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Sony Vaio FW Series: A Developer’s Review

For the past three months or so I haven’t had a computer of my own. This is not as bad as it sounds, because I’ve had work hardware, but such computers are intended to be used for work purposes only. Now that DB2 on Mac has been released, I’m waiting on the new 17″ MacBook Pro, which will be added to the setup as well, but again, that’s a work machine and it won’t arrive for at least a month due to delays on Apple’s side. Long story short, I grew tired of being without a personal laptop after my own MacBook Pro died numerous weeks ago, so I decided to take the plunge and purchase a moderately priced replacement. What follows is a review of the laptop I ended up purchasing as my day-to-day personal model, after a lot of careful consideration, and a list of features I required (in order of priority).

My requirements

  • My main operating system needs to be Ubuntu, so most components should work with Linux.
  • A relatively fast machine for development. It should be able to handle Aptana Studio, NetBeans and even Visual Studio occasionally (without breaking a sweat).
  • An entertainment laptop. I want to be able to watch hi-definition movies from the comfort of my bed at night. To do this a large, wide screen, high resolution, and a Blue-Ray reader were paramount.
  • It needed to be able to facilitate backups for several gigabytes of data, which means it needed to have a combo drive that’s able to burn DVDs.
  • Sturdy overall construction.
  • Look sleek and be relatively ergonomic.
  • It had to be affordable (my budget was roughly $1500/1600 CND).

My choice

Believe it or not, there weren’t too many available choices that were able to satisfy my requirements and my budget. For a while I had a crush on the Dell XPS 16, but unfortunately the Full HD option and the Blue-Ray/DVD Burner combo jacked the cost up several hundred dollars over my budget. This model is also well known for its tendency to become extremely hot (e.g., 115° F) while on your lap, and after the problems with heat that my old MacBook Pro had, I decided that this model was definitely a no-go.

After researching numerous models, I finally came across the perfect match: the Sony Vaio VGN-FW285D/H for $1600 CND (listed price $1650 CND). The exact model names and configurations change from country to country, and even in Canada, several lower end models exist (and there’s also a “configure to order” option which ends up being slightly more expensive spec-by-spec).

Sony Vaio FW285D/H

The titanium gray model I purchased has the following specifications:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400, 2.26GHz FSB 1066MHz, 3MB L2 Cache
  • 4GB RAM PC2-6400 (2GBx2) (Max 4GB)
  • 320GB SATA disk (7200RPM)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 with 512MB dedicated VRAM (incorrectly listed as 256MB on the Canadian site)
  • 16.4″ Screen, XBRITE-Full HD (1920 x 1080), HDMI and VGA out with Smart Display Sensor
  • Blue-Ray Burner (Burns CDs, DVDs, and BDs, including dual layer)
  • Intel WiFi Link 5100AGN (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit SP1

And of course it comes with the usual yadda-yadda: 1.3MPix Motion Eye camera, Dolby Sound (pretty good), a bunch of media cards readers, 3 USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port (IEEE 1394), Gigabit Ethernet, modem, Bluetooth, etcetera. If you are purchasing this laptop in the States, you can get the same model on Amazon.com for only $1295.

What I like about this computer

There are many things that appeal to me about this laptop:

