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Gearing Up For College With The New Sony S Series Laptop

In this day and age, it is important that students equip themselves with the right tools that will promote their academic success on a college campus. If students are unable to succeed in the classroom then they will inevitably be burdened with added expense if they are forced to retake a course… or even worse… decide to drop out altogether mid way through a semester.

So, how do you avoid drop-out-itis? You develop amazing study habits, adopt a structured schedule/routine, and you surround yourself with technology that is geared to help you be an amazing student.

Since the good people at Sony recently gave me a long-term loaner laptop (the newly introduced S-Series : Model# VPC-SA21GX) to put through the paces, today’s article is going to be focusing on the third recommendation above – making technology your new best friend at college.

Before you read any further, I need to preface this laptop review by letting you know a couple things about me that may become very clear later on in this article.

  1. I love technology and I am always salivating at the latest and greatest gadgets to hit the market. However, I am not a geek (which I use that term lovingly because geeks are really cool). So, for example, I probably won’t have any really neat insight that proves to you why one Intel processor is better than another. But, I can tell you that CORE i5 has to be better than CORE i3 just because the number is bigger! 😉
  2. The first computer that I purchased on my own had a 1 gigabyte hard drive (and that was considered cutting edge…)
  3. I believe in functionality and my motto has always been work smarter not harder. Technology helps to make it happen for me. I don’t know how it works behind the scenes but a positive end result is always what I am seeking.

So, lets get on with what you are here for and start talking about this brand new shiny silver S – Series laptop from Sony…


I am from a world of big and bulky when it comes to laptops. That is just how I have always known them to be… until a couple of years ago when I purchased my first netbook. Unfortunately, the screen was too small for me and my fat fingers really couldn’t handle the reduction in keyboard size. Fortunately, the Sony S-Series has somehow found a way to marry the best of both worlds together for me. It is just big enough that I don’t feel like a giant when using it but the laptop is small enough that I can actually throw it in my office bag and not get a hernia when I take it home for the day.

The footprint on this laptop is about 13 inches x 9 inches and the height is just about the size of a quarter (see unprofessional pictures below). If you add the optional flat panel battery (which boasts providing you with approximately 15 hours of untethered usage) it only increases the depth by about a quarter of an inch.

The screen is a LED screen which is known for being incredibly efficient with power usage and providing longevity of operation without failing. I like this screen because it provides a sharp image (which is a necessity with laptops more now than ever with the ever increasing use of multimedia) but I really like the fact that it is glare resistant. I have had experiences in the past with computers that had a glossy cover to the screen and it made working on them unbearable in the certain lighting situations. Not the case with the Sony S-Series.

The Sony laptop I received has a sleek silver finish. Having owned laptops representing other colors, I can honestly say that silver is by far the best finish that you can probably pick for a laptop. Fingerprints don’t show up on the case or around the keyboard area. In addition, silver just always has a futuristic appeal to me.

The laptop weighs in at a little less than four pounds, (3.6 lbs per the specs) which is a drop in the bucket compared to other laptops I have lugged around in the past. In addition, it weighs less than most chemistry books you will have in your college book bag and will prove to be far more useful.


Operating System:
This laptop is sporting the latest and greatest from Microsoft. It has Windows 7 (the professional version). This is my first experience with Windows 7 and I must say that it is a breath of fresh air. I have always been a big fan if Windows XP and for once it seams like Microsoft has finally gotten back on track with an operating system that has a similar feel as XP. I am sure Windows 7 surpasses XP by leaps and bounds but it reminds me of my long lost friend (XP) and that is comforting.

Boot Up Time:
I am fairly spontaneous when it comes to many things and if my laptop can’t respond to my spur of the moment cravings to work on various PC based projects, I am in trouble. On a good day, it takes the Sony S – Series about a minute to fully boot up and connect to my wireless router. On a bad day, it took about a minute and a half. This is a winner for me because my experience with laptops in the past required me to hit the power button, go pack my lunch for the day, drink a cup of coffee, browse the newspaper and then maybe come back to a computer that was ready for me to start working. I am exaggerating a little but I am sure many of you can relate.

