There's no denying the fact that Apple's MacBook Pro notebooks are sleek and sexy slabs of aluminum and glass that make rival PC notebooks appear cheap and flimsy. Guess what? We went hands-on with Sony's new VAIO S Series laptops and we got to say, they bring sexy back to PC notebooks, without skimping on performance.
Make no mistake, Sony's S Series notebooks are taking direct aim at Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pros. On paper, the S Series easily beats the MBP. If we were to compare the two, Sony's S Series would smoke the MacBook Pro in pretty much every department.
Want a powerful processor? How does a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-2620M processor capable of Turbo Boosting up to 3.4GHz sound? Want powerful graphics for demanding apps? The S Series have AMD Radeon HD 6630 1GB Hybrid Graphics with 1GB of VRAM.
The All-Day Battery
Want a battery that will last all day? The S Series' default battery will last 7.5 hours. It's only 30 minutes more than the 13-inch MBP, but slap on an optional "Sheet Battery" ($150) and that figure shoots up to 15 hours. The Sheet Battery might seem like a regular external battery, but there's one thing about it that rocks: it's intelligent. When the Sheet Battery is attached to the S Series notebook, the computer recognizes it and starts draining the juice from it first. By sucking the life out of the Sheet Battery first, users won't need to worry about having insufficient power from the main battery when they want to ditch the pack.
Cramping the MacBook Pro's Style
It doesn't end there. Does a MacBook Pro have a 13.3-inch matte screen with 1600x900 resolution, dual-channel solid state disks, one-button booting directly to the Web browser (bypassing long Windows logins), a Blu-ray drive, biometric fingerprint scanner, Exmor webcam with face tracking for video chatting under low lighting and Intel Wireless Display 2.0 technology to beam multimedia to a larger monitor without any cables?
No? We didn't think so. Don't forget the S Series also has two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 socket, an HDMI and VGA port and dual slots for taking Sony's proprietary Memory Stick and standard SD cards — all packaged in a chassis that only weighs 3.8 pounds (13-inch MBP weighs 4.5 pounds) and is 0.95-inches thick.
Now that we're finished yapping about the tech specs, the ultimate question is how much this bad boy is going to cost you. Where Sony used to charge upwards of $3,000 (T-Series anyone?) for a light, powerful and fast notebook, the S Series is priced at a competitive $1,350 to start (custom configs will drive that price higher). Sure, Apple's 13-inch MBP starts at $1,200, but for the extra $150, it's hard to argue that Sony's not cramming a lot in its S Series.
Overall, we're extremely excited with Sony's new notebooks. This is how a PC notebook should look and feel — strong, light and powerful. In our hands, the S Series felt like a very professional machine. It never felt like a cheap $600 HP or Dell, because well, it's cut from magnesium and aluminum, so naturally it'd feel like a sturdy notebook that would be able to withstand a beating from daily transport.
If you like what you see after checking out the gallery shots below, then you're in luck, because Sony's accepting pre-orders starting today over at the Sony Style Store.