***Sony Vaio FW*** Stone-cold killer on a Budget! It was Apple vs Sony for my money.

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by wikoogle, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. wikoogle macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    And Sony won. I picked up this up for just $744 (after 12.3% bing cashback off of the original $850 (Google it if you don't know what bing cashback is)) but tigerdirect has been altering the price a bit so it might be a little more for you.


    My Mini Review

    It's gorgeous, pictures don't do it justice. It looks more metallic in person than it does in pictures. I honestly think it's better looking than the MBP.

    It's been whisper quiet, it doesn't feel heavy at all and the only time i noticed it getting even a little warm is when I was a burning a blu ray backup of my whole computer using norton ghost 15.

    The paint and finish on the laptop is incredible. (Don't buy the newer F series laptops, they look like crap compared to the FW models). But I do hear the paint tends to peel off or scratch over time so I am going to apply this shield http://www.zagg.com/invisibleshield/sony-vaio-vgn-fw140e-cases-covers-skins-shields.php on the laptop to keep it looking like new (it gives me a chance to use the 40-50% off zagg coupon deal posted on slickdeals).

    It's insanely fast. Don't let the C2D in there fool you. It uses one of the newest C2D's built on 32nm's same as the i5s, and its incredibly fast thanks to the awesome GPU taking over for tasks like video streaming.

    How fast? Well burning a blu ray backup of my whole computer only took me 24 minutes, and later I had my usb HD TV tuner w/ antenna plugged into it, watching and recording Jimmy Fallon in HD off the air on my laptop, and just to test it out, I simultanously started Microsoft Office 2010 installation and started copying over all of my photos from my external hdd.

    All three tasks executed simultanously in the background while I proceeded to browse Macrumors on Firefox with no noticable slow down.

    The screen is fantastic (though I would have preferred the 1920x1080 RGB Screen Option, but it makes the text look too small and costs too much more than this model). Blu Ray movies look incredible on it.

    Getting the Most Out of It

    The one thing you should do, is do a clean install of Windows 7 to get rid of all the crap and bloatware software it comes with by default. Download a clean unmodified copy of Home Premium from torrents or something, and install it, type in the cd key in the bottom of the laptop to activate.

    Then google and install Microsoft Security Essentials (it's a completely free antivirus and firewall program from Microsoft that is lightyears ahead of Norton and even Avast and AVG in terms of performance, you don't even realize that it's running).

    Prevent programs from starting up with windows. The ONLY program that should startup with windows or run in the background is Microsoft Security Essentials. Use ccleaner (it's a free program) to disable EVERYTHING else. Do that, and the laptop will run as good as new always. Get PowerDVD for all your blu ray playback needs, and PowerISO for your burning needs, because none of the sony software it comes bundled with is very good.

    If you ever experience any type of slow down at all using Windows 7. Just download "ccleaner", and run that (it's free). Use ccleaner to disable all startup programs other than antivirus (ccleaner also lets you clean out your registry and delete junk to free up space). And defrag your computer once. It should run as good as new.


    I hackintoshed it without too much difficulty to dual boot both Windows 7 and OSX (neither the blu ray burner nor the wifi work in OSX, but everything else works perfectly and it can burn dvds fine in OSX. If you really need to hackintosh, I would buy the Dell wifi card for $13 on ebay and swap it out, the Dell wifi works perfectly in OSX according to other hackintoshers). Check InsanelyMac if you run into trobule with anything.


    I'm SO happy with the purchase and the design of the laptop. This is only the second laptop I've seen that looks everybit as attractive as the Unibody Macbook Pros. (On the same note, I hate the newer F series laptops that have the number pad and off center mouse pad. Those two things completely screwed up the design that the older FW got right on so many levels).

    The graphics card it packs blows the 9600 and most other laptop GPUs out of the water. According to notebookcheck.net's benchmarks, it compares well to or significantly outperforms every GPU released in 2009 or before and only loses the fight to ATI's brand new 5830 and 5850 series.

    I ran Need for Speed Shift with all of the graphics options cranked up to max and it ran rock solid.

    And best of all, it has a Blu Ray Burner (hoping Apple starts including those soon too)!! and all sorts of other goodies (7200rpm hdd, HDMI, Firewire, Bluetooth, WiFi A/B/G/N etc)

    Yes I know that it has DDR2 800 ram but I researched extensively on the ram and it turns out that DDR2 800 actually slightly outperforms DDR3 1033 and is identical in performance to DDR3 1333 (which no laptop even uses) because DDR2 currently has a much lower latency.

