1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
UPDATED AGAIN: MANY ISSUES TO KNOW ABOUT
, October 22, 2013
Updated again: Sony finally issued a BIOS update that seems to have fixed the WiFi issue on my laptop. This laptop is still very sensitive to interference in overlapping multiple WiFi networks but at least now I can actually get online.
Sony sent me a box to ship back the laptop because of another problem: the laptop will neither shut down nor return to operation after automatic screen darkening (which usually defaults to a few minutes without use). For now I am using it as-is with screen save turned off completely because I don't want the disruption of being without the laptop for weeks and because my interactions with Sony strongly suggest it won't get fixed even if I send it in. Every time I talk to them they seem to think it's a problem returning from "Sleep" mode, even though that is unrelated.
Further, the auto-brightness sensor on this laptop appears to be messed up, it endlessly changes brightness even when set explicitly to NOT use the sensor. I settled upon covering the sensor with multiple layers of tape.
Frankly the form factor, weight, and battery life remain stunning enough that I kind of like owning it but I wouldn't recommend this laptop to anyone because of the many hours of support work and the fact that it still has lots of bizarre problems.
Okay, you can read my original glowing review below. That was my first impression the first weekend.
Now I have (tried) to use it for a couple weeks and I can report the rumored Wi-Fi problem is very real. The laptop has buggy Wi-Fi and even the Sony phone support people know it. I've gotten to know them very well because my laptop has no wi-Fi capbility on 5 of 6 evenings. It has been getting worse and now only gets Wi-Fi when within a few feet of the router.
I just got off the phone with Sony support and they need to do *another* BIOS upgrade to try and fix it but Sony's servers are down so I get to call in again tomorrow and sit on the phone some more. I've already been told this is the last try then they'll send me a USB Wi-Fi adapter. The support guy opened up to me and said this happens a lot. The USB Wi-Fi adapter, one presumes from the details of the USB spec and such, will presumably kill that great battery life I liked.
During the support process I've also been treated to many failed restarts with 10 minutes of waiting followed by an error screen and "POWER_DRIVER_STATE_FAILURE" messages.
Also, the screen brightness changes disappear after less than a minute, it's stuck on full brightness even on battery.
There's other strange stuff too, generally I loved this thing the first night and it's pretty, but I've wasted 8+ hours on updates and trying to get it running well and now I need to go review Amazon's return policies. I really, really, wanted this thing to work!
Former Title: Gorgeous hardware, super fast boot/shutdown, very long battery life + observations on the Wi-Fi controversy
Background: I'm a PhD electrical engineer/computer scientist and developer and consulting professional
I bought this laptop from Amazon and have now had it for a week. I carefully reviewed options and it came down to this laptop or buying a Macbook Air as I really wanted light weight, long battery life, and fast. After a week of intense work on the machine including updating to Windows 8.1, installing an extensive Python development environment, and doing work on a lot of different software (including LibreOffice), I have come to love this laptop. And I am a tough customer to please!
Things you will LOVE:
- HARDWARE: Astonishingly thin and light and I genuinely like the look of it. It took a little getting used to but the character and look is nice and there are a number of nice small touches like the little clear "winglets" at the bottom screen edge that turn out to be support feet when you unfold it.
- BOOTUP/SHUTDOWN: This was one of the most pleasant surprises! Most reviews of this laptop barely touch on the fact that it is fast to start and stop. The startup is easily as fast as my chromebooks or a macbook air and startup is just a couple seconds. Together with the very light weight and very good battery it has changed my approach to computing as there is now no overhead or minimum effort needed to start it up and use it. I can access my Sony VAIO Pro just as fast as going to the iPad when I need to jump into Amazon to buy something, so I use this laptop a lot more than my others.
-TOUCHSCREEN: I've been on the bandwagon that WINDOWS 8 was a mistake to insist on touch but it really works here. This was another surprise to me. The high quality and accuracy on the Sony together with the fact a laptop is close enough and well positioned for touch makes it more handy to just use touch rather than mouse or touchpad for a lot of things like accepting ToS, moving icons, or even using the menus in desktop mode apps. I was very surprised by this. Until this laptop I disapproved of touch sense screens on laptops/desktops.
-BATTERY LIFE: One of my goals was to have a light laptop with enough battery life that I can put the charger in my checked bags. This laptop fits the bill. I just finished a weekend torture test where I ran on battery from Friday night to Monday morning (not continuously, obviously). I did a lot of coding, a fair amount of web browsing, and lots of document review (over 80 pages). My particular work style turned in over 8 hours of battery life, so the Sony engineers have put together an excellent system of SSD and power savings. A nice review on Anandtech after I ordered found that the work-time per battery watt-hour of this laptop are astonishingly good.
Things that could be better:
-WI-FI: There is a lot of online argument about the WI-FI on this laptop so I've been carefully characterizing it everywhere. I have found that the WiFi is normally quite good *except* when sitting within about 5 feet of another, older, laptop that is accessing the same Wi-Fi on a direction that passes *through* the Sony VAIO. In that case the connection fits the online complaints perfectly with sub Mbps rates and infuriatingly long latency (e.g. pulling up Google Search takes ~7 seconds). This is the only scenario where I have found a problem and I am able to eliminate it by moving 10 feet. Additionally I found that the same spot next to the other laptop doesn't create a problem if I change Wi-Fi access points. This was infuriating when it happened (and is the only reason I don't give 5 stars) but now that I understand how to eliminate the problem I haven't had to deal with it.
-SCREEN ANGLE: I'm kind of mid-tall (not huge, above average) and find that if the laptop is sitting on my lap I have to tilt the laptop back because the screen doesn't bend back enough. Minor issue.
Overall this laptop is just a great game changer. The battery life is incredible and the startup time so fast that the two of those traits together make this laptop a practical replacement for grabbing the iPad when I want to get online for a few seconds and do something. Additionally, I can leave my programming environment going and hibernate the laptop and just open it up to code for a couple minutes while the kids are busy and I'm waiting. I wasn't able to do this before because my other laptops take too long to boot, are too heavy to have handy, and don't have the battery life to start up 20 times in a weekend.
Great laptop! I was worried about windows 8 and touch but this laptop makes them work really well do to high quality of build and very long battery life. I'm way more pleased than I expected!
I will update this as I find more details people may be interested in, feel free to ask questions.