The Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B laptop combines a rather impressive array of business-friendly features with excellent performance, decent build-quality and tastefully understated style.

At 2.0kg, the 13.3in Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B weighs rather less than most of the similarly-sized competition. The Vaio retains the important but bulkier components such as a dual-layer DVD burner and a decent-sized battery. So while it doesn’t quite make it into the sub-category of “thin and light” laptops, it’s pleasantly easy to carry around.

Finished in a business-like matt black the Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B is unlikely to slip out of your hands as you dash into the meeting-room. The built-in fingerprint reader ensures a speedy Windows sign-in and if you want to hook up a projector then you’ll find both VGA and HDMI ports placed conveniently along the lefthand-side. Neither will there’s be any clumsy reaching around the back for any of the connectors which include FireWire (but no eSATA), gigabit LAN and USB 2.0 ports available on both sides. Along the front edge of the laptop is a pair of memory card slots and a physical wireless on/off switch as well as audio jacks and an eject button for the optical drive.

The Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B's backlit scrabble tile-style keyboard will also ensure you can keep typing with the lights dimmed. When back at your desk, the Vaio can slot quickly into a docking station to ensure the minimum of plugging. On leaving the office, you’ll be able to make use of Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 3G mobile connectivity.

Powered by a 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-460M, the Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B is a very fast laptop, achieving 111 points in WorldBench 6. It also comes with a capacious 500GB hard drive.

Given the business credentials of the Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B laptop, we were somewhat surprised to find an nVidia GeForce 310M graphics chip inside, capable of delivering acceptable gaming results and certainly faster than any other in this round-up when it comes to 3D graphics. Sadly, nVidia’s auto-switching Optimus technology isn’t supported, so you’ll have to remember to turn it on and off manually when needed in order to preserve battery life. This is unfortunately the Vaio’s weak suit managing only 298 minutes under MobileMark 2007.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

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Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B: Specs

  • 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 460M
  • 13.3in glossy 1366x768 display
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 6GB DDR3-1066 RAM
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • nVidia GeForce 310M with 512MB VRAM
  • VGA, HDMI
  • Stereo speakers, headphone jack, mic jack
  • 3x USB 2.0
  • 1x FireWire 400
  • DVD±RW DL 8x
  • 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 3G modem
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • MS Duo slot, SD slot, ExpressCard 34
  • 0.3MP webcam, fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard, docking station interface
  • 54Wh Li-Ion removable
  • 329x228.5x27.6mm
  • 1986g
  • 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 460M
  • 13.3in glossy 1366x768 display
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 6GB DDR3-1066 RAM
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • nVidia GeForce 310M with 512MB VRAM
  • VGA, HDMI
  • Stereo speakers, headphone jack, mic jack
  • 3x USB 2.0
  • 1x FireWire 400
  • DVD±RW DL 8x
  • 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 3G modem
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • MS Duo slot, SD slot, ExpressCard 34
  • 0.3MP webcam, fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard, docking station interface
  • 54Wh Li-Ion removable
  • 329x228.5x27.6mm
  • 1986g

OUR VERDICT

Although not exactly inexpensive, the Sony Vaio VPCS13V9E/B costs a good deal less than Toshiba’s Tecra M11-17W. However unless you’re into a bit of gaming on the weekend you could probably save even more money by going for a model without the nVidia graphics.

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