Internal DVD burner (Blu-ray is optional) - Fingerprint scanner with TPM - 7200 RPM hard drive (SSD is optional) - 4 to 12 gigs of DDR3 1333MHz RAM - Backlit keyboard - 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 port, HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet and 3.5mm audio - Intel WiFi 802.11n with Intel WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0 + HS
The standard Vaio S13 weighs 3.8 pounds and is 0.95" thick. The premium, thanks to carbon fiber, weighs 3.69 pounds and is 0.90". That's just a few ounces heavier than the Sony Vaio T Ultrabook, but the Vaio S is much more powerful than the Ultrabook. The standard model starts at $799 with integrated graphics and $999 with dedicated graphics (both have 1366 x 768 displays). Our premium rocks a good quality 1600 x 900 matte display with good blacks and pleasing color saturation. It's not as good as the superb 1920 x 1080 panel used on the Sony Vaio Z latest generation, but that machine costs a good deal more.
We opted for the $1,199 model with gigs of RAM and a 640 gig 7200 RPM hard drive. The latop has a 4,400 mAh Lithim Ion battery and there's an optional sheet battery that doubles runtimes. If you remove the notebook's bottom cover (affixed with two screws) you can access the battery, single RAM slot and hard drive. The notebook has 4 gigs of RAM soldered on the motherboard and one standard SODIMM RAM slot. I popped a Corsair 8 gig stick into the machine for 12 gigs total.
Sony offers the machine with SSDs in a RAID configuration, not unlike the Vaio Z. The drive has a standard SATA interface, so you can upgrade to an SSD at a later date if you're a do-it-yourself type.
Is the Vaio S13A just a poor man's Vaio Z? For some it might be, but I see it as a more all-around machine for those who need an optical drive and dedicated graphics and can live with 3.7lbs. vs. 2.5lbs. on the road.