Sony VAIO VPC-F1190XCTO 16.4" NotebookManufacturer:
as configured (varies by configuration)Lowest Historical Price: $1084 HistoryIntroduction
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.Image Gallery