Sony Vaio NW11S/S review
A funky design and great 3D performance make this a decent laptop, but it's let down by a slightly washed-out display and a fairly high price.
Review Date: 7 Aug 2009
Price when reviewed: £749
Reviewed By: Alan Lu & Barry de la Rosa
The NW11S/S's case has a wavy texture that almost looks like wood grain.
This texture is visible between the flat, separated keys, which gives the impression of solidity, and build quality is as sturdy as we'd expect from Sony. The keys themselves have a crisp, light action and plenty of feedback.
The large touchpad is the oddest we've seen for a while: the pad is recessed and transparent, covered with tiny raised dots that help to reduce friction. It works well, though, and the pad is responsive. The buttons are a good size and have a light action.
Like the majority of the laptops here, the NW11S/S has a 15.6in widescreen display using a 1,366x768 resolution. Colours are reasonably accurate but aren't as vibrant as the Asus K50IN's, and images seem washed out in comparison. The backlight has some dark patches along the bottom of the screen and there's a cold, blue tint to whites, but as we've said elsewhere, these minor flaws are only really noticeable when you line up several of these laptops side by side. There's an HDMI port on the side if you want to send the video signal to an external monitor.
Performance in our benchmarks was good, with an overall score of 61. ATI's HD 4570 graphics chipset powered the NW11S/S to a respectable 21.3fps in Call of Duty 4. By turning anti-aliasing off, we were able to get a playable 28.2fps at native resolution. Those who prefer less-demanding strategy or adventure games should be able to crank up the visual effects.
There are only three USB ports, but the NW11S/S is the only laptop in this category to have a FireWire port. It also has Bluetooth, Draft-N WiFi and a 320GB hard disk. Battery life in our light usage tests was a respectable three hours and 55 minutes.
When there are perfectly good laptops for £200 less, it's hard to justify the NW11S/S's price, but it does have good 3D performance and a smart design. Unfortunately, the washed-out screen and relatively steep price prevent it winning an award.
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