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Sony Sent Me A Laptop. Here Are My First Impressions.

This post is part of program called “Charged and Ready” by Sony Electronics and Microsoft, where a group of college bloggers have been given a Sony VAIO-S series laptop to test and review.

Sup internet bros (and ladies too). Last week, Sony sent me a free review unit of their just-released VPCSA21GX/SI laptop, which is part of their new S Series. As an “influential student voice” (it sounds weird to say that about myself), I’ve been asked to review this laptop and give my opinion as to whether it would be a good buy for students. The main feature Sony is touting with this laptop is the battery life – they claim the unit can last 7.5 hours by itself, and can go up to 15 hours if you have the optional sheet battery attached. Now, while you certainly don’t need 15 hours on a day-to-day basis in college, having a battery that won’t ever die on you in class would definitely be nice.

I’m going to take some time to put this laptop through its paces before writing a full review, but I thought that today I’d post my unboxing video and first impressions, and also show you a few pictures of the unit and how it looks next to my Macbook Pro.

This 13″ laptop is priced at $1,299 at Newegg. At this price point, it’s directly competing with the 13″ Macbook Pro, which would actually end up being over $150 cheaper if you get it in a university bookstore with the Apple student discount. However, this is a souped-up model – you can get a slightly lower-powered model at the Sony website for $999. If you’re a student, you can also get the optional sheet battery for free until mid-July (this only applies to the models on the Sony website).

So what’s the difference between the model I’m reviewing and the $999 model at the Sony store? There are actually two:

  • The resolution has been bumped up from 1366 x 768 to 1600 x 900
  • The graphics card has been upgraded from a Radeon HD 6470 to a Radeon HD 6630

The difference in the screen resolutions is obvious: you’ll be able to fit more stuff on your screen with the upgraded model. If you’re going to be doing design work, you’ll want to go for the bigger screen resolution.

As for the graphics cards, you can get all the details by clicking the link for each one and checking the specs. Quickly glancing at the benchmarks though, I’ll say that you should be able to play games on either one. Call of Duty: Black Ops, for example, runs at 55 FPS on medium settings with the 6630, and drops to a still-respectable 44 with the 6470. Obviously, the 6630 will be more future-proof, but neither of them will keep you confined to an Xbox.

If you compare just these two models and discount all other laptops, the difference is getting a better screen and graphics card or saving $300 and getting the sheet battery for free (until mid-July).

I’ll post my full review soon, which will compare this laptop directly with the MacBook Pro (it’s what I have, and it’s in the same class of laptop). For now, here’s my unboxing video and some initial pictures. Enjoy!