  • Performance: Talk about a fast laptop! Faster than my previous MacBook Pro. There are speedier processors on the market, but the P8400 is plenty quick as far as I can tell. This Vaio is also very snappy thanks to its large 7200rpm hard drive – something that I really appreciate as a developer and photography enthusiast. Despite Vista being Vista, it’s a very fast computer which boots up in a few seconds and can run heavy IDEs no questions asked. On Ubuntu (more on this later) it’s extremely fast. Finally, not being a heavy gamer, I find the ATI HD 3650 with 512MB VRAM more than adequate for everything I need to do.
  • Full HD Screen: I find the screen on this laptop to be spectacular. Colors are crisp and vivid, with excellent antiglare control. The view angle is remarkable too, you could easily seat four people around the laptop and they would all see a nice, crisp picture. It’s ideal for presentations and demos when a projector isn’t on hand. The 16:9 aspect ratio is amazing for watching movies, and very useful when trying to have more than one window open on the screen simultaneously. My wife and I watched a blue-ray movie on it and were both blown away by how awesome the whole full-hd experience (on this laptop) was. As I switched from the notebook to a desktop that’s hooked up to a Samsung SyncMaster 275t, the external monitor felt dull all of a sudden.
  • Blue-Ray burner: This is overkill – good overkill, that is. I would have been happy with a Blue-Ray reader and a DVD writer, but the presence of a Blue-Ray recorder really makes this laptop shine. Yes, blank Blue-Ray media is still expensive, but prices are coming down, and the ability to backup 25 or 50GB on a single disk is an extremely welcome bonus.
  • Cool and quiet: Despite the size and processing power, this laptop is definitely on the quiet side and I must say that even under stress, it remains relatively cool. The heat exhaust is on the left side, so you can safely place the laptop on your lap or on a table, without experiencing a huge deal of heat or having it shut down like some laptops are prone to doing.
  • Construction and Ergonomics: I find the notebook to be very well constructed. It’s sturdy and feels very solid, though it doesn’t feel quite as solid as a unibody MacBook Pro. I believe the lid chassis is made of metal, while the rest is constructed from durable plastic. The area where your wrists rest is made of plastic but almost feels like aluminium. There is also a slight slope between the touchpad and keyboard that makes typing very comfortable. Overall, despite the large screen, this laptop is not cumbersome, and it definitely packs a sleek, modern design which is likely to appeal to many. It sits comfortably on my laps and isn’t particularly heavy either. Sure, it’s not an ultra-portable sized computer, but considering its 16.4″ screen, I think it’s still fairly easy to tote around. The keyboard is Mac-like, even though to be fair, this style of keyboard (wherein the keys are neatly separated from each other) was first adopted by Sony and later implemented by Apple. The touchpad is nice too with very smooth scrolling (always a plus).
  • Reliable wi-fi: So far the wi-fi connection seems to be working very reliably. It has been connected with full signal since the first moment I provided credentials to my wireless network, and the speed appears to be great. Other laptops I’ve tried in my house have been far less reliable.
  • Compatible with Linux: More on this topic below.
  • HDMI Output: Having a single HDMI output (for both audio and video) made connecting the laptop to my HDTV a breeze.
  • Free Blue-Ray movies: In Canada the laptop came with three Blue-Ray movies. This isn’t a big selling point, but it’s a nice bonus. In my case, I received Casino Royale, Hitch, and Surf’s Up.

Sony Vaio FW285D/H

What I dislike about this laptop

It is hard to find negative things to say about the FW285D/H, especially if you consider the wealth of features and its affordable price tag. But I’m going to nitpick a bit, so as to make the review more informative:

  • The high resolution implies that fonts tend to be on the smaller side of things. This, depending on the user, can be a pro or a con, but be aware of it beforehand if you tend to like your font size on the hefty side.
  • On Windows the current drivers seem to only offer the spectacular 1920×1080 resolution and two other very low resolutions. I don’t see intermediary resolutions like 1366×768, which would make the font larger for whenever you don’t need that extra bit of space on the screen. Update: I have blogged about a solution for this here.
  • A fair number of Sony software/utilities are preinstalled on the system. There is also a trial version of Microsoft Office and Windows Live OneCare, which I uninstalled and replaced with the home version of Avast instead.
  • Media for Windows Vista (or a recovery DVD) is not provided. The user is expected to burn their own recovery DVDs (3 regular DVDs or 2 double layers) through a Sony utility. These are copied from an EISA hidden partition (10.2GB) which can be deleted afterwards. To delete the partition you will need diskpart, as explained here.
  • The Canadian version came with a keyboard that has both English and French labels. The bi-lingual layout is slightly different than a regular US keyboard, so it takes a little while to get your mind used to having keys like this if you want touch type at full speed. Of course, if you are a French Canadian (or anyone else who types French), you’ll enjoy the bilingual nature of the keyboard. If you purchase the laptop from the States, you won’t encounter the dual language keyboard, of course.
  • Sony disables Intel VT support on most Vaios (I think it’s unbelievably stupid of them). This means that if you were to use a virtualization program like vmware, you’d obtain a 20/30% slower VM. This is not a huge deal for me (I run my VMs on a Quad-Core desktop) but it’s definitely something that has the potential to be annoying and which seems to be in place for no good reason (and, lastly, may or not be a deal breaker for you). I believe it can be enabled by patching a BIOS ROM dump, but it’s the kind of tinkering I’m not personally eager to do on the first day after my laptop purchase, especially since this point doesn’t really affect me. Should I develop an actual need for this, I will look into it and report my findings in this blog.