Operating Noise:
This appears to be one of the more quiet laptops. When the fan kicks in to cool it down, it has a very low decibel hum. I am a little picky about this because I hate to be around the study table with buddies and all of a sudden my laptop fan kicks on and sounds like a fleet of Wright Brother airplanes are getting ready to take off.

Mouse Pad:
The mouse pad is very responsive and I especially like that the right side also doubles as a scroll bar to go up and down a page without having to jump over to the arrows. In addition, many mouse pads seem to get in the way of typing and one incidental touch later you find yourself typing in the middle of a previous paragraph. That has not been an issue on the Sony S – Series.

Back-lit Keyboard:
I can’t tell you how many times I was typing in the dark or trying to watch a movie on my laptop and I had to turn on a light to have a better view of my keyboard (or to see it at all). The Sony S – Series has alleviated me of this problem because the entire keyboard has back lighting to make the letters and buttons standout. A nice added bonus is that the back light turns off after a preset amount of time (so battery consumption is minimized) and then quickly turns back on the moment you touch one of the keys.


Battery Life:
This, by far, has to be the most important feature that this laptop is promoting. Regular battery life under normal operating conditions is about 7 hours. However, you add in the optional sheet battery and you are ramped up to 15 hours of roaming around with your laptop without a care in the world (as it pertains to finding a power outlet). I am a little bit of a skeptic on this 15 hour battery life span, so I plan on doing a full day’s test in the coming week and report back to you and let you know how the laptop (and battery) fairs.

Web Button:
I love my iPhone. It does about everything that I need to stay connected with my social media world. However, there are times when I just have to be on the laptop to access certain sites and functions out on the web. Sony must have seen my dilemma with being impatient about boot up times and incorporated a web only feature on the S – Series Vaio. Basically, you just hit the web button on your powered down laptop and in less than 20 seconds, you have a full functioning web browser on your laptop that is connected to your wireless router. All I can say is – AMAZING

Stamina/Speed Button:
Don’t you wish you had a button on your body that you could push and it would automatically adjust your settings so that you could prepare for the long day ahead of you, or inversely, for the high profile, high energy presentation that you are about to give. My body doesn’t have that but the Sony S – Series laptop does. Depending on how you plan on using your laptop, you can toggle between the two settings to conserve battery consumption. I am not certain but I think the switch will adjust things like screen brightness and graphic card settings. For what I am doing, I don’t see a big difference in performance but if it makes my battery last longer, I am more than ok with having that feature.

The Sony S – Series model that was provided to me as a long term loaner has a sticker price of around $1,299. The standard model starts at $969 on Sony’s website. I think this laptop is probably in the same target market as the MacBook Pro, which has a starting price of $1,199. Sony is also running a special right now that would qualify you for a free sheet battery with purchase of this laptop (that would be a savings of $150).


This little laptop far exceeded any and all of my expectations, so it would be hard to point out areas needing improvement. However, I can probably muster up a couple…

The first is price point. To the average person, it is probably going to be hard to convince someone as to why they should spend $1,300 dollars on a PC based laptop. It seems like there are so many other models available for far cheaper prices. However, history has taught me that you get what you pay for and chances are that you can find a less expensive laptop but it is not going to provide you with the same experience that you may get from the more expensive one. I have not had this laptop long enough to comment on it’s long-term usage characteristics (life-span) but it does appear to be pretty solid in feel and functionality and I can say that is definitely something I have not experienced out of the box with cheaper laptops.

The second item is a numerical keypad. I know that it jeopardizes the size and feel of the keyboard with the limited space, but I am a numbers guy and I cherish that little keypad to the right of the keyboard. I would love to see a laptop manufacturer invent a slide-out keypad option for folks like me. It may cost a little more but that is definitely a feature I would splurge for.

In Summary:

  • Great laptop
  • Lots of features
  • The little extras go a long way in functionality
  • 15 hour battery life is jaw-dropping
  • Price is a little high (but you get what you pay for)
  • This laptop will definitely help a college student succeed in and out of the classroom

Stay Tuned! I will be putting this Sony S- Series laptop through the paces in the coming week to see just how long a 15 hour battery really lasts. I will post my results here on  Update- Here is the article showing the result of my battery test

Here are some other great Sony Laptop reviews provided by my fellow college bloggers:

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