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Sony Vaio F series: Fast is the new shiny

At CES 2010, we witnessed countless laptop manufacturers desperately trying to innovate their way out of a recession -- not Sony. It just yelled, "More power!" and laughed maniacally

Rory Reid
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At CES 2010, we witnessed countless laptop manufacturers desperately trying to innovate their way out of a recession. Some were painting theirs with funky colours, while others adorned theirs with fancy audiophile speakers -- but not Sony. If its F series is anything to go by, its idea of innovation is yelling, "More power!" and laughing maniacally.

The F series is master of most trades. It's capable of editing video, playing games and functioning as a Blu-ray writer and playback device. The top of the line F (X) series has a 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 8GB of DDR3 1,066MHz memory and up to 640GB of disk space. There's a slightly slower model, known as the F (V) series, but that's no slouch either, thanks to its dual-core Core i5 CPU and a 6GB memory ceiling.

Both editions get some pretty potent graphics. Their 16.4-inch displays are stunning to behold and have sprawling 1,920x1,080-pixel resolutions -- perfect for playing Full HD Blu-ray movies on the 6x BD-R drive. Running games approaching such a high resolution is possible, too, thanks to a relatively potent Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics card, which has 1GB of dedicated GDDR3 graphics memory.

On the whole, the F series' equipment list paints a pretty picture, but numbers don't tell the full story. During our brief spell with the machine, it presented itself as a solidly built, beautifully designed machine that, despite being grey (or optional black), oozed sex appeal. We also loved its near-perfect chiclet keyboard -- which is backlit to allow accurate use in day or nighttime conditions -- and the dedicated numerical keypad for no-nonsense number punching.

The F series is available to buy today direct from Sony. The entry-level model will set you back a modest £759, while the Core i7 monster begins at £1,029. Keep it locked to CNET UK for full reviews as soon as test units become available.

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Despite being grey, the F series is as hard as reinforced nails. It'll run all the latest 3D titles, spit out Blu-ray movies with one arm tied behind its back, and encode HD like a full-blooded desktop PC.
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The keyboard is large, comfortable and comes with a dedicated numerical keypard -- perfect for filling out those tedious expense forms.
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The keyboard is backlit, so you can use it in the dark just as accurately as you can in broad daylight.
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To the right, the F series gets mic plus headphone and S/PDIF audio jacks, two USB ports and a Blu-ray writer drive.
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The left gets ExpressCard, an eSata/USB combo port, HDMI out, D-Sub video out and Ethernet.

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