* Prices may differ from that shown
I'm not a dramatic person, so when I say that this laptop has been absolutely AMAZING, I'm not exaggerating. When I first received it, it was 5 years ago as a birthday present from my parents, who at the time, couldn't afford the really high-end laptops with aluminium casing and out of this world graphics cards... they got me the most affordable laptop on the market, trying desperately not to compromise on quality, and did they succeed? Yes, yes they did - and I'll forever be grateful.
The Sony Vaio VGN-NR38E has a solid, but smart design with sturdy hinges. I couldn't get over the fact that it has 4 USB slots! I could charge my phone and kindle whilst listening to and recording via my headset and a webcam, all at the same time!
The general size of the laptop was ideal, since it fits quite comfortably into any laptop bag, and even a large handbag if need be, and the screen is a comfortable 1280x800, and doesn't have a funny texture like many laptops I've seen. The keyboard is excellently structured and easy to navigate with clear white symbols on black keys - this was useful, as dirt doesn't seem to be a problem either. It has four rubber pads on the base to stop it from slipping.
The performance of the laptop itself has been above and beyond expectations. It has caused me no grief whatsoever in it's many years of service throughout my studies as an Art and Design student. It would travel around with me, suffer endless batterings and challenges, but it always pulled through.
All in all, an excellent choice for a relatively inexpensive laptop computer. Highly recommended.
Sony Vaio N series
My Sony Vaio has been with me for 3 years now and is the first major purchase I made when I got my first job. Recently due to my carelessness the powerjack has broken and so it no longer charges but otherwise it still works perfectly. I am as yet contemplating fixing it or getting a new one. The laptop isn't in the best condition but it does function (if given power) quite well.
I am pretty sure that all of the N series laptops are discontinued and they are replaced by the E series. The N series was the affordable/budget laptops from Sony and the E series replaces it.
The features of the laptop are really basic. It comes with a 160GB hard drive which is rather poor by today's standard as I am sure 300GB is the standard for even a budget laptop. I do find that sometimes there is not enough had drive space but this is because I store a lot of movies on my laptop. I find that I have to regularly clear my hard drive otherwise I would not be able to store any other applications or documents.
It comes with a 2GB RAM and the processor is intel dual which isn't the fastest processor around but it does the job. The processor speed is good enough for my needs which is internet, word processing and movies/films. I don't use the laptop for anything else so it does fulfil its purpose.
There is no webcam (but this is not essential, but as most laptops have one, even the cheapest ones it is a bit of a letdown). This is definitely not a power machine and it cannot be used as a desktop replacement. I have not personally found the computer to be slow as I only use it for the internet, word processing and watching movies. It is not HD and I can't tell the difference between HD and a normal screen anyway as they seem the same to me. It is just a really basic laptop that is ideal for students and those who have the same needs as I do.
I bought the laptop for £549 and I think for the specification it is not worth the high price. When I bought it I did know that there were cheaper laptops than the VAIO and the same specification. But I was determined to get a Sony Vaio as I had wanted one since I was 16. In hindsight it was a bad idea. The Sony range of laptops are expensive compared to other laptops with the same specification and so in a way they are priced like apple laptops. My vanity took over and I wanted to be seen with an expensive(ish) Sony Vaio. I would not buy another sony vaio simply because the service I received was terrible although maybe I should have pushed them to replace my hard drive under the warranty.
The one massive positive about the laptop is that even though I have on numerous occasions managed to damage it, it still works very well. There is cosmetic damage, but as I am the owner I knew this was bound to happen. I have dropped the laptop so many times and from a great distance yet there is not a single scratch or dent on the screen and the quality is the same as when it was new. It has fallen down the stair and still survived! The screen is TFT which I am pretty sure is superior to LCD as LCD has liquid crystals and if it breaks then the screen is cracked. I don't know how TFT works but I have read that it is superior and I am very lucky that my screen is not LCD otherwise my laptop would not have survived a day let alone 3 years. The screen is glossy and if I clean it, it becomes static and it just attracts dust again so it is really annoying. The screen size is 15.3 inches but it looks 17 inches to me. It is a perfect size for watching films. Big enough to watch films but smaller enough to be portable.
The keyboard is a standard QWERTY keyboard with the speakers just above it. The mouse broke within 6 months and the left side doesn't click, although when I bought it was quite stiff and it didn't work very well. I just use tap the cursor to get things to open instead of clicking on them so I am used to it now.
The battery life is rather poor as it lasts a maximum of 3 hours on full power and on the lowest brightness setting. But VAIO's do have a reputation of having a low battery life. It weighs about 3kg which is the aveage weight for a laptop but it does feel heavy. It does fit into my handbag which is really good as I don't have to carry 2 bags around which increases the likelihood of me loosing it.