    Don't take my word for it, look through these links...

    http://www.breakitdownblog.com/ddr2-800-vs-ddr3-1333-does-speed-matter/ - A worthwhile read if you're considering this laptop.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/245145-30-ddr2-ddr3 - It's a forum discussing this topic that has links to benchmarks comparing ddr2 and ddr3 from anandtech, xbitlabs and extremetech.

    So the only thing missing is that it doesn't have Arrandale (which is asking for a lot in a $750 laptop that already has both a kickass GPU and a Blu Ray burner).

    If you do end up getting the same laptop, be sure to use the Bing Cashback to knock another $105 off the current $850 listed price tag (update: TD raised the price to $880 :( still a great deal though).
  2. Jaxdialation macrumors regular

    Mar 24, 2010
  3. wikoogle thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    Thank you. I'm very pleased. :)

    About that zagg coupon code that I used to get a skin for my laptop...

    Simply go to zagg.com and click where it says "Win a Free Apple iPad" in the bottom right corner of the screen.

    They will email you a coupon code good for between 20-50% off. If they only send you the 20% off or 30% off coupon.

    Use Hotspot Shield to hide your ip and submit multiple entries using multiple email addresses until you score an email with a 40% or 50% off coupon code.
  4. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Good choice for the computer.

    It wouldn't have been mine as I'm now quite dependent on OS X; if my work flow used more Windows, I would definitely go that way since Windows 7 is so nice.
  5. Dozerrox macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2009
    I'm on an FW until the update (an older one though). 2.26 P8400, 3 gigs of ram, some fairly lame ATI video card.

    It's done me well, and has been nice on Win 7. Just looking for OSX and a few things won't work on this laptop in hackintosh. CPU stays very cool as well.

    Just so you know, be careful of the hinge tube on the power adapter side. I've heard it can be a little brittle (I've had no probs with it, just make sure you take care!).

    Congrats B).
  6. Sn0wball macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2009
    I actually bought the FW last autumn and sent it back, preferring to see what any new i7/Arrandale Macbook Pro may offer (I know, I've been waiting since then. It was late autumn, and I decided to plug on using my self-built desktop PC during winter until the spring [now] to see what the laptop world may bring. In Apple's case, nothing.).

    The FW was better specced yet half the price of a Macbook Pro.

    Why did I send it back?

    • Many people complained about the finish of the FW, particularly where the palm-rest is, the silver stippled paint finish wears away leaving bare white plastic underneath. I am a coder, and certainly don't want this to happen.
    • Where the jack for the power adapter goes into the laptop did not inspire confidence. It wiggles slightly freely and is a prime target for expensive accidents. People have accidently snapped off the whole plastic "barrel" in doing so.
    • I felt the one-lamp "eco" screen (1600x900) was terrible for use with graphic/web design. No matter how much I tweaked the colour profiles or hardware related controls I could not get a reliable colour representation of graphic content on-screen. The colours appeared wishy washy and bleached. However I didn't try the FW with the two-lamp 1920x1080 screen as I personally feel more comfortable using a lower resolution. Indeed many have expressed that a 1920x1080 resolution leaves them squinting. But ultimately it depends on personal preference and is not an negative issue as such, it depends how you personally like to work. My personal preference is a lower resolution, such as the 1600x900, but this screen failed to deliver in terms of image/colour reproduction.
    • I only found after I bought it that I don't like 16:9 ratio screens. I much prefer 16:10 for computing. After the operating system displays the startbar and menus both at the bottom and top of the screen respectively, it eats into (and reduces) the prime visual working space. I feel 16:9 is good for movies, but not for computing. It's a cost-cutting measure driven by profits alone. Unfortunately it's becoming harder and harder to find 16:10 notebooks.
    • I'd prefer a solid metal chassis to a plastic one. It wasn't possible to see if the FW was metal or plastic in the photos before I bought it, and Sony made it hard to find an email address for pre-sales questions, and also didn't answer emails even when I did send them.

    That said, the FW was amazingly fast, like a bullet from a gun, and the OS responded amazingly, and the notebook was whisper quiet in use. But the wishy washy, bleached screen made it a deal breaker for me. As a web/graphic designer, I couldn't get on with it.
  7. wikoogle thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    Thank you.