Sony Vaio FW285D/H vs MacBook Pro

Linux compatibility

On my laptop I have Vista and Ubuntu in dual boot. Ubuntu compatibility was very important to me because I intend to use Ubuntu as my main OS (particularly for development) and only use Vista when needed – or for entertainment purposes (e.g., playing Blue-Ray movies). The great news is that everything worked out of the box with Ubuntu 8.10 x64. And I mean everything that I could possibly test. Video, audio, wireless connection, bluetooth, hibernating, putting the laptop to sleep, you name it. Everything worked out of the box, which speaks volumes for both the compatibility of the Sony Vaio FW Series and the progress level of Ubuntu as a desktop operating system.

If you buy this laptop, and plan to dual boot Ubuntu, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by paritioning your hard drive during the Ubuntu installation, from a live CD. You could use the hidden partition that you deleted as a swap partition, reduce the size of the Windows boot partition, and with all the free space left over create a partition for Ubuntu or add an extra Windows partition and an Ubuntu one. For example, I have a 60GB Windows Vista partition, a 190GB “media” NTFS partition which is accessed by both Windows and Linux, and then about 45GB allocated for Ubuntu. The first partition on the disk, which replaces the unallocated space created by deleting the EISA hidden partition, is a swap partition. Yes, with 4GB of RAM, I didn’t need such a big swap partition, but I had the free space all in one place and decided to go for it.

A word of caution for dual booters who are planning on having the Windows Vista partition as their second partition. You need to edit your menu.lst to change the Vista section from root (hd0, 0) to root (hd0, 1). This correctly indicates where to find Vista when you select Windows from GRUB at boot time. If you don’t go through this step, you may face an Error 12: Invalid Disk Requested or similar messages.

Conclusion

The final verdict is more than positive. This is a very solid laptop with amazing features, for a reasonable price. Unless your budget is significantly larger than mine or your requirements wildly different, I think that the Sony Vaio FW Series won’t leave you disappointed. In particular, if you are looking for a development and entertainment laptop that will work with Ubuntu Linux, without any hassle, then this could be the answer for you, provided that the lack of virtualization is not a major issue (or you are willing to figure out how to enable it).

If you own this computer or end up buying it as well, definitely feel free to share your thoughts on it in the comment section.


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92 Responses to “Sony Vaio FW Series: A Developer’s Review”

  1. srboisvert says:

    Nice. One ergonomic feature I notice it is missing is something I love about my old and nearly dead HP Pavilion. Port labels on top where they can be seen while using the computer. It’s a really small thing but it makes a big usability difference to not have to either move my head or the laptop in order to find exactly where a port is.

    I am guessing it an aesthetics decision about having a minimalist keyboard surface that makes laptop manufactures leave this out but I won’t buy a laptop that doesn’t have port labels visible to me while i am typing.

  2. Jay says:

    We just got the same machine but without the capabilities for writing Blue-Ray discs and I agree completely with what you have said above. The model we got is the FW373J and I chose it for the faster/larger HD and better processor. The screen is beautiful but I cannot understand why they (ATI/Sony) would supply a machine like this with only one resolution option that utilizes the full display. For example, why didn’t they provide a 1600×900 option as well? Is it foolish to hope that they might provide an updated driver to address this issue?

  3. FWIW Jay, on Linux I can select several resolutions, including 1360×768 which has a 16:9 aspect ratio. I’ll look into a possible solution for Windows.

  4. josh says:

    interesting, but I’m curious why you went with a pc based instead of a macbook laptop? I just got the new macbook (well, 3 months ago) and love it. It’s my first mac.

  5. Josh, I wanted a large screen. 13.3″ is too small for me.

  6. josh says:

    Antonio, and the mb pro wasn’t an option? I got that one because I knew I needed the higher specs. Also, figured I could plug in a monitor if 15″ widescreen isn’t enough. sorta wish I waited for the 17″, but it saved me some money getting the 15″.

    • JunePhillipines says:

      Excuse me JOsh… but for your info… Your macbook don’t have a bluray player and a Full HD Screen… (and the fact that MAcbook also dont have HDMI… even the Pro editions)

  7. Josh, a MBP was out of my budget and didn’t have a blue-ray drive.

  8. Jay, I found a solution for Windows. I’ll post an update as soon as possible.

  9. [...] my recent Sony Vaio FW Series review I mentioned that one of the major drawbacks of an this excellent laptop was the inability to select [...]

  10. Valerio says:

    Hi,
    I think you wrote a very good review. Only one thing I would like to ask you: what about ubuntu compatibility with bluray and function keys?

  11. Valerio, the few function keys available don’t work, except for the mute/unmute one. This is not a big deal for me because I don’t use them anyway. The multimedia keys, on the other hand, appear to work. Playing BDs on Linux requires tinkering and may or may not break the law in your country. The procedure is explained here.