Overall this is an expensive laptop considering what you get but the TFT screen has saved me money. On the other had Sony's refusal to change my faulty hard drive did cost money. I wanted a sony vaio and so I got the cheapest because the other (better) models are far too expensive for a student and they have features that I would not necessarily use. As this model is replaced by the E series and costs the same it may be worth a look as the N series is discontinued.
I purchased this laptop in the Argos clearance sale in the last week of December, 2008, as my previous laptop would not power up any longer, after around 2 years use. I've always wanted a Sony Vaio laptop, as they look sophisticated and rather fashionable. They look smart and slick, but do the job they were intended to do. It's not just another poor laptop with fancy casing to make it look like something extraordinary. With Windows Vista Home Premium, it's easier than ever to find everything and anything. It has increased security, performance and productivity, but yet still allows easy use of a complicated piece of electronics. The powerful Pentium Dual Core processor and 2GB of RAM enables faster performance, more responsive multi-tasking, and yet still allows the laptop to be energy efficient. A large 160GB hard drive allows lots and lots of music, videos and pictures to be stored securely, with no worries about memory storage, however, I recently purchased a Buffalo external hard drive to save everything on, to allow my Vaio to achieve it's full potential. It boasts a large 15.4" screen with "wide X-black LCD display" which apparently allows more natural looking pictures, and to be honest, images really do look remarkable on this screen. The keys are larger than most laptops, and it's very rare that you touch another key by accident due to them being too small. "SanDisk memory card" and "Sony MemoryStick Pro" ports are built in to the front of the laptop, and also 4 USB sockets, so there is a lot of potential memory storage, and also other hardware could be connected easily. When fully charged, it gives around 2 hours of power, but you can change the settings to allow more battery life, but decreased performance, or lower batter life, with an increased performance. Sony have also combined some of their products, with Vista, to allow "exclusive VAIO software for enhanced and easy multimedia files management". Below is a VERY long list of all the pre-loaded software, just to give you an idea about what you get for your money, not just a basic laptop where you have to download everything before you use it.
Adobe Flash Player 10 ActiveX
Adobe Flash Player 10 Plugin
Adobe Reader 9
Alps StickPointer for Vaio
ArcSoft Magic-i Visual Effects 2
ArcSoft WebCam Companion 2
Compatibility Pack for the 2007 Office system
Instant Mode Support Utility
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500
Intel Media Codecs for Intel System Controller Hub
Java SE Runtime Environment 6
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
Microsoft Office PowerPoint Viewer 2007 (English)
Microsoft Office Suite Activation Assistant
Microsoft Street & Trips 2009
Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable (two instances of this)
OpenMG Secure Module 5.1.00
Qualcomm Gobi Driver Package for Sony
Qualcomm Gobi Images for Sony
Realtek High Definition Audio Driver
Setting Utility Series
SmartWi Connection Utility
Sony Video Shared Library
Vaio Content Folder Setting
Vaio Content Folder Watcher
Vaio Content Metadata Intelligent Analyzing Manager
Vaio Content Metadata Manager Setting
Vaio Content Metadata XML Interface Library
Vaio Control Center
Vaio Data Restore Tool
Vaio Entertainment Platform
Vaio Event Service
Vaio Help and Support
Vaio Media plus
Vaio Media plus Opening Movie
Vaio My Memory Center
Vaio OOBE and Welcome Center
Vaio Original Function Setting
Vaio Power Management
Vaio Presentation Support
Vaio Update 4
Vaio Wallpaper Contents
Vaio Window Organizer
Vaio Wireless Wizard
VZAccess Manager for Sony
WIDCOMM Bluetooth Software 220.127.116.1100
Windows Live OneCare
WinDVD for Vaio
Overall, I was very pleased with my purchase, because getting all this for £350 was a steal. After owning 2 desktop computers, 2 other laptops, and having use and experiences with laptops and computers of friends, I can say that it is extremely good value for money, and also a must have.
I've only ever bought Vaio laptops myself so can't really be a great authority. However, after using friends' laptops I can safely say that Sony really are the best. The laptop just oozes quality and well builtness! It also works really well and is quite fast I think. The screen is as big as you'd possibly want and the keyboard has buttons that are big, easy to press and have special bits that stop bit and bobs (hair, crumbs, ants) from getting stuck underneath. It also has really handy short cut buttons for AV mode and one personalisable button which I use for mute. It comes with Windows Vista which itself is great but the really beauty of this product is its effortless style, good looks and lovely bumpy textured surface that feels like fabric. Also, it was in the new James Bond film! What more could you possibly want?
