Review: Sony Vaio SA

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by requiem86, Jun 7, 2011.

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  1. requiem86

    requiem86 Notebook Evangelist

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    Reminder: No opinion or review will be more valuable than your own..don't base anything on someone else's review (including my own)...go see the Vaio SA yourself...everyone's perception and needs are different - to each his own. Contrary to my own review, there are many people the feel the Vaio SA display quality is just fine and people are overreacting. Go see it yourself and then decide!
    ________________________________________________________________

    I'm really surprised that I am the first one giving a review of the Sony Vaio SA - but knowing I had you all waiting eagerly to hear about the Vaio SA...I had to stop by the Sony Store after work and write up this review.

    So, I just got back from the Sony Store. I had the Sony Rep go to the back storage room, pull out the boxed "to be display" Vaio SA, and we powered it up. We then went over and compared it side by side vs. the Vaio SB - took a look at the background and ran some nature videos. Here is my initial thoughts...

    This review is mainly a comparison of the Sony Vaio SA vs. Sony Vaio SB
    ________________________________________________________________

    "Overall, I would say they made some slight cosmetic improves - but really didn't change much compared to the Vaio SB, expect for screen resolution of course (1600x900). The Vaio SA "looks" slightly more premium than its SB counterpart (shiny chrome accents!). But doesn't deliver where it counted most - display quality."


    Pros:

    • Cosmetic: Vaio SA laptop has a darker more unified black color compared to the slightly duller variation of black on the Vaio SB.
    • Cosmetic: Laptop style "looks" slightly more premium than Vaio SB. Chrome accents used in various locations (Vaio logo, touchpad clickers, back hinge/bar)
    • Lid quality/feel has improved - more scratch resistant
    • Touchpad has improved - fingerprint reader and slightly textured feel
    • Display resolution was increased to 1600x900 and there seems to be just a hint of deeper colors (blacks seemed just a bit darker), though not noticeably improved over the Vaio SB.

    Cons:

    • Lid attracts finger prints compared to the matted Vaio SB
    • Sorry, this is not the Z Series screen quality...the colors and view angles are very similar to the Vaio SB.

    Review of Sony Vaio SA

    Laptop Color: The color of the SA is slightly better than the SB..its a darker solid black. The SB actually has a minor variation in color when comparing it's lid and chassis - the black is slightly duller. The SA has a more unified color - a darker/bolder black.

    The Lid: The lid on the SA is smooth/sleek..it "looks" like better quality than the SB. However, it attracts significantly more finger prints/smudges. The SA lid seems stronger and feels more aluminum-like compared to SB. Personally, the SB lid seemed more plastic-like to me. The SB display laptop had a lot of scratch on it..though it had no finger prints or smudges what-so-ever. SB lid is a lot more matted compared to the shiner SA lid. I feel like the SA won't scratch as easily as the SB..but will have noticeable finger prints. Overall I do like the look and feel of the lid on the SA better than the SB...however, if you really don't like finger prints/smudges..you're out of luck here (even though I don't think they were that bad, I don't really mind them as much as some people).

    The Chassis + Keyboard: The chassis on both laptops felt and looked the same imo. Keyboard and palm rest..were identical. The material felt and looked the same. Also, the "Vaio" logo on the SB palm rest is just a plain stamped text (2D).. nothing special. On the SA its an engraved (3D) chrome logo..it does give the laptop a slightly more premium look. Lastly, the back hinge or bar that goes across the back of the laptop (on top of the back vents) is now chrome (you seeing a pattern here?) compared to the plain black of the Vaio SB. The overall build quality seems great on both laptops.

    Heat: I only spent about 15 minutes comparing the SA/SB...but overall...the heat temps felt decent on both laptops. The vents on the back of the laptop were actually quite cool - on both laptops. The vents on the bottom were slightly warm..nothing to worry about..but you def. felt a little heat. I wonder how they will do after some gaming...I imagine SA will act like the SB for the most part.

    Touchpad: The SA touchpad is just slightly textured compared to the smooth bald SB. The SA also has a fingerprint reader between the clickers. The left and right click buttons have turned into shiny chrome compared to the plain black SB clickers.

    Weight: Carrying the SA and SB around..you honestly can't really tell a difference. SA might be just a tiny bit lighter, however, not noticeable.

    Form Factor: SA and SB have the same form factor.

    Noise: I didn't get a chance to stress either machine..but they both are quiet doing daily tasks.

    Battery/Speakers/Webcam: Wasn't able to test this out.

    LCD Display I saved the most important for last...I am sorry but you will be slightly disappointed. This is NOT the Z Series display quality, but rather mirrors very closely with the SB. The viewing angles does feel quite limited on both SA and SB. If you move your head or tint the screen just slight up or down..the display does change quite a lot. There is definitely a noticeable "sweet spot" or "ideal" position for the screen to be in. That being said, the Vaio SA does have a 1600x900 screen resolution (more space!) and compared to laptops in today's market - the overall display on the Vaio SA/SB isn't horrible. Lastly, I notice a slight hint of deeper colors (blacks seemed just a bit darker) in the Vaio SA, though not noticeably improved over the Vaio SB. On the other hand, Vaio SB display seemed slight brighter than the Vaio SA - but not noticeably. Overall, the contrast/colors looked very similar on both laptops. (Yes, both laptops were on full brightness. There is also chance of a minor margin of error based on the sensitive display angles and my memory..hehe)

    Conclusion: The Sony Vaio SA is currently the best 13.3" laptop on the market. It's thin, light, strong battery life that can be expanded to 14 hours, has sandybridge cpu, a powerful ATI 6630 gpu, and a 1600x900 resolution...no other laptop in this segment can match that. I simply don't see any other laptops that offer as many features as the Vaio SA.

