Sony has always been good at making laptops, or any kind of electronics, really. But their Vaio line is the most well known in the computer world, and a lot of the times, it was compared to Apple’s MacBooks, while also being priced accordingly (in fact, a lot of Vaio laptops are still more expensive than MacBook Pros, believe it or not).
The Vaio F used to include relatively big laptops that could be used as desktop replacements, but were still small and light enough to be carried around – the most notable of the series were the FW and F11 models, with their unique 16.4 inch display, high build quality and performance in a relatively small and light package (for a DTR).
But now, it seems that the F series will move on to bigger and more powerful things, or more specifically real desktop replacements and entertainment machines. If the first model for the new direction is any example, it looks like Sony is doing everything right – the Vaio F 3D is a beast of a machine and possibly the best entertainment laptop on the market.
Exterior design and build quality
The Vaio F 3D is a departure from the usual Sony design when it comes to the exterior. With its jagged, slightly mismatched industrial finish, it looks more like an Alienware, although that’s a bit of a stretch – it has a pretty unique look, which you’ll either love or hate. The display hinge opens farther away than a lot of laptops, so the screen is lower when working, which is a bit problematic as you’ll most probably find yourself hunching over it when working or playing games. When closed, the lid doesn’t cover the base fully, instead leaving a “lip”, much like the Motorola Droid smartphone, for example.
The island style keyboard looks and works pretty well, and the unique looking palm rest makes it even better. The touchpad is pretty good, especially if you have sweaty or oily hands, since it’s not glossy, so it works well under all circumstances. There’s nothing else to note about the design, with the glossy lid and big VAIO logo on it being the only remaining thing – the rest is just black glossy and matte plastic. The build quality is great, even though the laptop is mostly plastic – that’s most likely because of its thickness, but for a desktop replacement it’s OK.
Display, ports and features
The 16 inch display is again unique to Sony and makes this entertainment machine small enough to be carried even in a bag made for 15.4 inch laptops, although the 7 pounds weight will stop you from wanting to do it regularly. The 1920×1080 pixels resolution and LED backlight provides a great picture, with good brightness and contrast. The big feature is of course, its 3D capability (as you could tell from the name), which is very good. It’s not a glasses-free 3D display, but if you want the best 3D effect, there’s no better alternative at the moment.
You can watch movies and play games in 3D with a pretty good immersion – the games are especially cool with a good audio system (at least a pair of good stereo speakers placed properly in the room) – the integrated speakers are great for a laptop, but not for serious gaming, movies or music. If you don’t have any 3D movies or games, fear not, as you can convert any existing 2D picture to 3D using NVidia’s tools, but of course, the quality won’t be nearly as good (still better than 2D, though).
The Vaio F 3D also has a pretty good selection of ports – you’ve got VGA out, HDMI out, Ethernet and 2 USB 3.0 ports on the left side, a USB 2.0, microphone in and audio out jacks on the right side (along with the Blu-Ray drive), and an SD card reader on the front.
Internal hardware and performance
In addition to external ports, there’s also a Wifi N and Bluetooth 2.1 EDR adapters inside for connectivity, which are the basic minimum nowadays. The storage space is provided by a single hard drive, which is a shame, since Sony could’ve easily installed two inside the housing. Either way, the standard 640 GB, 7,200 RPM drive from Samsung does the job pretty well, letting you store a lot of data and quickly access it, as well.
The performance of the Vaio F 3D is very high in any kind of applications, thanks to the quad core, second generation Sandy Bridge Core i7-2630QM processor, 6 GB of DDR3 RAM (upgradable to 16 GB) and the Nvidia GeForce GT540M GPU with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory. The latter provides enough performance for most of the current games (although not all of them will play at the highest settings) and can drive up to 3 displays if you consider the laptop’s own screen.
The Sony Vaio F 3D is pretty impressive, as you can see from the specs – the 3D is really good and with the powerful hardware, the laptop is perfect for gaming (especially in 3D!). The price is pretty steep, although the 3D display must make up half of the cost, probably. Compared to the closest competitor, the HP Envy 17 3D, Sony is smaller, lighter, has a better display, slightly better hardware and a better overall build quality – although the design may seem a bit ugly and impractical to some people.