Vaio SX14 assessment: A welcome return for the Vaio model, however sorely overpriced
5 years in the past, Sony offered nearly all of its Vaio subsidiary to Japan Industrial Companions – and the model vanished from the market, within the UK at the very least. Now, the brand new proprietor has revived it with two premium laptops. One is the Vaio A12, a slimline laptop-tablet hybrid with a removable keyboard that takes after the design of the Microsoft Floor E-book 2.
The opposite, which I’m reviewing right here, is the extra typical Vaio SX14. Billed by Vaio as a “day by day performer”, it’s a really mild and engaging laptop computer with a 4K show and nice connectivity. However is it a worthy heir of the Vaio identify?
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Vaio SX14 assessment: What it is advisable to know
There are a couple of configurations of the Vaio SX14 on the market; the one I examined is the top-end UK mannequin. It has a 14in non-touch IPS show with a local 4K decision and runs Home windows 10 Professional.
Inside there’s an Intel Core i7-8565U – a well-recognized chipset within the Professional Critiques labs – backed up by 16GB RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD. It’s a very good spec, however there are many laptops on the market proper now providing very related internals for lots much less cash.
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Vaio SX14 assessment: Value and competitors
The UK pricing of the Vaio SX14 feels unreasonable, particularly since US buyers should purchase it for significantly much less. The mannequin I’m reviewing right here prices £2,249, whereas within the US it goes for a reasonably extra cheap $1,899 – equal to roughly £1,470 earlier than tax. Even the most affordable variant, with a Full HD show, Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD prices £1,700 over right here. American patrons get entry to extra configurations too, together with a 1TB NVMe SSD possibility.
For British customers, due to this fact, the SX14 competes with some less expensive alternate options. The Asus ZenBook 14 UX433FA, which I reviewed at simply £999, packs the identical Core i7 chipset and comes with the same-sized 512GB PCIe SSD as well. It has 8GB RAM, which is half as a lot because the SX14, however that’ll be sufficient for most individuals – and it’s not a lot of a compromise for a saving of £1,250. What’s extra, the ZenBook presently holds the title of world’s smallest 14in laptop computer.
Then there’s the Dell XPS 13 (2019), which for £1,400 has once more that very same i7-8565U CPU, with 8GB RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD. Or, although it’s not accessible within the UK on the time of writing, the Huawei MateBook 14 is one other wonderful 14in laptop computer that’s less expensive than the Vaio SX14 – and it even has devoted Nvidia MX250 graphics.
If you happen to’re actually seeking to spend greater than £2,000 on a laptop computer, we are able to additionally throw the 13.5in Microsoft Floor E-book 2 as a wildcard – initially reviewed at £2,999 however presently accessible for £2,595. This offers you an Intel Core i7-8650U, 16GB RAM and 1TB of storage along with a robust Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. It’s hardly low cost, but it surely’s nonetheless higher worth than the SX14.
Vaio SX14 assessment: Design
Pricing apart, the Vaio SX14 is a superb piece of equipment. The sturdy, light-weight chassis is a fusion of carbon and aluminium, and the black end is extraordinarily trendy (the copper brown and silver finishes are good too, however the black seems to be essentially the most interesting for my part). What’s extra, someway all of it weighs solely 999g, making it the lightest typical laptop computer I’ve encountered. That’s nice for individuals who work on the transfer, and its trim dimensions (320 x 223 x 18 mm) will slot into any rucksack with ease.
Whereas the SX14 boasts a 90% display-to-bezel ratio, the brow bezel is greater than I’d like – bigger certainly than the one-megapixel webcam requires. There’s additionally a rubberised ridge that extends a couple of millimetre from the highest of the bezel, which ensures the display doesn’t press towards the keyboard when the lid is closed. It supplies a very good little bit of safety from grime, but it surely’s somewhat ugly – and the lid itself may do with a tad extra reinforcement because it’s too flexible for my liking.
