Sony forum


Buying new Sony laptop - would love your advice

by leygia / May 2, 2013 3:57 AM PDT


I apologize in advance for the long post, but I'm obviously a tad retentive about getting this right - I'll be staring at this laptop for 5 years!!

I'm purchasing a new Sony laptop and am ready to knock my head against a wall. I need to actually make a decision and would soooo love some advice from a Sony expert, so would really appreciate any help you can offer.

Further down is some basic info of my needs, but here's some general background:

1) I'm replacing my beloved 13" vgn-z820 that died. However, this is my first time buying a computer as the vgn was a gift (pretty cool, eh?) Fortunately it had the grace to pass on right before the extended warranty ended, so Microcenter gave me a $1550 in-store only gift card - it needs to cover both the computer and extended warranty.

2) Microcenter is clearing out their current stock of Sony, but don't yet have the new stuff. Oddly, no one seems to know when they'll stock the new models or what they'll be. So.....

3) My best options appear to be:

1.SVZ1311AFXX: Sony VAIO SVZ1311AFXX 13.1" Laptop Computer - Carbon Fiber Black SVZ1311AFXX - Micro Center
i5 3210m, 8G/8G ram, 128 SSD, 1920x1600, Intel HD 4000 6.5 hr battery
orig $1599. Only option is open box: $950-$1232 depending on warranty balance (probably 3-76months)

2. SVS13A25PBX: Sony VAIO SVS13A25PXB 13.3" Laptop Computer - Carbon Fiber Black SVS13A25PXB - Micro Center
i7 3520 4G cache, 12G/12G ram, 256 SSD, 1600x900, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE with 2G mem, 4.5 hr battery
orig $1699, only option open box: $1274 (5-6 months warranty)

3. SVS13A18GXB: Sony VAIO SVS13A18GXB 13.3" Laptop Computer - Carbon Fiber Black SVS13A18GXB - Micro Center
i7 3520, 8G/12G ram, 1600x900, 640G 7200 rpm, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE with 1G mem, 7 hr battery
orig $1549 available new $1016


1) Budget: Up to $1550 including the extended warranty from Microcenter (no choice - it's store credit)

2) Size: 13" (13.3) is an absolute. I tried out the 14" Lenovo T430s and it's too big. This is literally a "lap"top

3) Screen: Non-glossy/reflective screen with a 1600x900 or 1920x1080. This is my one (or three) absolutes. My eyes need the non-glossy and high resolution crispness - they're fine with small text as long as it is crisp and clear. In addition to the obvious viewing experience, what I like about the 1920x1080 is the extra real estate for excel and side-by-side documents and that I can change it to 1600x900 if my eyes are overworked /over tired. However, my 1080p option is the z...fxx. I did just fine with the 1600x900 for the last 3 years, so am not tied to the 1080p, but the screen is really important..

4) Use: Personal and business. Word, Excel, Publisher, internet, basic photo editing. Publisher is for business pamphlets etc.

I also created (and will soon be overhauling) and manage my own my website. Right now it is built in Adobe Muse (beta) but don't know if I'll subscribe to Muse or recreate it with something else.

Occasional movie / tv series. Youtube.

Not a gamer. Will sometimes play games like those on I can see doing more of that, but not the genuine "gamer" games.

Typically have multiple windows from multiple programs open at once - 5-7 is not unusual and 10+ is not unheard of.

5) This is a desktop replacement, although not on an actual desk: I'll travel with it occasionally but mostly use it on my couch / comfy chair. I take the "lap" in laptop literally!

6) OS: Win 7 or 8 - don't care.

7) HD Space: right now, my files (only, no programs) are 18G, ~8 of which are pix and music that could come off. I expect this to grow but I'll certainly never need a terabyte!!

Cool DVD burner: I need the burner but will use an external if the laptop is "worthy."

9) I'd like to keep the laptop for ~5 years.


Couple Questions (in addition to advice on the actual laptop), if you don't mind too much: (um, I know I'm getting greedy for info - sorry about that,,,)

1) What do you think of an open box (returned, not refurbished) since I'll get an extended warranty and make sure it was only bought / returned once. I only the get balance of the manufacturer warranty. Flipside - the only unopened box option is the SVS13A18GXB

2) Extended warranty - 2 options: 1) 2 yr ACD concurrent with the manufacturer warranty, so 2 yrs total or 2 yr, 2) 2-yr extension to Sony's warranty (or whatever is left of it on an open box), but no ACD. Extension and ACD not an option.

3) If you recommend the FXX, is it solid? Salesperson said that the screen cracks easily, but Sony said it's solid....

4) For my use, how big a deal is the i5 (w/ ssd) versus the i7 (with or without ssd

5) Is it a big deal to upgrade either the 128G SSD or mechanical drive to 256 SSD (although it negates the warranty so would have to wait until the warranty runs out. Certainly don't need it now or soon or likely ever, but you never know.... ).