- Introduction -
Anyone who saw my review of my last laptop, my Toshiba Equium, will know that I had alot of problems with it, of different types. In September I gave up on it and agreed to let my dad have it at a decent price, since he seemed pretty sure he'd still be able to use it.
So I went back to looking at what was on the market, laptop wise and when I spotted that you could get a Sony Vaio for under £400, I was quite tempted. Having read through the laptops specification and knowing that Vaios in general are sturdy, well built laptops of a decent quality and having always liked Sony branded items (I know, its bad to be tempted by name alone but its not like I was spending hundreds more just for the name, at this price), I ended up deciding to go for it, getting one for £399 at a local Comet store.
Read on for more information about it....
- Basic Spec. Stats. -
Ok so what do you get with this laptop? well it is one of, if not *the*, cheapest Vaio on the market, so clearly its not exactly the most highly powered, or feature packed, unit out there but considering the price and what I need, I find it suits me fine.
Here's the basic specification information, for anyone interested...
- OS (Operating System)
Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit. It also comes with the service pack 1 pre-installed, which saves you a bit of time as you don't have to install that before using it. With the Home Premium version of Vista, you get the Windows Media Center, which can be fun for scrolling through and selecting your favourite music and video files, though it is all patter really I suppose... like the 3D tiling, something that looks awesome the first time but honestly, I've hardly ever used myself since.
For anyone interested, this laptop has a 3.1 rating, as far as the Windows Experience Index is concerned (you can view this on a Vista machine by loading welcome center and clicking on 'Show more details').
Intel Pentium Dual Core T2390 @ 1.86ghz, which is slightly faster than my Toshiba (the Toshiba was only purchased about a year or so ago too). Now im no real IT expert but I believe this means that there are two processor chips (hence 'dual') that both run at the stated 1.86ghz. Its perfectly fast enough for anyone who mainly uses their computer for surfing the net, viewing and doing basic video editing every so often, like me.
- RAM (Random Access Memory)
2.00 GB. When you have Vista running, you really do need a decent amount of RAM, I hear that 2gb is almost the minimum for it to run fast enough that it doesn't drive you nuts (lol). I believe when it comes to the latest technology, you can now get up to about 4gb RAM but I find that 2GB is fine for my purposes/uses. The RAM basically helps the system run that little bit quicker and its used when you launch and run applications (programs). If you want to play music while also browse the 'net and maybe save a file through windows movie maker or something, multi tasking like that, then the more RAM you have the better, as it allows the computer to run all those applications quicker and lessens the chance of it crashing from the user requesting too many functions at once, if that makes any sense, basically the more RAM you have, the more multiple resources or applications/programs you can have running at once, I believe.
Considering there are still laptops being sold with as little as 512mb RAM, I feel 2gb is more than enough, even with Vista running. I can't think of a time where I've felt frustrated that it seemed to run particularly slow, apart from when it takes a while to shut down as it can do at times but to be honest I tend to blame Microsoft for that more than the hardware LOL. I tend to believe that if I had a new laptop with XP, rather than Vista, 1gb RAM would probably be more than enough, or close to it but oh well, there you go... its hard to find a new, modern laptop with everything else I'd like and a full warranty that runs XP and not Vista nowadays, so I guess I'm stuck having to 'get with the times' or whatever.
- Hard Disk Drive
The total capacity of the hard disk drive is 142gb. I think they advertise it as having 160gb but of course some of this space is used up by the OS (Vista) and pre-installed applications. Anyway I checked with 'my computer' and there it shows that the total space for drive c: is 142gb, so thats the total amount you have to play with, so to speak. I'm not too fussed about getting a large hard disk drive, considering I already have a 120gb external hard drive and a 7gb flash drive and external drives are getting so cheap, why pay 100s for a computer with a large hard disk drive when you could buy a portable one with over 100gb for under or around the £50 mark? 142gb is more than enough for me, especially considering my older Fujitsu Siemens I used until last year, that only had about 32gb in total!
- Graphics card
This laptop comes with a Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 card
- DVD Rewriter drive
The laptop comes with a DVD rewriter drive, so you can burn files onto recordable DVD disks. Its a DVD+RW/+R DL/RAM drive, so it will record on to DVD+R and DVD+RW recordable disks.
This laptop has a built in wireless ready functionality, so you only have to key in the details of your local network(s) once and it should automatically detect and log you onto it afterwards. There is a switch at the front of the laptop where you can switch the wireless LAN setting either on or off (it should be switched off in some places, such as during a flight etc., for safety reasons). The WLAN or wireless capability I believe is 802.11 b/g, if that means anything to you.