    Overall, I would say they made some slight cosmetic improves - but really didn't change much compared to the Vaio SB, expect for screen resolution of course (1600x900). The Vaio "looks" slightly more premium than its SB counterpart (chrome accents!). But doesn't deliver where it counted most - display quality.
    ________________________________________________________________

    Questions You Must Ask Yourself:

    1. Should I wait for the new Z series, since it might have better screen quality? If you can afford it and don't mind the idea of external hardware, then maybe yes. If you're like me and the idea of an external gpu and optical drive on a laptop is a deal breaker...than perhaps, you're asking...

    2. Should I buy an older Z, which has an amazing display or stick with new the Vaio SA for all the upgraded technology? If you value better display quality over newer technology and believe you will not see any noticeable benefit from 2011 hardware (based on your usage)..then perhaps you should consider the 2010 Vaio Z. FYI - the price between an old Z and new SA isn't very different, if configured relatively the same.

    3. Should I save the money and just get the Vaio SB? If you don't mind slightly bigger icons/fonts and don't really value the extra screen space on 1600x900 (compared to the 1366x786 on the Vaio SB) and can live with a 6470M gpu instead of the 6630M..then yes, perhaps a Vaio SB is a better choice for the value minded consumer.

    For me personally, I'm still 50/50 between getting a new Vaio SA or old Vaio Z. The overall display on the Vaio SA isn't amazing nor is it horrible (but, no where near as good as the Z). The viewing angles do feel quite limited, however, it is a 1600x900 screen display (rare in today's market). I don't see any other laptops that offer as many features as the Vaio SA. For me it's a question of new technology (SA) vs. a significantly better display (old Z).

    ________________________________________________________________

    So what do you guys think? comments/questions? Do you think the Vaio SA is the SB's slightly pretty sister?

    Videos: (submitted by gtrips07 & mamabiskothu)

    Vaio SA Display Screen Video (Original)
    Vaio SA Display Screen Video (Flipped)
    Vaio SA Viewing Angles (Video 1)
    Vaio SA Viewing Angles (Video 2)
    Vaio SA Keyboard Video
    Vaio SA Case Video
    YouTube - ‪Vaio SA hands on‬‏

    Though the videos above show a general sense of the screen/display quality, viewing angles, colors, and contrast on the Vaio SA - video quality should be taken into account. Also, a bit of video quality was lost on the "Flipped" version, hence why I uploaded both.

    Pictures:

    - Comparison of Vaio Z vs. Vaio SA Screen/Display Quality submitted by oltx1008
    - Attached pictures submitted by gtrips07 & shmudogg
    - A few more pictures included in links below.

    ......................
    Moderator edit
    Other reviews and feedback/first impressions contained within this thread. Please view the links below


     
  2. fscussel

    fscussel Notebook Evangelist

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    I say sony is a joke, cause you pay way more for the SA and since it doesn´t weight 1.45kg as the first information lead to, it should have something to justify the higher price, and it should be the screen. So sony just fool us in spending more for a machine with same display quality, it´s really a joke. And of course it explains why there are no comercial reviews out there, because sony didn´t want to send test units for review websites cause they would all point out that the display is not a plus or premium display and they would loose sells...
     
  3. lastnikita

    lastnikita Notebook Deity

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    Thanks !

    Does the fan turn off sometimes ?
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2015
  4. gtrips07

    gtrips07 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the quick write up.

    Two questions:
    1. How would you compare this screen wise to the Samsung Series 9? Have you had a chance to look at its screen?
    2. Where can you find similiary priced Z's at?
    My CTO hasn't shipped yet and I am wondering about pulling out. I currently have a Dell Studio XPS with a 16 inch screen that is just too heavy to lug back and forth to class with its charger.

    Again thanks for the review
     
  5. amatot

    amatot Newbie

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    Thanks for the Review - it is indeed disappointing to hear that display quality is still a negative...
    Did you have a chance to check the Webcam Quality - Sony advertises as HD - the SB's image was quite poor...
    Might go for a MBP after all!
     
  6. chrisxnguyen

    chrisxnguyen Notebook Geek

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    Darn. I was really hoping that the display quality would be better than the SB. I don't really do gaming much but I am on the computer a lot so a great display would have been really nice. Given that the display supposedly isn't better than the SB, should the average user go the SB route which would be a lot cheaper?
     
  7. xxGenericSNxx

    xxGenericSNxx Z1 Fanboy

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    I'm likely going to the Sony store tomorrow to see the SA in person. Is there anything in particular anyone would like to see/know?

    BTW, the SA shouldn't have better battery life than the SB because the battery is smaller.
     
  8. Sadiki

    Sadiki Notebook Consultant

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    I'd like to see pictures of the lid to know just how badly it picks up smudges and fingerprints. Also, do the silver touchpad buttons pick up fingerprints? Do they match the look of the laptop or do they look tacky?

    All my other questions were pretty much answered. Even with the less than premium screen, no other laptop meets my needs/desires as well as the SA
     
  9. xxGenericSNxx

    xxGenericSNxx Z1 Fanboy

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    I'm fairly certain all of the parts that were described as silver are chrome buttons/accents. These will more than likely pick up finger prints.
     
  10. fscussel

    fscussel Notebook Evangelist

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    if they have a vaio Z in that store take some high quality pics comparing both displays please.
     
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