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Sony VAIO S Series VPC-SB1V9E review

Feature-packed Sony ultraportable laptop

Our Verdict

The VAIO VPCSB1V9E is a competitor to the likes of Apple's MacBook Air and the upcoming Samsung 9-Series, featuring Intel Sandy Bridge technology and a host of features.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1366 x 768
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Sandy Bridge CPU
  • Highly portable
  • Great set of features
  • Plenty of storage
  • Anti-glare screen

Against

  • Not much of a looker
  • Occasionally noisy

The Sony VPC-SB1V9E is Sony's latest power ultraportable laptop but it's unusual for Sony - itfalls into the business-oriented VAIO S-Series range.

The VAIO Z-Series is the Japanese giant's usual ultra-portable laptop range, producing ridiculously sexy mini machines that can handle any application. Of course, this combo of power and portability often comes at quite a cost, usually well on the wrong side of a grand.

But while the VAIO VPC-SB1V9E S Series may not have the looks of the MacBook Air or the Samsung 9-Series, this is still a fantastic laptop that doesn't skimp on performance. Even better, at £899, the asking price isn't too steep for an ultra-portable.

At first glance, the VAIO VPC-SB1V9E isn't much of a looker. The lid is attractive enough with a dark brushed aluminium finish, but the insides look a little too plastic. Still, it's available in black, white and silver, and is a solid effort all round. We found no areas that flexed under pressure, and the lid is tough enough to withstand a few knocks, unlike the VAIO VPC-Y21S1E/SI's effort.

A weight of just 1.7kg means you can carry the S-Series laptop around all day, while the 30mm depth is comparable to a netbook. Thankfully the chassis is wider than a netbook's, so the isolation-style keyboard is well-sized. Each key pokes up through individual holes, meaning they are separated from each other by a covered gap. This greatly aids touch-typing.

If you're a fan of late-night spreadsheet fiddling, you'll be overjoyed to hear that the keyboard is also backlit, which highlights the keys in low light.

Sony vaio vpc-sb1v9e

Sony's usual VAIO, WEB and ASSIST shortcut buttons are stuck just over the VAIO VPC-SB1V9E's keyboard. WEB is self-explanatory, while ASSIST takes you to the proprietary VAIO Care application, which helps you to diagnose any problems with your laptop and improve performance. VAIO acts as a hub for your media, giving you quick access to your photos, videos and music.

We also enjoyed using the VAIO VPC-SB1V9E's surprisingly spacious touchpad, which makes the most of the compact palm rest. Two firm mouse buttons make a nice change from the typical single bar.

Specification

Working on your laptop when you're out and about can be a massive pain, thanks to the prevalence of glossy screens. Squinting at hazy images is never fun, so Sony has used an anti-glare TFT display for enhanced models in the VAIO S-Series, which eliminates any annoying reflections.

At 13.3-inches, it's a comfortable display to work on for extended periods. We were also impressed by the vivid colour reproduction, because images usually appear a little drained without a glossy Super-TFT coating. The 1366 x 768 resolution keeps things sharp, with excellent contrast levels.

A real surprise was the presence of a built-in DVD drive, a feature rarely seen on slender ultra-portables such as the VAIO VPC-SB1V9E. You therefore won't have to lug around a USB drive to watch movies or install and run applications.

Sony vaio vpc-sb1v9e

Since the Sony VAIO S-Series are business laptops, Sony has included a tiny fingerprint scanner, which is nestled between the mouse buttons. This is a great security measure, especially if you struggle to remember complex passwords.

We were also impressed by the VAIO VPC-SB1V9E's 500GB hard drive, considering the compact chassis. Many ultra-portables use Solid State Drive technology instead – with the likes of the MacBook Air only featuring 128GB of storage – so it's refreshing to have plenty of space to take our media with us.

Networking is strong, with 802.11n Wi-Fi support alongside Gigabit Ethernet. VGA and HDMI ports can be used to hook up monitors or projectors, while one of the three USB ports is USB 3.0, for super speedy data transfer.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerAMD, Intel
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon HD 6470, HD Graphics
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeDVD-Writer
HDMIYes
WebcamYes
Product FamilyVAIO SB
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Processor Modeli5-2410M
Operating SystemWindows 7 Professional
Brand NameSony
Processor Speed2.30 GHz
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size33.8 cm (13.3")
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory4 GB
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM55 Express
Optical Media SupportedDVD±R/±RW
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 512 MB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports3
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesSB
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelVPCSB1V9E/B
Product NameVAIO VPCSB1V9E/B Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineVAIO
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVPCSB1V9E/B.CEK
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

There's something unique about every VAIO notebook. Constantly evolving, each model in the lineup features innovative design elements and a rare blend of colors and textures that cannot be overlooked.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Package Contents
  • VAIO VPCSB1V9E/B Notebook
  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • AC Adapter