  12. Valerio says:

    Thanks you Antonio.
    At the moment I own a Sony fs215s and no function key works… one is better then none… :D and it let me hope an increasing of functionality it this way.
    About Blue Ray I would like to understand if you are able to burn a disc with ubuntu.

    P.S. your name is a typical italian name… do you have italian origins?

  13. I don’t have a blank BD at the moment, but I’ll try to get one asap.

    PS: Sono italianissimo, nato e cresciuto in Italia. :)

  14. Donna Barry says:

    Hiya Antonio

    Thanks for the review – I love the Sony FW, I bought mine (the FW21e – has Blu-ray drive but no write option) last Friday.

    The screen is fantastic but since I bought it my laptop has developed a niggle which I am really hoping isn’t a common problem across the range… It’s developed several squeaky keys which is incredibly irritating!!!!

    Was wondering if anyone else has come across this issue with their FW laptop – hopefully not as I really like this laptop. I can’t get a replacement until the weekend and I worry that if the keyboard issue is a problem across the board, then I need to go back to the drawing board.

    Would love to hear your comments.

    Thanks

    • Craig says:

      Hi Donna, I also have a Vaio FW21E and am supprised to hear you dont have a blue ray writer as mine does and also i have seen several of the FW range and have never experenced squeaky keys so am a bit unsure of this, it may be you have been unlucky and have one that could have been put together better maybe, without seeing the problem i would’nt like to say.
      Finally i am a computer technician and am happy to say the Vaio FW range is as good a buy as any and probally better than most others for the price so despite your concerns i would still say you have made a good choice and hopefully your problems will maybe sort themselves out.
      All the best anyway. Craig.

  15. Hi Donna, I assume you have a faulty model. My keyboard is fairly silent and there is no sign of any squeakiness. I hope you’ll get a good replacement.

  16. Donna Barry says:

    Thanks Antonio

    I’m really hoping so!!! I’m using the “faulty” one now with the TV turned up but I can still hear it – now think the “mice” in my keyboard are not only angry but multiplying!!!

    Thanks again for the quick reply here and on Twitter :)

  17. Donna Barry says:

    Hiya Antonio

    Me again – still struggling with my decision this side… wondered if you could do me a favour as someone “in the know”…

    Here’s my predicament – the squeaky keyboard on my FW (cannot get a replacement until this weekend) so got a fabulous bargain on the CS model… up on Sony site for £899 and I got a brand new sealed in box one with full guarantees etc for £709…

    Predicament is… spec seems pretty similar to me. Here’s the one for my FW model

    http://vaio.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProduct.action?product=VGN-FW21E&site=voe_en_GB_cons&category=VN+FW+Series&assetid=1218032875460

    and here is the one for the CS

    http://vaio.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProduct.action?product=VGN-CS11Z%2FR&site=voe_en_GB_cons&category=VN+CS+Series&assetid=1218032875598

    The screen, surround sound etc is all a huge plus for the FW but other than that… the CS looks a good option. Be brave when it comes to the colour… it’s spicy red (not really what I’d have chosen ordinarily but it is growing on me)…

    Just wondered if you could help me decipher the bit re the graphics card – I don’t understand the jargon…

    Look forward to your comments :)

    x

  18. Hi Donna,

    the two laptops you linked to are not that different in terms of performance, and the Spicy Red is truly fantastic, in my opinion.

    The major difference between the two models is that the FW is intended to be a “multimedia powerhouse”, whereas, while the CS is still oriented towards multimedia, it trades some features for the sake of portability (and price).

    The FW is 16.4″, the CS 14.1″; the FW you picked has a max resolution of 1600:900 (with a 16:9 aspect ratio), while the CS has a max resolution of 1280×800 (with a more common 16:10 aspect ratio). The
    font will be bigger, but there will be “less space” on the screen. Aside from that, the FW21E has a better video card, but unless you are a gamer or do a lot of photo processing, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you.

    Best of luck. :)

  19. Donna Barry says:

    Hi Antonio

    Thanks so much for all your help with this, I returned the faulty FW on Saturday and I’m testing out the spicy red CS11Z/R this weekend.

    I have to say it’s really growing on me but I do have one concern – the fan… it comes on all the time (every 10 seconds or so – seemingly regardless of what I’m doing, it does the same if I’m not using it) and although it’s not really noisy I’m worried that this is abnormal or that Sony may have cut corners a bit on this model with poor quality fan.