- What Other Features Are There, Externally etc.? -
- The Screen
This laptop features a 15.4" glossy screen/monitor. It is one of the glossier type screens but it seems nearly all modern laptops have that type of screen. I am a bit concerned that it does seem to attract a fair amount of dust and of course fingerprints show on it easily, its already started to look a little grubby but as nearly all laptops have such screens, I can't mark the Sony down for this alone really. I try to be careful and I have a microfiber cloth I use to clean it, when I remember *ahem*.
Anyway the screen is quite a nice size, its not too small that I feel I squint to read from it and its not too large that it means the laptop is too big and bulky and awkward to move either.
- Ports/Card Reader Slots
The following ports are built in
- 1x SD card media reader slot
- 1x Sony Memory Pro Duo reader slot
- 4x USB ports, 2 on one side and 2 on the other
- 1x ilink port (I believe this is used with digital camcorders and the like and is a Sony device)
- 1x headphone (standard 3.5mm port) & 1x microphone ports
- 1x VGA port (which I use to connect my laptop to my TV, the VGA port transfers picture from my laptop to TV). Be aware that this laptop does NOT include S-video out, which is also known as TV-out. Thats the connection normally used to provide both picture and audio from the laptop to a TV, the VGA port ONLY allows you to transfer picture to another monitor or a modern TV. You'll have to pay a bit more to get a laptop with a higher spec. that would include S-video out, if connecting your laptop to an older TV through scart is something your particularly keen on doing. I can only get it to work with my TV because my TV has a VGA port at the back labelled 'PC' and I use speakers separately to play the audio in front of the TV but most older TVs won't have that port/option...
Of course there is also the mains adapter plug/port, so you can use the laptop with the mains adapter plugged in and charge the battery up that way, as per usual. There are also two network ports, I believe these are for use if you were to cable a modem in or otherwise for use with network cables/connections, thats all I know, sorry im no real expert in these things but the main ports and slots I've already mentioned.
- Sony Site Spec. -
If you'd like to check, this link should take you to a page where the full technical specification of this Vaio model is shown from the UK Sony Vaio support site:- http://support.vaio.sony.co.uk/specifications/specifications.asp?site=voe_e n_GB_cons&c=0&s=VGN-NR&m=3374
- Pre-Installed Applications -
One nice advantage to buying a Vaio, even one of the cheapest ones like this, is that you get all the Vaio programs that come with all Vaio laptops. There are a number of programs that I got with my laptop, some of which include:-
- WinDVD for Vaio (for playback of video/movie files)
- Vaio Control Center (which lets you view and edit different settings related to the laptop)
- Vaio Content Exporter (which lets you convert mpeg video files)
- Vaio Data Restore Tool (why you'd use this instead of Windows Restore Point option, im not entirely sure)
- Google applications. It comes pre-loaded with a bunch of Google applications, including Picasa and Google desktop, which may or may not be of interest to you. Of course, these can all be downloaded for free through Googles site but if you use these anyway then it just saves you a bit of time as you don't have to sit and download them separately...
- McAfee. I got a 1 month free trial of McAffee SecurityCenter with the laptop but that might not be available everywhere, im not sure if that was just the shop I went to that offered that(?).
- Look, Style & Feel -
I have to say, I am pretty impressed with the Vaios ergonomic design. It has a different texture to the normal glossy/shiny type you might see on other laptops, on the bottom panel (around the keyboard etc.). This texture makes it alot easier to grip and lift/move the laptop about and, perhaps even better, it doesn't seem to get grubby or suffer from having lots of visible fingerprints show up on it either, which is a definite plus. This textured design is also featured on the top of the laptop lid, the only places its not applied to are both sides (where the ports are) and the bottom.
As well as this nice, easy to grip texture, the ergonomic design also includes a bigger than usual touchpad, which means that you don't I suppose hurt your fingers using a smaller touch pad. The two buttons below (for left and right click functions) have a rather posh sort of silver/chrome look and feel to them, which is nice to look at but the touchpad itself I feel can be a bit annoying for being so large at times, as I've found myself accidentally having two fingers on the touchpad at the same time, which messes the cursor up on screen, where I mean to have my other finger on the button but its easy to touch the pad by mistake, since its so large and there's little space between the touch pad and the buttons below.
Also the keys on the board are a nice size, not too small or too large and the keys work quite well. The keys aren't too large and you don't have to really push on them for the character to show up on screen, as I felt the keyboard on my old Toshiba was a bit stiff or something, the keys weren't quite as responsive but these seem fine.
