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I bought this laptop for around £900 and really loved it - I used it for everything and it was very capable for all of these functions. For the first couple of years I owned it, it was the best laptop I have ever had, it ran quickly and efficiently. The screen was large and bright therefore perfect for playing games and watching films/TV shows. The graphics card was also good enough to be able to load most of the games I wished to play which is better than most laptops I have had before.
However, the laptop was incredibly bulky - partially because the screen was a 17'' - this means that it was difficult to carry around/take anywhere really defeating the point of having a laptop in favour of a desktop. Linked to this, after a short period of time it became necessary to leave the laptop plugged in full time. This meant that I could not take it anywhere unless there was guaranteed to be a plug rather limiting the places that I could have it! Another problem is that the laptop easily overheated - enough that I could have cooked something on it! Which even if didn't cause direct problems, it was worrying.
Eventually, the laptop starting blue screen of death every time I tried to turn it on, which was apparently a common feature in the model. I never found out the cause of the problem and even after sending it to be fixed got an inconclusive result and I had to replace it. So all in all, I would not buy it again as the customer service - particularly for this model - was awful and there were more problems than benefits to owning the laptop for such a short time at such an expensive price!
I bought this laptop just over two years ago for £700 and absolutely loved it. The graphics card is amazing and allows for excellent playability for most up-to-date PC games. A favourite of mine being the Football Manager series, which this Vaio handles like a beaut. The monitor is absolutely gorgeous - perfect for watching films at night time. Like most laptops though, the sunlight is not its friend and is to be avoided with a vampiric discipline. Indeed it will be a squinting struggle to make sense of the cloudy dimlit screen behind the grease marks and hair that show up in direct sun. If you own a cat then apply the previous sentence tenfold. The three hundred gigabyte hard disk means that there is rarely an issue with low hard disk space, unless you are one of the hardiest internet downloaders. It also comes with a disc drive that supports BluRay playback and CD/ DVD writing, which is handy if you want to back up your files on something more permanent than USB. The speakers are of a very impressive quality for a laptop. Although mine have had issues requiring me to jiggle the monitor into just the right position to get some of the left sided audio to work, subsequently leading to me using headphones on a regular basis.
Around three months ago I began having graphical issues. Upon further research I found that other owners of this model have had similar graphical issues and that Sony are actually covering repair for earlier models with the same problem. Sony however are not currently covering repairs for this model. Apparently it's something to do with the soldering around the graphics card warping due to overheating - another serious issue with the computer. Customer support at Sony has told me that it will cost £55 for them to simply assess what is wrong with it and according to Google another £300+ to replace the motherboard. Total bummer! The overheating is so prevalent for this laptop that they suggest that it should never be directly applied to a lap to avoid painful temperatures. Thus a more accurate name for this computer is a hardsurfacetop.
Another disadvantage is the weight. It is the heaviest laptop I have ever held, requiring two hands at all times. Anyone under the age of twelve will not be able to hold it for longer than thirty seconds without their forearms giving way. The weight also means that any droppage of the laptop likely results in minor superficial cracks and a feeling of bereavement that equals the loss of a second cousin once removed. This also significantly hinders the portability of the model, really only being comfortably used around the house. It is therefore important to consider whether at this point the laptop is any more useful to have than a desktop PC which, for the price, can wield far higher specifications. The battery life is quite low to begin with and over a year or so you will find that it only lasts for about ten minutes. Replacements cost around £90. The mouse buttons are also an issue with the left button on mine becoming more and more numb, to the point that I have to push down on it until the blood leaves the tip of my index finger. You can just tap the touch pad to left click, which is a simple enough substitution. And it is a given that dead pixels will emerge on your laptop screen as it ages, which can detract from one of the Vaio's primary appeals: video playback.
The monitor can be considered a direct trade-off for the sleekness and adaptability that smaller laptops provide. For instance, it is impossible to use on a train as the fold up tables they provide cannot contain this 'roided up hunk of plastic. Needless to say the Vaio AR71M is one of the larger laptops on the market, however it does still retain some aesthetic appeal. For the fashion conscious there's a big shiny Vaio logo on the back of the monitor. Though do prepare to be sniggered at by the beautiful people if you think that this laptop is anything more than Matalan in comparison to iMac's Gucci.
All in all, not worth the £700 for two years of use. If however the graphical issue had not emerged, even with all the other problems (most of which are to be expected to some extent with all laptops) I would consider this laptop an utter bargain. Being left so out of pocket with a looming £300+ repair cost does leave a rather bitter taste in the back of one's mouth though. Reliability cannot be underestimated in such a large purchase and for that reason if you want a laptop that will last for a long time without any sizable issues this laptop cannot be any more unattractive.