6) Is there that much working difference between the 2 resolutions? It's one thing to look at it for a couple minutes in a darkened laptop gallery, flipping back and forth between the 2 resolutions (can't do side-by-side because they're tied down), and an entirely different cat to actually use it.

7) Is S series screen the same quality as my vgn-z and if not, does it matter to the "viewing experience"?

Cool Given my usage, how important is the graphics card?

I'd be grateful for some help. The amount of time I've spent on this has crossed into the ridiculous and now I'm just flitting aimlessly between the 3 sonys ;-/.

Thank you so much!

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All Answers

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I'd simplify this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 2, 2013 4:07 AM PDT

Not one maker seems to offer more than 2 years warranty so to expect 5 years with some pre-bought warranty screams that you may get ripped off by a non-maker warranty. I have no kind words for 3rd party warranty as many simply refund your warranty money if the unit costs more to repair than the warranty you paid in advance. Don't laugh, that was in a recent warranty contract I read.

You know what you want so for me all 3 are OK candidates but seem on the high end of price. I can see where you are coming from with the lock-in on where you can buy and then your needs.

Item 1's specs look wrong to me. You wrote "1920x1600" but,-Z-Series,-3rd-gen-Intel,-Core-i5,-Solid-State-Drive,-SSD,-Business/en/p/SVZ1311AFXX#specifications disagrees.

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Re: I'd simplify this - New!
by leygia / May 2, 2013 4:24 AM PDT
In reply to: I'd simplify this.

Hi Bob,

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!

1) Warranty: wow - just goes to show to always read before you sign! I had the extended warranty from Microcenter on my vgn-z and when the motherboard and CPU became unstable, they gave me a gift card for $1550, the original price of the laptop. However I can get an extra year if I go with Sony - is Sony worth it?

2) Is the current price high, or just the original? [SVS1311AFXX: open box $950-$1232 depending on remaining Sony warranty. SVS13A25PBX: open box $1274 5-6 month remaining Sony warranty SVS13A18GXB: $1016 new.

3) screen spec: oops, typo. Yes, 1920x1080..

Simplify - not my strength LOL! New - do you mean take the SVS13A18GXB with i7, mechanical HD, 1600x900?

Thank you,

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Let me share my last Sony repair.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 2, 2013 4:34 AM PDT

Some slam Sony but here I know they can't support "windows" as we all know, no one really does today. But my story is a family member had a sad PS3 that would lock up in 5 minutes. The screen looked classic to me like a heat issue but they had never taken care with the unit and it showed with cracked plastics and clogged vents.

I gave it a good cleaning and while it ran longer, it was still ill. So off to the sony web page for repair and there's a flat rate repair system. Some slam sony on the price but for 150 bucks I received a box with instructions in 2 days. Then off to the UPS counter (just drop it off, no further fees.) I was worried since it was so beat up but the repaired unit arrived 7 days later.

We opened it up and it was good as new as they seem to re-furb then swap in the users HDD then do a quick test and send it out. -> The replacement had what looked like all new plastics. <-

That was years ago and I think Sony has the repair system nailed.

The i5 or i7 question is almost moot as both are dual core units. The GPU does vary but for me the one with dedicated RAM would assure me it won't be a performance issue.


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PS. with such a high display DPI.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 2, 2013 4:47 AM PDT

I think Windows 8 has the edge here. But at the office the very first thing we did was install Classic Shell to get back to work.

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Classic shell?
by leygia / May 2, 2013 5:41 AM PDT

um - you're a couple levels beyond my computer knowledge. My geekiness resides in the math realm....

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Re: Let me share my last Sony repair
by leygia / May 2, 2013 5:35 AM PDT

It sounds like you had a great Sony experience (unlike my absolute disaster with Dell late 90s - the onsite technician actually used a magnetized screwdriver on the motherboard and quite literally warped it as well as the casing - and that was only representative of my Dell nightmare... never, ever, ever again!!!!!)

The Sony and Microcenter warranty terms are essentially the same - once they've done repairs worth the original price of the unit, you are SOL. So, the trade-off for Microcenter's on-site advantage (and their service realy has been great) is Sony's cheaper and longer timeframe.

As for the i5 / i7 dedicated GPU... um, what is GPU? Is that the graphics card processor? If so, does it make a huge difference since I'm not a gamer (i.e. is it worth the trade-off for the presumably better Z- series 1920x1080 screen vs the S's 1600x900)?


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GPU is Graphics Processor Unit, Classic Shell...
by wpgwpg / May 2, 2013 6:04 AM PDT to give Windows 8 a Start button like we've had in Windows since the 95 version. It makes a lot of sense if you get Windows 8, and it's free.
Good luck.

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Thank you!
by leygia / May 2, 2013 6:57 AM PDT

Thanks, Bob.... I'll let you know what I end up with....


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