The lid additionally encompasses a self-raising mechanism that bears a exceptional resemblance to the one discovered on the most recent Asus ZenBooks (such because the ZenBook 14), solely extra exaggerated. It really works very merely: right into a curved lip on the base of the lid are moulded two small plastic toes, and these push the again of the keyboard as much as fairly a steep angle when it’s open. It’s snug to kind on, and crowd pleasing too – plus, it helps the bottom of the laptop computer breathe and hold cool.
Maybe the Vaio SX14’s largest energy is connectivity. On the left edge, there’s a three.5mm headphone/mic combo jack, two USB three Kind-A ports and a proprietary energy connector; on the correct you’ll discover an SD card reader, a USB three.1 Kind-A port, a USB three.1 Kind-C port (with DisplayPort), an HDMI enter, a fold-out RJ45 Ethernet port and, lastly, a VGA connector. All of this makes the Vaio SX14 supremely sensible as a enterprise laptop computer – way more so than you’d anticipate from its exceptionally light-weight design.
It’s price noting that the little lightning-bolt symbols beside the USB Kind-A and Kind-C ports point out charging capabilities – not Thunderbolt three. That’s a disgrace contemplating the value; Vaio’s clarification is that with so many different connectors and controllers on board, there merely weren’t sufficient PCI Categorical lanes accessible for Thunderbolt and that not many exterior units use it anyway. At any price, the plethora of different ports go a good distance in the direction of making up for it.
Vaio SX14 assessment: Keyboard and touchpad
Earlier than discussing the deserves of the keyboard and mouse I need to point out what I name “the hum” – or electrovibration, because it’s extra generally recognized. It is a phenomenon that manifests as a mild buzzing or buzzing feeling in your fingers once they contact the bottom of the laptop computer whereas it’s plugged in. It’s not harmful, but it surely does level to a grounding problem with the facility provide; hopefully it received’t be a problem on manufacturing , however I definitely felt it whereas testing the SX14 and located it considerably distracting – particularly when typing, as you continually really feel the buzzing within the palms of your palms.
Except for that, the chiclet-style keyboard is kind of odd. I do admire a wholesome quantity of key journey in a keyboard, although, and the SX14 didn’t fairly meet my requirements. The chassis could possibly be sturdier across the keys too, because it depresses a good method whenever you push it down. The keyboard backlight at first seems to be like a pleasant premium contact, however annoyingly, there’s no solution to disable or dim it: it prompts everytime you kind and fades out after about ten seconds of inactivity.
The touchpad, in the meantime, is maybe my least favorite a part of the SX14, mainly as a result of it’s about two-thirds of the dimensions I’m used to; as Derek Zoolander would possibly say, “What is that this, a touchpad for ants?!” The left and proper clickers beneath the touchpad are proportionately smaller as effectively. Palm-rejection hardly works both, so if you happen to plan to make use of the Vaio SX14 for lengthy durations of time I’d suggest you flip off the touchpad (utilizing the Fn+ F1 shortcut) and plug in a mouse as an alternative.
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Vaio SX14 assessment: Show
The 14in IPS show on the SX14 seems to be excellent, with a local 4K decision and a fantastically excessive most luminance of 440cd/m2. That’s method brighter than you’ll ever want for indoor use, even beneath harsh lights – it’ll even serve you fortunately open air in all however essentially the most obtrusive circumstances. A 1,327:1 distinction ratio, in the meantime, implies that photos are each vibrant and strong, and the panel has wonderful viewing angles, with a matte end that mutes reflections.
It does a good job of color copy as effectively. I measured an sRGB gamut quantity of 105% and an sRGB protection of 93.5%, which implies that the colors it produces correspond fairly intently to the sRGB vary that’s used throughout all net content material and nearly all of laptop functions. It’s even able to HDR video streaming, although this doesn’t prolong to video games and apps. A median Delta E of two.54 signifies concerning the diploma of color accuracy I’d anticipate from a premium laptop computer – not fairly as much as skilled photo-editing requirements, however not at all dangerous.