    All the time I had the FW I didn’t really notice the fan so not sure if it did the same but only quieter or… if the inner workings of that model just didn’t require so much fan work.

    Why would the fan need to come on so much and do you think I’m right to be concerned?

    Look forward to hearing from you :)

    D x

  20. It looks like several people encountered the same problem with the Vaio CS. I’d return it and stick with a higher-end model (e.g. FW).

    Best of luck. :)

  21. Donna Barry says:

    Thanks Antonio

    I keep yo-yoing between the two… really liked everything about the FW except the squeaky keys…

    I like the CS – the price is fab but the fan (which is possibly as annoying as the squeaky keys) and some delays in multi-tasking (don’t really understand that as it has the same spec as the FW) are putting me off…

    Oh decisions, decisions!

  22. A says:

    I have the Vaio FW235J. I was wondering if it was just my model that is faulty -makes an unnerving clicking sound, like an HDD going through too many cycles- or if it is related to the fan issue you seem to be discussing.

    Great review. I’m going to get ubuntu on it when I get home. I was hesitant to try it (it’s brand new :) )

  23. @A: Mine is silent. There shouldn’t be any clicking sounds. I would bring it back for a replacement if I were you.

  24. andres says:

    Antonio, I am in a difficult but good predicament. I was contemplating this machine, or the new dell studio 16, and my wife surprised me with a MacBook Pro 15 for our anniversary.
    I’ve struggled moving around this mac the last couple of days. I do rails and java development and i like the mac better because of that (iphone sdk too), but i am wondering if i will miss the freedom to get so many tools for the PC. Running vmware and using putty is no fun on the PC. Would you keep the macbook pro?

  25. andres, you are a lucky man. :) Assuming you don’t care about blue-ray and a slightly larger screen, the MacBook Pro is a superior machine in my opinion (and it’s also much more expensive, to be fair). You don’t need to give up the PC world. All you need to do is install BootCamp and dual boot Mac OS X with Windows (assuming you want Windows and not Linux, and you could even tri-boot). At startup, you’ll be able to pick which operating system do you want to work with. So if I were you, I would absolutely keep the MacBook Pro and be very thankful to my wife. :)

  26. Wan Rohafizan says:

    hi antonio…

    i am going to buy new laptop very soon, and i am torn between Sony Vaio FW and Toshiba Satellite M300. just curious since you have reviewed this laptop, i would love if you can answer my questions here:

    1. apart from graphics, how’s about the sound quality? is it comparable to toshiba that utilises harman/kardon speaker?

    2. I am a very heavy gamer, but my game tends to be something like football manager or management games… would you recommend it for gamers by the way?

    thanks in advance.

    • JunePhillipines says:

      Sony FW have a DOLBY SOUND ROOM technology which is very fantastic and crisp… It also have Vaio Dolby Settings to create a virtual 5.1 Speakers out of your Vaio

  27. Roger says:

    Hi Antonio

    After few happy years with my Toshiba M30 I decided to replace it with something different than a Toshiba A350 (in Australia), no offense to Toshiba’s as they are very good laptops i my opinion. Toshiba’s glossy design put me off…really..so I went for a Sony Vaio FW model (in Aussie land VGN-FW37GYH). The main reasons behind it were as you nicely stated in your report – I wanted a relatively fast and a quite machine. An entertainment laptop. I wanted to be able to watch hi-definition movies from the comfort of my bed at night. To do this a large, wide screen, high resolution, and a Blue-Ray reader were paramount.

    The Sony Vaio VGN-FW37GYH fitted nicely into my ‘requirements’ The price was quite high so my expectations were… Unfortunately the good looks are not as important…after all.

    The very first day I received the laptop I noticed something weird with the brightness regulation of the display. When I tried to change the brightness (set up to the maximum) to a lower degree using the keys (Fn – F5) a medium pitch noise can be heart coming from the monitor (?) and it is very noticeable in a quieter environment. Continuing lowering the degrees of brighteness would cause higher or less noise. The nosier setting was at 90% of brightness. I have contacted Sony Australia and the Supplier about this problem. I have no idea if this problem can be fixed. I have certainly installed all the newest drives available and there is no effect what so ever.

    There is another problem with this laptop: It has a high annoying pitch when the fan starts. After couple of minutes or so the noise almost disappears but still you can hear the high pitch sound going ‘up and down’ until it stops completely when the fan stops. The pitch started to bother me.. I have very little experience on this…I would appreciate some advise.

