Flicking the switch across to Stamina mode and opting for 50 per cent screen brightness and no active applications produced a much more reassuring time of 7 hours 56 minutes, suggesting that the battery nestled under the keyboard is actually more capable than the first impression suggested.
Stylish looks, but not OTT
The word 'nestled' really is appropriate, as the SB is the latest in a string of laptops with a battery that can’t be detached simply by unlatching a few spring-loaded catches. You need to remove a plastic panel on the underside instead. It’s not terribly onerous - there are only two screws and no muscle involved. Those who want more battery life without digging in their laptop’s innards can buy an external battery that clips to the bottom of the chassis for £100.
The SB is pretty well covered for ports: a single USB 3.0 joins a pair of 2.0 ports, while the HDMI and VGA ports cover pretty much all output eventualities. Two separate slots cater for SD and Memory Stick cards. There’s no mic jack, so you can only connect a pair of headphones.
There is a good array of ports on the SB's thick sides
My review model came with a multi-format DVD writer, although in return for a somewhat steep £350 you can specify a Blu-ray drive. Sony has followed Apple’s lead on the method for ejecting the drive, using a button above the keyboard. It’s non-standard but works well, and the drive will pop open whenever you press the button, even if Windows hasn't started booting.
You can spec in a 3G modem for £100, and there are a range of SSD and HDD storage options on offer. Pick the SKU that's right for you.
The Sony SB series is an interesting system. It’s heavier and chunkier than the 13.3in MacBook Air, but cheaper. It's lighter than the 13.3in MacBook Pro - 1.6kg to 2.0kg - and has more than either Apple. As a handy, portable machine that will take almost anything you can throw at it it’s ideal. It's just a shame it's so darn noisy. ®
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Sony Vaio SB 13.3in notebook
16:9 is a stupid ratio on a small screen unless you're only using it to watch films. And if all you're doing is watching films then you can buy a portable DVD player for much less money.
If 16:9 is good because it's better for films then maybe we should be using 1:2.35 screens on our laptops.
A 3:2 aspect screen would probably be a good ratio. The most important thing is that it's possible to buy screens with a sensible number of vertical pixels. Modern software can make use of high resolution screens. Windows has DPI settings so that the gui appears the correct size. Websites can be zoomed to make them readable but everything is nice and sharp.
My phone has a 3.7" screen with 800x480 resolution, I want that kind of DPI level on my laptop.
Sony have been using chiclet keyboards for as long as Apple, maybe longer. This keyboard has a significantly different layout to a Mac, and the recessing is about as different as it could be.
There seem to be plenty of reasons in this review to not buy this laptop (90 minutes battery life!), but looking too much like an MBP really isn't one of them
apple hate = dull
Apple have a thorough configurator on their site.
headphone jack is a combo jack :P
If you noticed, a lot of notebooks are starting to use the combined audio jack type used on smartphones, so you don't have to fiddle with a Y adapter anymore to hook your headset into a computer.
So yes, there is a mic jack. But if you want to use an older PC headset, you'll need to use an adapter now, combining your two plugs into one.
What's going on with the Vaio keyboards?
I almost bought a Vaio last year. Then I tried the keyboard and was horrified. I opted for a slightly heavier Lenovo instead.