Sony VAIO’s NS series of laptops are known for their ingenious design, efficient multimedia performance, ease of use and finally, for their high costs too. The following review is the latest laptop that belongs to the same series, but is a budget model. This model has strikingly the same look as its predecessor, the Sony VAIO NS20E/S. But there seem to be a £100 difference between the models. Let us see if the Vaio VGN- NS30E/S justifies the difference.
Textured finish and an excellent keyboard:
The initial impression of the Sony VAIO NS30E/S Laptop is quite positive. It has got a uniquely textured finish and has got Sony VAIO’s trademark bulky silver and black chassis. It feels very well built, one of the best built budget laptops in the market. The heavily textured finish gives the high end, kind of stylish look to the laptop. And the textured finish also keeps the fingerprints away. The excellent tile style keyboard makes typing a very pleasurable experience. The layout is very good and the large, shallow profiled keys sport a matte black surface that feels very good. They have a decent amount of travel and positive click. Sony’s designers have made a clever decision by not changing the touchpad which has a large smooth surface. The touchpad’s chromed buttons are a bit noisy, but offer excellent feedback.
A 15.4″ Display:
The Sony VAIO NS30E/S Notebook PC has a 15.4 inch display with a glossy finish. The display has a resolution of 1200 x 800 pixels. Sony has employed its TruBrite technology. The colours are bright and the black levels are above average. The backlight is ample enough to make viewing pleasant. The viewing angles are better than that of the previous model. Though some banding is visible, the text is very sharp. An anti-reflective coating minimizes glare to allow enjoyment of movies, games and photo slide shows outside in the garden as well as from a wide variety of viewing angles.The quality of audio is mediocre as in the NS20E. The speaker volume is just average and everything sounds quite flat and lacks bass. Hence, if you intend to listen to good music, then it is better if you use headphones or external speakers.
Connectivity and controls in VGN-NS30E/S:
Coming to the touch sensitive media controls of the laptop, Sony VAIO NS30E/S Laptop Computer follows Dell’s Inspiron 1545 in breaking this trend. Just above the keyboard, towards its right, you will find two buttons. The first one is used to mute the volume and the second is for initiating an XMB like interface which can be seen on the PSPs. The interface is an alternative way of accessing the multimedia, internet, laptop’s webcam and skype. On the left side of the laptop, there is a VGA, headphone, microphone and USB ports, a mini FireWire input and a 34mm express card slot. Though most of the laptops of this size have a 54mm slot, Sony has taken a better step by implementing a hinged flap in order to keep the dust out. A good idea, one that most of the other manufacturers must try to follow. Sony has included a 1.3 Megapixel Built-in ‘Motion Eye’ digital Camera as web cam.
Considering the higher price of this model when compared to its predecessor model, you might be expecting some extra connectivity. But the connectivity too is same as that of NS20. Sony has not included any eSATA or any form of digital video output. This is extremely disappointing. But, fortunately, this is the end of all the disappointments. From now on, the VIAO NS30 has features that only bring smile on to your faces.
The front of the laptop has a very handy wireless switch with a small LED, a SD memory card reader and another for its proprietary memory stick format. There are three LED power indicators, one for power, the second one for battery and the other one is for HDD activity. These LEDs are visible even when the laptop is kept closed. The DVD re-writer, and two more USB ports hence making a generous total count of four USB ports. The other connectivity options like Ethernet, modem and power inputs are found in the rear.
The internal features of NS30E/S:
So far we have been talking about the external features of the laptop and there was not much difference between the NS20 and NS30. But from now you will be reading about the internal features of the VAIO NS30E/S and hence you will be able to figure out the reason for expensiveness of the latter version. While the NS20’s processor was a 2.16GHz dual-core Intel Pentium with a 667MHz front-side bus, the NS30 comes with a 2.0GHz Intel Pentium T4200 with a faster 800MHz front-side bus. This new Intel Pentium Processor T4200 has employed an Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, which makes the operation of the laptop faster. Hence, while the clock speed on the system is slower, the front side bus which is faster will cancel out the difference. But, the difference is quite negligible.