    Thank you

    Roger

  28. JD says:

    How about the battery life – the website claims 6 hours, is this true!!

    Thanks,
    Justin

    • JunePhillipines says:

      hahahaha… the battery is an average of 2.15 Hours… I think it will reach 6 hours if you:

      1. Turn off the connectivity such as wifi and bluetooth..

      2. Setting the power plan to Maximum Battery.

      3. Lowering your screen brightness to the lowest level.

      etc..

  29. Igor Levicki says:

    If the notebook has AMI Aptio BIOS, then I have a solution for you regarding VT enabling:

    Take a look at this article:
    http://levicki.net/articles/tips/2009/02/20/HOWTO_Enable_Intel_VT_on_Sony_VAIO_notebook_with_AMI_Aptio_EFI_BIOS.php

    The patch is available in my website Downloads section but remember — at your own risk.

  30. @JD: Not really. Set on “high performance” the battery lasts about 2.5 hours.

  31. oglop says:

    Ahhh, I just bought FW27 in February in Shanghai, China.it’s 9980 chinese Yuan , about 1800 CND, but with a lower res screen (1440×900), 2gram and 250g 5400rpm harddisk. T_T, at least we have the same cpu.

    Glad to hear that it works well under linux. I was considering converting to linux myself too. anyone tried the multimedia keys, are they working out of the box ?

  32. Don says:

    Can this laptop handle 2 hard drives?

  33. @Don: It isn’t able to. The AW series may though. :)

  34. Don says:

    Hi Antonio,

    Thanks for the quick response, I just purchased it yesterday and was thinking about future upgrades. I guess I will need to continue with my external USB drives for extra space.

  35. Hi Don,

    larger drives will become affordable in the future. You’ll probably be able to use a combination of both a larger internal drive and external ones.

  36. Krishna says:

    Hi Antonio,

    I’m going for a new laptop. Your thoughts on SONY VAIO VGN-FW35G pls.

    Regds..Krishna

  37. Erica says:

    I have been shopping for a laptop as my old desktop died. I am a keyboard fanatic – use alps mechanical switch keyboards and an old model m. You can imagine how hard it is for me to find a laptop keyboard. i have been using a Latitude d630 for work. Went shopping and the consumer laptops look slick but the keyboards stink. I like tactile feedback and some travel. Also like the mouse keys under spacebar. Tried the Sony FW keyboard and it was the best of the lot. I need laptop for work apps PPT, excel and consumer stuff like internet surfing and email. Want laptop I can cozy up in bed with on my raised knees. Do not want too much heat LOL. This is a costly gem and the mouse keys are not great but the new Dell Latitudes stink and Lenovo’s are far too costly. What do you think of the Sony FW for my needs. I am tired of shopping and need to decide this weekend. Thanks Erica

  38. Percy says:

    Hi Antonio

    I have been looking for a laptop and these two models came to my attention: The newest Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch – 2.66Ghz HD and the Sony Vaio VGN- FW37GY – 2.66Ghz (T9550). I honestly can’t make up my mind.

    I don’t like the fact that the Sony Vaio comes with a serial ATA 4200 rpm hard drive (500 GB capacity). I though it is silly from Sony to put a slow Hard Drive in this nice machine.

    I don’t like the fact that the MacBook Pro hasn’t got a Blu- ray drive/reader.

    I would appreciate your thoughts.

  39. @Erica: A Sony Vaio FW may be a good fit for you, but be aware of the weight. It’s not very heavy, but it’s still a 16.4″ laptop after all.

    @Percy: The two laptops are not in the same league. The MacBook Pro is way better and chances are that you won’t use Blue-ray as much as you think you will (and external Blue-Ray drives will be more affordable in the future). Seriously Percy, we are comparing a Jaguar with a very good Honda. If you have the money for it, go for the Jaguar. If I were you, I’d buy the MBP without even considering the Vaio.

  40. Percy says:

    Hi Antonio

    Thanks for the quick response. I am getting inclined to buy the Sony Vaio mainly because of budget limitation. However, the fact that the Sony Vaio hard drive speed is 4200 rpm concerns me a lot!. Please advise me if that is going to be much of a problem as far as speed of booting/running, etc. My main requirements are: 1. a quick laptop
    2. a silent laptop & 3. excellent LCD

  41. Percy, if money is an issue, have you considered the 15″ MacBook Pro? A 4200 rpm drive is going to slow down the whole system (but you could always buy a fast drive to replace the one that came with it).

