The Sony VAIO F13M0E/B crams a lot into its 16.4 inch frame. It's a bit of a dull, grey lump, but while it may not be as stylish as some of its competitors here or many other VAIO models, its capabilities far outshine its appearance.
The Sony VAIO F13M0E/B's keyboard is nicely spaced and easy to use with a full numeric keypad and dedicated media transport controls.
There's a handy wireless on/off switch at the front and at the top is a row of programmable buttons which can be set up using Sony's easy-to-use software. Default actions are set up to provide instant help via the “assist” button and system information via the “SI” button. Pressing the Sony VAIO F13M0E/B's “VAIO” button plunges you into Sony's full-screen Media gallery environment which brings together your photos, music and videos in a pleasantly slick interface.
With a display resolution of 1600x900 pixels you get considerably more screen to play with and also the ability to display content in much higher quality. While this falls short of the full-HD 1920x1080 resolution offered by the Acer system, you'd be hard pushed to spot the difference when viewing HD content due to the Sony VAIO F13M0E/B's reduced physical size.
Full HD movies look super sharp when using the Sony VAIO F13M0E/B's built-in Blu-ray player, although we felt the colours weren't quite as good as what we saw from the Acer laptop.
The Sony VAIO F13M0E/B's stereo sound system is adequate, although you wouldn't choose to listen to much music through these speakers. They're rather lacking in bass, although overall they provided clearer sound and better midrange than either the HP or Samsung models could achieve.
Although hidden from view most of the time, the top of the Windows desktop houses an application dock which bulges down from the top of the screen as your mouse approaches, an attempt to copy Mac OS X's Dock. We can see why Sony felt compelled to copy – it's an impressively slick animation which provides shortcuts to some genuinely useful applications here, including cut-down versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. Sony has provided a lot of software enhancements with the Sony VAIO F13M0E/B, but has done well in keeping them unobtrusive and well integrated into the system.
The quad-core 1.73GHz Intel Core i7-740QM makes the Sony VAIO F13M0E/B one of the faster systems in the group, achieving 110 points in WorldBench 6, while the nVidia GeForce GT425M graphics deliver equally good graphics performance.
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