Sony Vaio S series (VPC-S13V9E/B) review: Sony Vaio S series (VPC-S13V9E/B)

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The Good Fast processor; decent battery life; good build quality; great keyboard.

The Bad Average graphics performance; screen resolution could be better; expensive.

The Bottom Line The Sony Vaio VPC-S13V9E/B offers good performance and some neat features, such as an onboard mobile-broadband modem. But we're not sure this 13.3-inch laptop warrants its hefty price tag.

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7.5 Overall

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Sony reckons the Vaio VPC-S13V9E/B is equally suited to work and play, thanks to its powerful processor, integrated mobile-broadband modem and dedicated Nvidia graphics chip. This 13.3-inch ultra-portable laptop is available for around £1,000, but is it worth the high asking price?

Likes a pie

For an ultra-portable laptop, the VPC-S13V9E/B is quite thick and wide, measuring 330 by 28 by 229mm. It's not exactly a featherweight either, tipping the scales at 2kg. Many other ultra-portables come in under the 1.5kg mark.

Nevertheless, the laptop feels remarkably sturdy and the masculine design looks quite the business. Like the F-series machine that we looked at recently, this model has rounded screen hinges that house a power socket on the left-hand side and a glowing power button on the right.

Like other Sony laptops, the VPC-S13V9E/B uses a keyboard with isolated keys. The keyboard is firmly anchored into the chassis, with the result that there's almost no flex at all in the centre. This, combined with the wide spacing between the keys, makes it feel very responsive. In fact, we'd rate it as one of the best keyboards we've come across on a 13-inch laptop. The keyboard is also backlit, with the lighting controlled via an ambient light sensor, so it only turns itself on when needed.

The trackpad is excellent too. Not only is it quite roomy, but the twin buttons are solid and responsive. Nestled between the two buttons, you'll find a fingerprint reader.

The VPC-S13V9E/B's display has a glossy, rather than matte, coating. We found it was quite reflective, especially when used indoors with bright lights overhead. But the glossy coating does help the screen to produce very rich and vivid colours, so it's something of a trade-off.

The screen's native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels is pretty average, however, with some netbooks now offering the same. Viewing angles are generally good, though, so, if you want to share a movie with a friend on a train or a plane, there shouldn't be any problems.

Sony has kitted the laptop out with a fairly generous 500GB hard drive and there's a DVD writer tucked into the right-hand side of the chassis. You also get both Memory Stick and SD card slots at the front, which will come in handy when transferring photos from a digital camera.

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