OS and memory:
The included OS is the 32bit version of Windows Vista Premium. And hence the included RAM is 3GB, which all what this OS will be able to handle. This DDR2 SDRAM has a speed of 800MHz and the maximum memory that it can support is 8GB. Sony has not cared to change the graphics processor and still seems to make use of the Intel’s Integrated Express 4 series chipset. This chipset ensures good battery life, but even slightly demanding games do not get justice. The hard drive used is 250GB with spindle speed of 5400rps. There is no Bluetooth included and the WiFi is up to Draft N and we cannot expect less for this price.
Performance wise, the Sony VIAO NS30E/S Laptop Notebook does a great job. But what we feel is that, the laptop does not keep up to its value. The Dell Studio 15 laptop is a better alternative with additional advantages like an LED display, a core 2 Duo Processor, discreet graphics, more RAM, 64-bit Windows Vista OS, larger hard drive, a 54mm Express Card slot, HDMI and eSATA. In fact, there are a lot of other exclusive features included too.
NS30E/S Battery life:
The battery life is quite good for this form factor. The VIAO NS30E/S manages just less than five hours in low intensity reader test and four hours 20 minutes for the sake of multitasking productivity segment. But as you can see in the specifications, this model uses the same battery as that of NS20E, the 4,400mAh battery. The extra few minutes that the battery is able to obtain is solely because of the internal architectural changes.
Sony VIAO NS30E/S comes with 12 months warranty.
If you feel that the price of VIAO NS30E/S or that of the Dell 15 is quite high, then you can opt for Samsung 522. This model has a similar set of features with the additional advantages of great battery life, great keyboard, an attractive design too and lesser cost. But if you are really after the VIAO label and a greater battery life, the NS20E is still a good option. There is simply no reason why you must be spending £100 for very little performance upgrade and no noticeable additional features. Overall, we feel that its price is quite unreasonable.
Some of the other options are HP Compaq 6735s Laptop and Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 Laptop. They are similarly priced and is affordable too.
Sony VAIO VGN-NS30E/S Laptop – Technical Specifications, Features
|Model Name||Sony VIAO NS30E/S|
|Display||15.4″ LCD display|
|Resolution||1280 x 800 pixels|
|Dimensions (H x W x D) in mm||38 x 360 x 270|
|Operating System||Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Microsoft Windows Service Pack||1|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel GM45 Express Chipset|
|Memory Type||DDR2 SDRAM (1x2GB, 1x1GB)|
|Max. Supported Memory||8GB|
|Processor||Intel Pentium Processor T4200 with Enhanced Intel
|Front side bus||800MHz|
|Hard drive||250GB Serial ATA hard drive|
|Hard drive spindle speed||5400 rpm|
|Optical Drive Type||DVD+-RW, +-R DL, RAM|
|Drives Write speed||CD-R x24, CD-RW x24, DVD-R DL x6, DVD-R x8, DVD-RW x6,
DVD+R DL x6, DVD+R x8, DVD+RW x8, DVD-RAM x5
|Drives Read speed||CD x24, CD-R x24, CD-RW x24, DVD x8, DVD-R DL x8,
DVD-R x8, DVD-RW x8, DVD+R DL x6, DVD+R x8,
DVD+RW x8, DVD-RAM x5
|Graphics card||Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M|
|Total Graphics Memory||Approx. 1320MB|
|Integrated Wireless LAN||YES|
|Multimedia||Intel High Definition Audio compatible
Built-in Stereo Speakers
Windows Sound System Compatible
|Web cam||Built-in ‘Motion Eye’ Digital Camera|
|Frames per Second||Max. 30|
|Image Sensor||1.3 mega pixels|
|Motion Picture Function||Yes|
|Motion Pictures max. Resolution||1280×1024|
|Software included||Me & My VAIO, VAIO Music Box, Windows Media Player 11,
Picture Motion Browser, Content Importer / Exporter,
|Accessories supplied||AC Adaptor
|Battery Type||Lithium-Ion battery|
|Battery Life||240 minutes|
|Battery Charging Time||210 minutes|