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Vaio laptops back in Singapore with new S11 and S13 ultraportables

August 16th, 2018 | by Alfred Siew
Vaio laptops back in Singapore with new S11 and S13 ultraportables
PC
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Models showing off the new Vaios at a Singapore launch on August 16, 2018. PHOTO: Handout

If you’ve been a fan of Sony’s Vaio laptops that were discontinued about four years ago, you’d be happy that similar models made by a new manufacturer will be out in Singapore next month.

The new Vaio S11 and S13 models, sporting 11.6- and 13.3-inch screens, are sold by Hong Kong-based Nexstgo Company. It has a license from Vaio Corporation in Japan, which had bought over Sony’s PC business back in 2014.

The new Vaio models have been selling in Japan for a few years now, but are making a return recently to selected markets such as Singapore, where the manufacturer hopes will win over new and old fans.

If you only glanced at the new Vaios, you’d be hard-pressed to find a difference between the new and old ones made by Sony. That’s both good and bad.

The Vaio S11 is the smaller of the two models launched today, with a 11.6-inch screen. It comes in pink too, if you don’t like black, silver, brown or white. PHOTO: Handout

First, the good. As a long-time Sony Vaio Pro 13 user – I just switched to a Dell XPS 13 this year – I can see all the good points that made the Japanese flagship laptop such a trailblazer five years ago.

The light yet tough carbon fibre shell is retained on the S13 model. Despite it being as thin as 15mm at one side, it has packed in full-sized ports for USB, HDMI and VGA.

There’s even an SD card slot, so don’t worry about bringing a dongle, unlike with many ultraportables today.

Added to the new Vaio are a network port and a fingerprint sensor that were not on the original Vaio Pro 13, but the new laptop is still a featherlight 1.07kg.

Certainly, the new models brought back good memories, when I saw them again today at the Singapore launch. Open up the screen and it is propped up at an angle for easy typing.

The familiar keyboard that is silent when you bang away is still there, as is the trademark hexagonal design. Having spent so many hours on the Vaio Pro 13, I was happy to see a new model come out again.

In silver, as well as black, the Vaio S13 comes with a 13.3-inch screen. PHOTO: Handout

At the same time, there’s no denying that parts of the laptop do look their age. Unfortunately, these will mark down the S13 and its smaller sibling, the S11.

The touchpad, for example, should have been bigger, like how rivals such as Apple have made theirs. The thick edges around the screen are also not as sleek as what you find on the Dell XPS 13, for example.

The display resolution is still at Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), which is fine for most users and should be the more efficient resolution compared to, say, QHD or 4K. After all, the 4-cell power pack has to power up the other components, such as the eighth-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor.

You also get a choice of 8GB or 16GB of memory, which is pretty standard issue for a top-end laptop. For storage, you have a choice of a 256GB or 512GB solid state drive (SSD).

Perhaps the biggest problem facing the new Vaios is price. To be fair, Sony’s flagship laptops were never cheap, but the new models starting at S$2,299 for the S11 and S$2,199 for the S13 face stiff competition from similar makes from Dell, Asus and HP.

Okay, the good news is that the laptops are still made in Japan, like the top-end models from Sony in the past. So, if you value the quality and assurance that brings, then the premium price may seem fair to you.

Still, there’s a sense that Nexstgo is targeting a niche market here. As a Vaio fan who has used his laptop for more than four years, I think the new models need a little more.

Perhaps slight updates to the design, like slimmer bezels or a larger trackpad. Even a model with a 4K screen, for those who want the latest and greatest. There needs to be a bit more than what made the Vaio so appealing five years ago.

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