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Sony VAIO F Series: Portable, but lacks power

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Dec. 21, 2011
At 16 inches and 6.7 pounds, the Sony VAIO F Series just barely edges into the desktop replacement category. It's modern-looking (that's not necessarily a good thing), with sharp angles, smooth lines, and a monochromatic minimalist look. It also fails to beat the performance scores of other desktop replacements, but it's so light and small (for this category) that perhaps you'll look past its performance issues.

Ports on the VAIO F Series are easily accessible. On the right side of the laptop there's a headphone jack, a microphone jack, and one USB 2.0 port. On the left side of the laptop, there are two USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI output, and a VGA output. There is also an S400 port (4-pin Firewire), as well as a multi-in-one card slot located on the front of the laptop.

The VAIO F Series comes in two versions: regular ol' 2D and fancy new 3D. Our review model is the 2D version, and so it sports a 16.4-inch semi-glossy LED screen with a native resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. The screen is bright and clear and looks good-but-not-great, with decent color representation (the picture occasionally looks bluish) and mostly crisp edges. Off-axis viewing angles are dismal, especially if you look at the screen from above or below.

Video playback on the F Series is excellent, and high-def videos stream seamlessly. Blu-ray discs also look awesome, though DVD upconversion is a little sketchy. In my testing there were a lot of blocky artifacts in multiple DVD scenes.

Audio on the F Series is actually quite good, though the speakers suffer from the usual laptop speaker syndrome: tinny-ness and lack of bass. Still, the F Series' speakers aren't painful to listen to, especially if you use the Dolby Home Theater filtering option. Plus, they're extremely loud.

Performance issues aside, the VAIO F Series isn't such a bad buy. Sure, you'll have to contend with Sony's extra software (such as its VAIO Gate dock), and the Firewire port is weirdly located on the front of the computer, but otherwise the F Series is a decent laptop for multimedia playback and basic tasks. I don't love the design, but others might. Plus, it's pretty portable for a desktop replacement.


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