Sony VAIO F 3D Review
The Sony VAIO F 3D combines fast performance and an immersive 3D experience in a head-turning design.
Lowest Price: $1,649.99
The Sony VAIO F is an entertainment notebook that literally pops, thanks to a full-HD screen that displays your movies, games, and more in 3D (with the included glasses). Priced at $1,799, this machine is anything but cheap, but the cost of admission also gets you a blazing quad-core Core i7 processor, a Blu-ray drive, and Nvidia graphics. But with a number of 3D-capable notebooks on the market, does this desktop replacement have what it takes to beat out the competition?
The Sony VAIO F 3D has all the makings of an interstellar star cruiser. Large, black, and glossy with sharp angles, the VAIO F gives the impression that it’s about to blast off. Aside from being extremely shiny, the VAIO F 3D doesn’t have much in the way of decoration. The lid is made of a glossy black plastic and accented by the gray Sony logo and the large chrome VAIO insignia. Because the lid is 0.75 inches shorter than the base , the VAIO F 3D has a prominent bottom lip that displays status lights for the power adapter, wireless switch, and SD card reader.
The glossy treatment gives the VAIO F 3D a sleek look, but it also makes the machine a fingerprint magnet. The only splashes of color are found on the green power button and the fuchsia VAIO Assist button.
Measuring 15.7 x 10.7 x 1.3 -1.7inches and weighing 7 pounds, the VAIO F 3D is designed for home use. The HP Envy 17 3D is slightly slimmer (16.4 x 10.8 x 1.2 -1.5 inches), but it outweighs the VAIO F by 0.5 lbs.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The VAIO F 3D has an island-style keyboard with a full number pad. The large keys have a generous amount of space between them and offer strong tactile feedback. A matte-black strip palm rest helped make for a comfortable typing experience. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we scored our normal 50 words per minute with a 3-percent error percentage, though we noticed a small amount of flex as we typed. Touch-sensitive multimedia buttons sit atop the keyboard, as do buttons for VAIO Assist, 3D conversion, and VAIO Media Gallery.
The 3.5 x 1.9-inch touchpad on the VAIO 3D is integrated into the palm rest. The textured touchpad’s tiny raised dots felt good on our finger and provided accurate navigation around the desktop. Multitouch gestures such as rotate, flick, and pinch-to-zoom were also smooth. The mouse buttons situated below the touchpad weren’t as comfortable. The single narrow mouse button that clicks left or right was stiff, and you have to click on the outer edges to get a response.
During our testing, the VAIO kept its cool in most locations. After 15 minutes of playing a Hulu video at full screen, the touchpad measured a balmy 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys was slightly warmer, at 94 degrees. The notebook’s underside remained a chilly 83 degrees. The bottom vent of the VAIO F 3D measured a hot 102 degrees, seven degrees warmer than what we deem to be comfortable. During an install of BioShock 2, the notebook’s loud fan kicked in and was more than a little distracting.
Display and Audio
The 16-inch matte display on the VAIO F sits in a glossy black bezel that tapers into matte black plastic. The 1920 x 1080-pixel 3D LED-backlit display provided sharp, vivid images. Watching movie trailers on YouTube was a pleasure. Captain America’s vibrant red, white, and blue costume popped against the dreary gray backdrop when we watched a 1080p Captain America: The First Avenger clip. As we watched the Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon 1080p trailer, the gold in the astronaut’s helmet gleamed against the stark white of the moon. We also saw fiery plumes of red and yellow against a clear blue sky during a fight scene.
Thanks to S-Force Front Surround 3D and Dolby Home Theater technology, the VAIO F has a pretty impressive audio pedigree. The notebook’s speaker bar above the keyboard produced loud and clear movie dialogue. However, explosions lacked power. When we listened to Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” and Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, vocals on both tracks were clear, but we noticed bass distortion during “Love Lockdown.” Perry’s poppy tune sounded better..
Ports and Webcam
The VAIO F 3D has a generous set of ports. On the right side sit a USB 2.0 slot, headphone and mic jacks, and a 3D Blu-Ray player. A Firewire port, 4-in-1 card reader, and a wireless switch are featured on the notebook’s front lip. Along with two USB 3.0 slots, the left side of the laptop houses a VGA port, HDMI, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a Kensington lock, and the power jack.
The VAIO F 3D’s 1.3-megapixel HD webcam uses Sony’s Exmor sensor and can record at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024. While details were clear and crisp, images appeared dark under fluorescent lighting. Moving closer to a window helps, and you can adjust the brightness using the Arcsoft Webcam Companion software. During a Skype session, our caller reported clear images and was able to read the words on the whiteboard behind us. They also reported great sound with little background noise, except for a small amount of echoing