    I'm worried about this in the future as well. I may have to buy a skin for the laptop if this is an issue. Where did you hear about this issue? Did anyone have any solutions (a recommended skin perhaps).

    But I love the screen and the size. 16:9 is awesome, especially since HDTV content displays perfectly on it without any black bars.

    Honestly, my only disappointment with the FW is that it doesn't have a built in tv tuner and antenna.

    On the huge beautiful 16:9 LCD, over the air HD channels look absolutely gorgeous on the laptop.

    Unfortunately, I can currently only watch over the air HD channels on the laptop with an external USB tv tuner + antenna.

    It would be fantastic if it was already built into the laptop rather than having this big black thing sticking out of my USB port.
  8. yoyo5280 macrumors 68000


    Feb 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia & Bay Area
    Congratulations. Looks like a great machine.

    But i'm not so keen on the design honestly. At all.
  9. kaiserben macrumors member


    Mar 19, 2010
    South of France
    2 hours battery life and noisy like the hell?
  10. wikoogle thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    Noisy!? It's actually extremely quiet and runs very cool.

    I like the design. Pics don't do it justice. It looks far better in person though, and actually looks quite similar to a MBP. I am planning to skin it possibly with one of these... http://cgi.ebay.com/Laptop-Notebook...=63&clkid=8978356309079581388#ht_52686wt_1165

    because I'm concerned about the paint on this fading off.

    And it gets about 3 hrs of battery life. Which I guess isn't a lot. But this is meant to be a desktop replacement after all. And with a big ass screen, a kickass GPU and a blu ray burner, 7200 rpm HDD, HDMI etc, I really couldn't ask for much more for $700.
  11. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    And this is being posted on a Mac forum because.....?
  12. kaiserben macrumors member


    Mar 19, 2010
    South of France
    Because people want to convince themselves they did a great choice buying some PC craps because it has ** amazing ** (specs on the paper) inside.

    Good for them.
  13. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    Nice specs for the price. Like one of the other posters, I'm not sure I'd want a 16:9 screen though. A minor niggle.

    On a side note, I can't stand that every PC out there has to have those stupid stickers on them advertising the CPU, GPU and OS. It's cheesy and ugly. It's like buying a car and having the dealer slap one of those dealer stickers on the back. No thanks!
  14. Dozerrox macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2009
    You can just take them off...
  15. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    I'm going to be doing just that tonight, and grumbling about it. How about just not sticking them there in the first place?
  16. vant macrumors 65816

    Jul 1, 2009
    See, the 'Apple takes too long to update' crew is even getting C2D Windows laptops just because they can't stand it.
  17. Sn0wball macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2009

    Mine was extremely quiet. I can't comment on the battery life as I only used it briefly and sent it back within two days.

    I just wished Sony offered the lower resolution screen with two lamps as opposed to one-lamp, and in matte (the gloss was truly horrible out in the garden, even under a parasol), and in 16:10 instead of 16:9, otherwise the laptop would most likely have been a keeper for me. Speed wise, it FLEW.

    You can see the difference in brightness/colour output of the Vaio FW "eco" option screen compared with a Dell XPS Studio (albeit with full RGBLED screen):


    XPS Studio with RGBLED left, FW Vaio with one-lamp Eco screen on the right.

    Those Vaio FW users who opted for the two-lamp 1920x1080 screen enjoyed a decent colour/brightness output. But the one-lamp Eco screen was poor (as shown above). And of course I didn't want the paint on the palm-rest to wear away.

    Otherwise it was a nice looking machine.

    My specific FW was a Sony VGN FW 35V.
  18. sioannou macrumors member


    Mar 25, 2010
    Nicosia Cyprus
    No offence , but why we have to see all things as "us versus them?"
    I think the purpose of this forum is to discuss not only the products of Apple but also other products related to Apple ones. So i find very useful this post as through this we can learn about what is happening in the market , and for sure if i find that the new MBPs dont satisfy my computer needs I will search for alternative options , as I dont want to spend my money on something that does not satisfy me , only because its name its Apple.
  19. wikoogle thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    Thank you for the awesome posts Snowball and Sioannou.

    I'll look into the screen issue. It looks great to me but I'll get some comparisons with other laptops.

    The main updates I wanted were to the GPU, a higher resolution screen, hdmi and to have a Blu Ray drive. I honestly think C2D is fast enough for my needs but the GPU and the lack of blu ray were definately lacking. Refer to my previous posts.