In general though, I do quite like the design. Also its worth pointing out that I feel this laptop is particularly thin, or narrow, though it isn't exactly feather light but its not really 'chunky' either. I'm not bothered by the weight, since I hardly ever, if ever, take my laptop out the house but for anyone bothered about this, I'd say that it is still pretty heavy, you definitely need both hands to hold it up safely, put it that way! still, it is quite neat otherwise...
- Noise/Fan -
This is another section I thought I better add to my review here. The fan is located at the right side of the unit, if you put your hand near it then you'll easily feel the heat coming out of it when your using it, as you'd expect. The more highly powered the laptop, the more heat it generates and so a good fan is important and I've had no problems with the laptop over heating, so it seems to be good enough.
Another problem, or nuisance, can be the noise of the hard disk and of the fan and the unit in general, some laptops can be pretty noisy while their running and others aren't so bad. I'm quite happy with the noise level on this laptop. The keys aren't too noisy and there's only a light humming noise that you can hear while its running, its not as noisy as some laptops or computers I've heard. Just be careful with the fan to remember what side its on, never block it ( and dont put chocolate next to it, or anything that can melt, like I did accidentally to my old laptop forgetting how hot it is, I came back into the room 5 minutes later to find a pool of chocolate next to the laptop - :-( ), its pretty common sense stuff. The only element of the laptop that I noticed is a little noisy, though I am being a little picky perhaps in pointing this out, is, or are, the right and left click mouse/touchpad buttons, which make a fairly loud 'click' noise.
- Battery Life -
Some people complain that this units battery life isn't as good as it could be. Perhaps more expensive laptops have better battery life or energy consumption levels or what-not I don't know but I do tend to run my laptop off the mains for the most part and only run it off battery a couple of times a week or so, to keep the battery working. I've found that, so far, the battery tends to last around about two hours and a quarter, once fully charged and left to run on battery, it'll last about that long, which seems pretty average to me.
- What Else Does The Vaio 'Badge' Entitle Me To? -
Well not only do you get the undoubtedly patented ergonomic design but you can also join in by registering your laptop online, which will give you access to the Club Vaio site. Here you can find extra downloads and support help, there are discussion and support forums online, where you can post topics if you need a bit of help with something. I have used this service a couple of times and have received replies by people who have the badge (or title) 'Club Vaio Expert', so I presume they've been authorised to give out help and advice with basic to moderate problems with peoples Sony Vaios. You can find the support forum for Vaio notebooks/laptops here:-
The main European Club Vaio site can, of course, be found here:-
- So, Is It Any Good? What Are My Thoughts On This Laptop, So Far? Any Problems Encountered? -
Ok I admit I've only had it a month or so but I do use it daily. Having a good quality laptop is something that I feel is worth paying for and I was relieved that I wouldn't have to feel too much guilt given the price tag of this entry level Vaio.
The large touchpad can be a little annoying and I have noticed so far that on ocassion the 'fn' keys dont work, whereby I'll press the right key combinations but nothing appears on screen and there's no change to the screen brightness or volume and I have to restart the computer and try again, by which point the keys work fine. Hmmm... well I can't say thats something I like to see happening, especially so soon into having this laptop but restarting always seems to fix it and its only happened once or twice, where the buttons don't work.
The other slightly annoying thing I find, is that there isn't a manual volume knob on the laptop and to adjust the volume, other than by messing about with the volume control in Windows, you have to use the 'fn' key and f3 and f4 buttons. I'm used to just using a knob at the side of the laptop which this doesn't have, so thats a slight annoyance. This is what happens when you get used to something being there I guess lol its all change...
In general, I am very happy with my Vaio. The keys on the keyboard are easy to use, their not loud like some and it does have a nice design to it, I feel its a decent specification and I don't have any real problems with programs taking ages to load, so I don't feel its underpowered for my moderate computing uses. It looks good and runs pretty well and for the £400 mark, I am very happy.
If (and I hope it doesn't!) my laptop suddenly takes a turn for the worse, I'll be sure to edit this of course but for now, I wanted to add a review to let you know what this model offers and what I think of it. I may have only had it a month or so but I do use my laptop really quite frequently, so im pretty used to it now and can describe and explain it pretty well.
I hope this review has been helpful to you, if you have any questions or queries you think I might be able to help you with then feel free to leave a comment and I'll try and get back to you, incase I missed anything important out (but I hope I didn't).
This review can also be found on Ciao under my name there (the same name , IzzyS).
Many thanks for all R/R/Cs and thanks for reading!.