Product: Sony VAIO VPC-F1190XCTO 16.4" Notebook
Manufacturer: Sony
MSRP: $1450 as configured (varies by configuration)
Lowest Historical Price: $1084 History

Introduction
Earlier this year, Sony revamped their 16.4" VAIO F series notebooks with Intel's brand-spanking-new Core i7 mobile processors. Since I was in the market for a good all-around laptop, I decided to custom build a VAIO VPC-F1190X of my own. I knew the hyper-threading-enabled quad-core processor would deliver blazing fast performance, but what I really wanted to find out was if this laptop could shine as a full-fledged desktop replacement. Click on to read my impressions.



Unboxing and First Impressions
When my VAIO arrived in its small box, I noticed that, aside from the laptop and charger, there was nothing more than a quick start guide and the Sony catalog -- no system restore DVD, no extra software bundle, no accessories destined for the trash. The VPC-F1190X is a hefty 6 lbs, and once out of the box, it immediately took up a significant amount of desktop space with its 15.5" x 10.5" dimensions.

Specs
When I was ordering the VAIO, I knew I wanted more than a basic laptop. I wanted to watch Blu-ray movies along with doing more demanding tasks. So I configured it with an Intel Core i7-720QM processor, 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, a 320GB 5400RPM hard drive, 4GB DDR3-1333 memory, a Geforce GT 330m 1GB dedicated graphics card, 1920 x 1080 LCD, Wireless N, Bluetooth, a backlit keyboard, 6-cell battery and, of course, the Blu-ray drive. The grand total came out to $1440 including tax, which puts it in the same price bracket as the entry level Macbook Pros.



Review
Surprisingly, Sony kept the third party bloatware to a minimum. It consists mainly of Norton Internet Security, Roxio Easy CD Creator, Microsoft Works and a trial version of Microsoft Office 2007. Sony's own pre-installed software, on the other hand, is quite a bit more well-integrated and controls Bluetooth, keyboard backlighting, and a few extra features. I normally would've uninstalled them, but they proved to be the only way to access certain features.

My very first task after setup was to find my wireless network. It's completely idiot-proof, since there's a simple "on/off" wireless slider (as opposed to those devious toggle buttons). However, when I tried to connect my Logitech MX5500 Revolution Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo, it ended up being a 20-minute ordeal with a call to Sony tech support thrown into the mix. Getting it all to work required a hardware / software solution: switching on the wireless slider and using Sony's control center program.



Performance on this laptop is nothing short of amazing, especially since it's equipped with a decent dedicated graphics card and 4GB of memory. It's not a gaming powerhouse, and expect to play most 3D games on medium settings at 1920 x 1080. Still, with multiple programs running in the background and the HDMI port connected to an HDTV, Blu-ray movies didn't lag whatsoever.

After heavy use, the VAIO warmed up a fair amount, and the fan kicked in quite loudly. The battery life isn't too good, either, lasting just one-and-a-half to two hours with normal web browsing. Another disappointment is the trackpad. With its off-center location, I found myself accidentally brushing a finger on the trackpad and moving the pointer.



Conclusion
The VAIO VPC-F1190X is a solid performer for anyone looking for a desktop replacement. Good thing, because you wouldn't want to carry it around much since it's not exactly what you'd call light. Nonetheless, its overall performance is top-notch, and the Blu-ray drive means you can watch the latest movies in glorious 1080p. While the VAIO isn't the most cost-friendly solution, it's still cheaper than the new 15.4" Core i5 Macbook Pros. Then again, with Macbook Pros, you're factoring in the high hipster tax, if you're willing to pay it.

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    LJW Ben's cred: 258
    Posted 2:21 pm PDT 06/9/10

    Why bother with blu-ray, you're still watching on a 16" screen. This is not a desktop replacement, it's really a desktop computer with built-in UPS and a tiny screen. Fail.

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    hurl3.0 Ben's cred: 292
    Posted 2:36 pm PDT 06/9/10

    is this a contest? enter me in!

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    ps_fedex Ben's cred: 21
    Posted 2:39 pm PDT 06/9/10

    Is this an ad? What kinda nonsense is this?

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    BenBargains Ben's cred: 89
    Posted 3:49 pm PDT 06/9/10

    It doesnt give it glowing reviews so you can't say this is an ad. It however is interesting to learn the sony ware controls some of the features so you "shouldn't" remove it. However then I like this even less.

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    Solow Ben's cred: 583
    Posted 8:05 pm PDT 06/9/10

    Who pays a 1g for laptops anymore? The batteries only last a year or two. These portable computers have all become disposable items.

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    smartadze Ben's cred: 88
    Posted 8:12 am PDT 06/10/10

    Awright you dweebs: back in line! And show some love for Ben's new laptop!

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    dave_c Ben's cred: 3717
    Posted 12:07 pm PDT 06/10/10

    LJW wrote:
    Why bother with blu-ray, you're still watching on a 16" screen. This is not a desktop replacement, it's really a desktop computer with built-in UPS and a tiny screen. Fail.


    It's all relative. Suppose you're a 5'10", 120 lb college student then yeah it's kinda big and heavy.

    Contrast that with a 6'2" 200 lb full grown adult, the size of the person increased more than the size of the laptop.

    It's certainly not what I would want to carry around all day, but for less occasional use it's not a big deal to carry 4 lbs more to get a larger screen, numpad, higher performance... plus something nice you might want to use longer so the price difference starts to cancel out unless you break it somehow.

    On that front there is a lot of variability in ruggedness on the low end models. For example some ~$400 Compaqs are built well but some $500 Compaq/HPs not so much.

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    grahambill Ben's cred: 1
    Posted 2:36 am PDT 08/27/10

    nice one.

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    kimmy34 Ben's cred: 1
    Posted 9:58 pm PDT 10/3/10

    Hmm tempting but it seems a bit over priced. I hope they develop some long lasting batteries this time. Confused

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    angelinalove Ben's cred: 1
    Posted 3:43 am PDT 10/4/10

    Sony Vaio is my favourite one among the all laptop and it really looks so standard from all othes. Its great review!

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    hadtoxps Ben's cred: 41
    Posted 5:09 pm PDT 10/22/10

    I love how people complain about hauling an extra few pounds. join the military. only 100 pounds of gear to carry while running all day. poor college kids and their 6 pounds. man up.

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