    Besides, the other main complaint is that Apple charges a lot.

    This is a $700 laptop (half the price of a low end MBP) that has a blu ray burner, hdmi, the perfect screen resolution and a kickass gpu (you can't even get a MBP with those specs yet). So I'm pleased. :D
  20. LesQQmorePewPew macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2009
    b/c its cheaper
  21. kaiserben macrumors member


    Mar 19, 2010
    South of France
    I'm a mac, you're a PC. We've both done our choice;)

    The important is people are happy with the stuff they have in hand*.
    *even if it's a crappy PC ******** noisy and hot like the Jenna Jameson's ass:D
  22. Relznuk macrumors 6502


    Sep 27, 2009
    UT, USA
  23. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    None taken....Here's why: The Title of this thread -

    ***Sony Vaio FW*** Stone-cold killer on a Budget! It was Apple Vs Sony for my money.

    And also some choice quotes from Wikoogle from another thread he started called "Apple’s MacBook Pro: Rotting Core? What Apple Doesn't Want You To Realize."

    "You don't think it matters to video editors and such whether the laptop offers an outdated weak performing processor" (Just to be clear, he's talking about the Core 2 Duo here).


    "If you spend more than an hour on cnet and gadget blogs per month (even if you're just there to read up on the latest camera lenses), you will have heard about the i7 processors and blu ray drives and how big of a leap they are technologically."

    So the Core 2 Duo is OK if it's in a Sony Vaio then. I'm singling Wikoogle out because he clearly has an agenda which is to deride Macs and their users at every turn. On another more generic forum, I would be fine with this, but on a Mac specific forum, it's clearly just sh*t stirring.

    FWIW, I have no issue with the machine he's bought. If you want a budget laptop that is big on specs but cuts corners in build quality, screen quality, battery life and you're happy with a plastic chassis where the paint peels off then this is clearly the laptop for you.....Enjoy.
  24. wikoogle thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    Spoken like someone who has had no experience with the laptop at all.

    Have you even used the laptop much less seen it in person? There's nothing wrong with either the build quality or the screen quality. Getting scratches after heavy use isn't a big deal. Our old MBP's screen developed a bend which IMO is a bigger deal than a few marks on the exterior that can be avoided with a skin or screen protector or just careful use. No it's not perfect, no device is. And I openly say that it's a problem Sony should answer in future models. But it's a fantastic value for the price qnd gives lots of bang for the buck which is why I bought it.

    This is one of the newer 32nm Core 2 Duos built using the same process as the i5 and i7s. It benchmarks pretty close to even high end desktop processors. It's actually the GPU and the lack of blu ray player that are holding Macbook Pros back more than anything else. Laptop processors have always been similar in performance to desktop processors.

    The GPU is one of the most important components of any compute for a variety of tasks. And yet, laptops in this area were always about 2 generations behind desktop gpus in performance. And the Macbook Pros are even worse for this, because they use really outdated laptop GPUs so they're almost three generations behind sometimes. And I personally need a blu ray player. I have a great collection of blu ray movies and netflix keeps sending me more that I love to watch over at my friends places and when traveling (since unlike MBP batteries, Vaio batteries are removable, I can easily carry around an extra battery or two with me for long trips).

    On a $700 Laptop packing a blu ray player, a blu ray burner and a kickass gpu that kicks the 9600 in the nuts, hell yes it is. If I paid $1200 for that laptop, I could see expecting an i5 alongside the blu ray burner and gaming gpu.

    Find me a MBP anywhere within a $500 of that price range with comparable specs and I'll Happily return this laptop and buy that one. Good luck though seeing as how apple doesn't see fit to offer a blu ray Burner much less a Player and a decent gpu in even the high end $2700 MBPs.

    If you think asking that a $2000+ laptop actually offers a decent gpu, blu ray and an uptodate processor is done for some ulterior purpose than that is honestly exactly how I feel, you're wrong.
  25. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    Isn't this the dude that posted the Z series "stone cold killer" thread?

    I have an F series, and yes they do look a little clumsier than an FW, but after having used an FW I don't think I'd even consider one.

    First, there's that core 2 duo... why the hell would you buy.. He wasn't even going to buy a MBP in the first place! LOL :D

    Man if you're going to switch to a bigger, heavier laptop, at least get one with a high res screen and a faster processor or something.. :D

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