  42. Percy says:

    Hi Antonio

    Yes, I have considered the 15” MacBookPro. Its price in AU is a little bit more than the Vaio FW37. So, it gets trickier for making a clear cut decision. I have asked Sony AU the reason why this top FW model comes with a 4200 rpm HD and if there is provision for an upgrade. I was told that this is because of battery longevity and overall efficiency of the laptop. There is no option available to upgrade the HD rpm’s
    I have noted that your Sony Vaio HD runs at 7200 rpm. Is it true that because it is a large HD (500GB) it tends to run quicker than a small(320GB) 4200 rpm HD ???

  43. Tim says:

    Hi Antonio – I have an FW290 with only 3 differences from yours: BD-ROM vs BD-R, 250GB@5400 vs 320GB@7200, and 3GB RAM vs 4GB. Although I occasionally wish for something lighter (as a grad student I have to lug it around with books/papers rather frequently), overall I’m extremely pleased with my choice. I do have some questions for you, though:

    * Ubuntu – I also dual boot, and the latest kernels have come with some great improvements (brightness function keys now work, for example); however, the battery life I get is horrible (~1.5 hours, at best). Have you had a similar experience?

    * Ubuntu – Which graphics driver do you use? Default is probably Radeon or RadeonHD, but I’ve also tried fglrx (ATI proprietary driver)…normal desktop works best with the first two, but fglrx is the only one that can use accelerated 3D.

    * Power port – I have a problem with my power port (the place where the power adapter actually plugs into the computer)…it is extremely loose. Have you experienced any issues with this?

    Thanks!

    Tim

    BTW – I’ve applied Igor Levicki’s excellent Intel VT patch – it worked great with no problems and was extremely easy (especially compared to some bios hacks I’ve used on other computers in years past). Having VT disabled would potentially have been a deal-breaker for me, but I didn’t know about it until after my 30-day return period had expired.

    It would be great if someone would release a completely unlocked bios for the FW series, but I’m not holding my breath.

  44. Jenny says:

    Hi Antonio,

    What a great exchange of information…your comments are just wonderful. I too have a Sony FW series…really love it…but tonight I was searching the web to see if anyone else was having trouble with the power port…and I see your last writer Tim, shares the same issue. Mine started loose, but is now broken…it looks like it was dropped…but to my knowledge, it has not. Brought it to the store tonight and they suggested I go online to see if this is a common complaint and maybe Sony would consider repairing it. So far, this is the only person I found complaining about it. Have you heard any? Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

  45. Akbar Ibrahim says:

    @Tim,

    How did you get your brightness function keys to work?

    What version for the kernel have you installed?

    Thanks,
    Akbar

  46. Thanks, Jenny. I personally don’t have a problem with the power port, but I can totally see how it’s probably one of the laptop’s weakest spots. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up having an issue in a couple of years. Search for ‘Sony DC Jack failure’ without quotes, and you’ll find several people who went as far as to try to replace it themselves. I think that Sony should repair it for you under warranty.

  47. Ram says:

    Hi Antonio,
    Excellent description and review. I am a fan of Sony and now planning to buy a new laptop. Now I have an old compaq presario. I am in a dilemma either to go for HP or Sony. HP offers more features for less price than Sony. In addition, the standard rule “current laptop configuration will be outdated in a year or two” applies for Sony also. I am looking CS series as i dont want to have screens more than 14.1″. I am worried about weight.
    My mind is under fight between the Sony and HP arguments in which Sony has upper hand. I need more support for Sony. Can you help me in this issue to get a new laptop that should strictly satisfy entertainment and performance. Also if possible provide links containing reviews of CS series.

    Thanks in advance,
    Ramanathan Sundaram

  48. SubiGirl says:

    Jenny, I’m surprised your store didn’t know of this issue. I noticed my power jack loose this past weekend, and called the store this morning. They immediately said, “It is a known issue. Sony is sending technicians out to replace them.” They had me call 1-800-4SONYPC, and the part should be delivered to the tech in my area by 4/22, and my laptop fixed by the end of the week. They were really nice when I called, and didn’t give me the run-around. If your laptop is still under warranty, I would definitely call and schedule the repair.

    The little issue with the power jack aside, I love this laptop! I have used many different brands of laptop in my time (work in IT, so I have a long history of laptops and their various issues), and this is by far my favorite laptop out of all. It is fast, the picture is awesome (have the full 1080p display). The internal speakers are kinda wimpy, but there really are not many opportunities where I use them. Most of the time, I’m using headphones or external speakers, and the sound quality from the sound card is great!

