X

Sony Vaio NS140E review: Sony Vaio NS140E

Sony Vaio NS140E

matt-headshot-3
Matt Elliott
matt-headshot-3

Matt Elliott

Matt Elliott, a technology writer for more than a decade, is a PC tester and Mac user based in New Hampshire.

See full bio
6 min read

Editors' note, December 4, 2008: We have corrected this review to remove mention of the laptop featuring Bluetooth. It does not include a Bluetooth antenna.

6be16b65-f571-478a-81ab-07a7b4f231a6.jpg
7.2

Sony Vaio NS140E

The Good

Competitive performance; lengthy battery life; great keyboard and touch pad; receives Webcam and Gigabit Ethernet in latest upgrade.

The Bad

Loud, clacky mouse buttons; no media control keys; AV Mode button is largely useless.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to its low-cost, solid construction, roomy and comfortable keyboard, and current Intel platform, the Sony Vaio VGN-NS140E is a 15-inch mainstream laptop worthy of your consideration.

Editors' note, October 27, 2008: This review is part of our Holiday 2008 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.

The Vaio VGN-NS140E represents a minor update to Sony's previous 15-inch NR line. Nearly identical to the Vaio VGN-NR498 we reviewed in July, the NS140E is another fixed-configuration retail model that features the same strong, textured plastic shell and excellent keyboard and moves to a more recent Intel chipset, while adding a Webcam and Gigabit Ethernet to the mix. More impressive than the new additions is the price. The NR498 carried a $849 list price, and the NS140 comes in at $799, and serves up a current Intel chipset and Core 2 Duo (though it falls short of Intel's current cream of the mobile crop, Centrino 2). We liked the previous version three months ago, and though we still think any Sony system should come outfitted with media control keys, we like the Vaio NS140 even more than the NR laptops it replaces for offering a bit more power--and a Webcam--at a lower price.

Price $799
Processor 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800
Memory 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz
Hard drive 250GB, 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GM45 Express
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD (integrated)
Operating system Windows Vista Premium
Dimensions (WDH) 14.2 x 10.6 x 1.5 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.4 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 6.1 / 6.8 pounds
Category Mainstream

The Vaio NS140 features a textured plastic shell, both on the lid and inside on the keyboard tray. The NS140E/W model is white; you can also get it in blue or silver. The laptop feels solid, with little flex that is sometime evident on cheaper laptops with thin, plastic chassis. The two hinges holding the display are wide and strong, resulting in little to no wobble when the laptop is bumped or moved.

More importantly, the keyboard is the same flat Sony keyboard we've come to know and love. The keys are flat--similar in feel to a MacBook's--and feature good travel. The touch pad, too, is comfortable and amply sized with responsive vertical and horizontal scroll areas along the right and bottom, respectively. The two mouse buttons, however, make a loud clack sound when pressed.

Though the Vaio NS140's keyboard tray leaves plenty of room for multimedia control keys--something most media-consuming students will come to appreciate, we believe--you won't find any here. We're seeing such controls on more and more laptops, even at the low-end of the price spectrum. For example, Dell's entry-level Inspiron 1525 features touch-sensitive media control keys. Aside from the power button, you'll find only two buttons above the NS140's keyboard: a mute key and a button labeled AV Mode. The mute key can be reprogrammed, while the AV Mode button launches a useless Vaio media app that lets you choose among various multimedia programs to access your music or photos or play a DVD. You're better off just choosing an app from the Start menu or simply creating a desktop shortcut. The AV Mode button does not allow for instant-on access. That is, you cannot play a CD or DVD without first booting to Windows.

Preloaded shovelware is kept in check; the trial offers have been whittled down to four AOL desktop icons, one of which, however, is animated.

The 15.4-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,280x800 native resolution, which is typical of a display this size, though some vendors, including Dell, offer a finer 1,440x900 resolution option on configurable models. The Vaio NS140 features Sony's Xbrite-Eco screen, which we found to be crisp and vivid--movies and photos showed accurate colors, crisp edges, and smooth movement. In anecdotal testing, we found it to be less bright than other laptops, but at max brightness, the image looked fine under a variety of conditions. It features a glossy screen coating, but it wasn't as prone to glare and reflections as other glossy screens we've seen. And it offers a surprisingly wide viewing angle.

A laptop's integrated stereo speakers will never fill a room to a pleasing degree, but we must say that the Vaio NS140's do an admirable job. At maximum volume, the output is louder than usual and suffers from little distortion. You'll be able to enjoy movies without reaching for your headphones, and perhaps even a little music, as long as you aren't the head-banging type or require heavy bass.

  Sony Vaio VGN-NS140E Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA-out, Webcam VGA-out, S-video, Webcam
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, MemoryStick, SD card readers 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

The Vaio NS140 provides the basic allotment of connections. While many mainstream models are serving up HDMI or DisplayPort connections, the Vaio NS140 sticks with the tried-and-true VGA-out should you want to hook up an external monitor. We were pleased to find four USB ports conveniently split with a pair on each side of the laptop. On the front edge, next to the SD and Memory Card slots, is an always appreciated Wi-Fi on/off switch. Two new features not found on the previous NR series models make an appearance on the NS140: a Webcam and Gigabit Ethernet.

The Sony Vaio NS140 features a standard mainstream config of a Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 processor, 3GB of 800MHz memory, and a 250GB hard drive. The largest changes from the previous Vaio NR498 is the NS140's use of the Intel GM45 Express chipset and accompanying Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics. This more recent chipset features an 800MHz frontside bus, and allows the system to use 800MHz DDR2 memory; the NR498 model ran on a slower 677MHz frontside bus. The result was a slight 3 or 4 percent performance boost on CNET Labs application benchmarks. Overall, the Vaio NS140 performed on a par with competing models that feature the same Intel T5800 processor and far outpaced similarly priced AMD-based laptops from HP and Toshiba. The Intel-based HP Pavilion dv4-1125nr enjoyed a considerable 20-percent advantage over the NS140 on our Photoshop CS3 benchmark, due in large part to its use of 64-bit Vista and 4GB of memory. But for general, mainstream use, the Sony Vaio NS140 serves up ample performance.

The Vaio NS140 ran for an impressive 3 hours, 37 minutes on CNET Labs' battery drain test, which bested the NR498 by 21 minutes. Our video playback battery drain test is fairly grueling, so you can expect the laptop to run longer by tweaking the power management settings.

Though purchased at retail, Sony's basic one-year parts-and-labor warranty applies to the Vaio NS140. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, and an online knowledge base and driver downloads for this specific model can be found at Sony's support site.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Sony Vaio VGN-NS140E
1,003 
HP G60-125NR
1,501 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Sony Vaio VGN-NS140E
219 
HP G60-125NR
277 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Sony Vaio VGN-NS140E
214 
HP G60-125NR
224 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Sony Vaio VGN-NS140E
217 
HP G60-125NR
118 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:
HP G60-125NR Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz AMD Turion Dual-Core RM-70; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8200M G; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion dv4-1125nr Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio VGN-NS140E/W Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 4500MHD; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio VGN-NR498 E/W Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750; 3072MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite A305-S6872 Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 4500MHD; 250GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7825 Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz AMD Turion Dual-Core TL-60; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon X1250; 250GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

6be16b65-f571-478a-81ab-07a7b4f231a6.jpg
7.2

Sony Vaio NS140E

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Battery 7Support 7
laptop
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping