If you're a spy, travel writer or someone else who's often on the move, you'll need a laptop that's dinky enough to sling into a bag, but powerful too, so it won't freeze while you're trying to disarm a nuclear missile, or write a glowing review of a beachside café in Corsica. Sony's got your back with its new Vaio S series laptops. We recently got our hands on one of these 13.3-inch machines, and here are out first impressions.
The new S series models will cost you between about £900 and £1,000 when they're released in March.
Light and breezy
The S series is impressively light, at 1.8kg, so you'll be able to carry it around without becoming doubled over like a hideous, modern-day Quasimodo. It measures 331 by 24 by 225mm, so it's reasonably slim too.
Despite being really thin, we're pleased to see that the S series doesn't sacrifice much in terms of ports. For example, you get both VGA and HDMI video outputs, the latter being particularly handy, because it means you can export your laptop's video and sound to a hi-def telly. That's perfect for watching movies, or forcing uninterested parties to sit through your holiday snaps. You also get three USB ports, one of which is a faster USB 3.0 port, and a DVD rewritable drive.
Certain models offer 3G connectivity, so you can whack in a SIM card and access the Internet when you're away from your home Wi-Fi network or a coffee-shop hotspot. This will prove useful if you're often on the road.
The S series packs a 13.3-inch display, with a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. That's about standard. Unfortunately, the unit we saw was experiencing, um, technical difficulties, so we can't comment on the quality of the panel. Vaio screens are generally some of the best around, though, so the chances are that it will prove a bright, vivid display.
We can't say we were blown away by the S series' design. If Sony's colourful new C series laptops are the crazy hippy aunt of the family, the S series is the reserved, stock-trading uncle. Clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic are the order of the day. The S series looks fine, but we wouldn't go much further than that.
Sony's reckons the battery will last for 7 hours away from the mains, which is impressive, although we're taking that claim with a pinch of salt until we've run our benchmark tests. There's also an optional secondary battery that you can charge without it being connected in any way to the laptop. You can then plug this extra battery into the S series without unplugging the main battery, for an extra juice boost. If you're organised enough to keep the spare battery charged and on your person, it could prove useful.
The S series is a business-focused laptop, so it runs Windows 7 Professional. The model we saw also had a 500GB hard drive, an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and an AMD Radeon HD 6470M graphics card. The exact components will depend on the model you buy, but the specs of the laptop that we saw are promisingly meaty.
The new Sony Vaio S series laptops seem to offer a great blend of portability and power. You'll have to cough up a significant chunk of change to bag one of these machines, however.
Edited by Charles Kloet