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Vaio SX14 assessment: Efficiency and battery life
We’ve already reviewed a number of different laptops constructed across the quad-core Intel Core i7-8565U chipset, so the SX14’s benchmark outcomes had been no shock. It achieved an general rating of 97 in our in-house CPU check, precisely matching the Huawei MateBook 14, which makes use of the identical CPU with 16GB RAM. And because the chart under reveals, the Asus ZenBook 14 and Dell XPS 13 with their 8GB RAM setups aren’t far behind.
In use, the Vaio SX14 feels good and fast in on a regular basis duties, and functions and video games open up with nice pace. It does, nevertheless, pump out a good bit of scorching air from the exhaust grille on the left-hand aspect when it’s working exhausting: in the course of the benchmarking course of all 4 cores reached at the very least 94º Celsius, and one hit 96º – not far off the utmost protected temperature of 100º. Nonetheless, I didn’t discover any scorching spots on the undercarriage or across the keyboard, which are typically downside areas in laptops with poor warmth administration.
Storage efficiency is usually good – however uneven. Within the AS SSD benchmark, the SX14’s 512GB PCIe SSD learn sequential recordsdata at a wonderful pace of two,557MB/sec, beating out rivals together with the business-oriented ThinkPad X1 Carbon. That’s little question a part of the rationale it feels so fast in use – however sequential writing was far slower, at simply 314MB/sec. That’s the worst efficiency of all of the laptops we in contrast, though solely simply behind the Dell XPS 13.
The Vaio SX14 additionally lagged behind the pack within the GFXBench OpenGL graphics benchmark, managing a median of simply 6.2fps within the Automotive Chase onscreen check. Nonetheless, the off-screen check accomplished at a way more persuasive common of 34.3fps, which means that the onscreen check may need been affected by a show driver problem. If that’s the case, there’s hope future replace may enhance issues considerably.
Leads to DiRT Showdown had been as much as par as effectively, with the Vaio SX14 placing down a median body price of 47.4fps within the 720p benchmark – about the identical as its rivals. Naturally, although, it will possibly’t sustain with the devoted GPUs within the Huawei MateBook 14 and Microsoft Floor E-book 2. Certainly, for the value, the built-in Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU is fairly disappointing: if you would like a good body price, it’s a must to set the decision a good distance under what that 4K display is able to.
Nonetheless, one benefit of built-in graphics is low energy consumption – and that’s simply as effectively as a result of right here the SX14 wants all the assistance it will possibly get. Vaio claims that it’ll see you thru the working day with no need a top-up, however we discovered the 35Wh battery gave us solely 3hrs 32minutes of steady video playback from a full cost. That’s very disappointing, particularly for a laptop computer that’s clearly designed for portability: the Dell XPS 13 and Huawei MateBook 14 each lasted round seven hours longer in the identical check. FHD variants of the SX14 will in all probability do higher, nevertheless, as 4K shows are by no means nice for energy effectivity.
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Vaio SX14 assessment: Verdict
Many people have fond reminiscences of the previous Sony Vaio laptop computer vary. The emblem was synonymous with trendy design and strong efficiency, even turning into the tech model of alternative for James Bond. Sadly, the reborn Vaio is a little bit of a let-down.
That’s to not say that the SX14 is a foul laptop computer, not by any means. It is a modern, light-weight machine with a implausible show and nice connectivity. Efficiency is high notch too.
However it definitely has shortcomings, such because the undersized touchpad and woeful battery life. And the largest downside by far is that worth: it’s simply not on to ask £2,249 for a laptop computer with this specification, regardless of how good it could feel and appear, when you may choose up the Dell XPS 13 (2019) for £850 much less – or select the Asus ZenBook 14 and save over a grand,