  49. Tim says:

    @Akbar: Originally I had to patch the kernel manually (found the procedure on http://vaioubuntu.wordpress.com/), but at some point his patch was added to the sony-laptop module. I’m running Ubuntu Jaunty, kernel 2.6.28-11.

    @SubiGirl: Is Sony sending the tech out for an on-site repair, or do you have to drop off/send your laptop to the tech? If it’s on-site, please confirm that this is being handled under the standard warranty, not some additional service plan.

    Also, did they say if they’ve fixed the root cause of the loose power jack, or are they just replacing them every time they break?

    Regarding the sound situation, I concur – internal speakers are weak (at best), but sound is great through headphones or external speakers.

    @Anyone: Has anyone tried loading MacOS X on their FW? I have a (legally purchased) retail copy of Leopard and I was looking at various OSX86 websites for advice and odds of success. At this point, it looks promising, but I’m curious if anyone reading this has direct experience…

  50. Toby says:

    Thanks for this excellent review. I bought the FW21E and overall am very happy with it. To add my own two cents worth…

    The USB ports are all on the right hand side so if, like me, you are left-handed, connecting a USB mouse is a bit cumbersome. Easy workaround is to use a wireless mouse (I got a Bluetooth mouse to avoid using up a USB slot).

    The trackpad mouse buttons are very noisy, annoyingly so in my opinion.

    If I had known support for virtualization would be disabled I would not have bought it. In fact it was Googling for a way around this problem that led me to this article.

  51. claire says:

    Hi There..
    I am planning to buy sony fw this month. but like some of you here, i am also torn between this and another brand which is the macbook. both ranges between 1400-1500 USD. can someone share me their suggestions? what i want from my computer is to record songs (live singing to the lptop) and postprocess it, fast internet, high definition movies and great graphics. thanks..looking forward to hearing from u guys..

  52. Scruffy says:

    FW21E.
    Broken Power socket – like it’s snapped off but still captive somehow!! As long as I’m mindful, i won’t place it anywhere it’ll be compromised (like the quilt on the bed)
    Paint worn off on left mouse button. Should really look into other pointing devices (retina thingy?! LOL).
    Bought in London December, but unfortunately emigrated to Brisbane – guess that stuffs my warranty… what do reckon my chances are?

    Notwithstanding, have two VM’s (SUSE and a clunky Leopard)… will look into that BIOS switch…

    Love this machine!!

  53. Zia says:

    I purchased the FW373 last week after thinking about for the last three months and wow! It is actually what I would call a portable computer for less than 2 thousand $. Like it much better than the current desktop and other laptops that I have used. I have been using personal computers since 1982 and still have trouble believing how well some of this new stuff works when it happens.

  54. Neil says:

    Hi ALl,

    I just purchased my FW36GJ. It’s been a week of maximum use to test if nothing is faulty. Within 10 days if something wrong I can ask for replacment. So far I dont have any other problem except for the low sound produced when windows media player is playing dvd or downloaded movies/video. I have checked all the settings and turn all the speaker at its highest. I have also enhance the sound in the dolby control center. It’s like listening to a nice dolby system but in a low volume. Worse is when I use headphone. Is there a way to changed this or shall i call this faulty machine and needs replacement? Your answer is seriously needed before my ten day test run out…3 more days left from today… :(

  55. Neil says:

    …i should have mentioned too that while i have problem with volume while playing dvd or downloaded movie/video, i have good loud enough sound when using other application like messenger video conference, youtube…so this makes me think that my machine is just fine..would it be WMP problem?

  56. Andy says:

    I’ve had my FW245 for about 6 months. I noticed the power port was loose within the first month of owning it. I wasn’t sure if that was the way it always was. A month or so later, the DC jack came out and wouldn’t allow the screen to close. It took a little work to get the jack back in place so it would close. Laptop was just recently shipped off to be fixed.

  57. KM says:

    I just wanted to know if upgrading Hard Drive or Memory is possible with this laptop (without disassembling the whole thing like I had to do with an older Sony VAIO).

    Thanks a lot.
    KM

  58. Patrick says:

    I bought an FW33G in Malaysia a few months ago, I agree with all the comments above on what a great machine this is however I have one probelem which I cannot seem to resolve. I keep losing WiFi, I have disabled the power management features in the wifi setup as suggested in the SONY support website but it doesn’t help. I have downloaded all the updated from both SONY and Microsoft so the system is current.
    Can anyone offer any help on the issue of dropping wifi?

  59. Jeff says:

    What a great write-up Antonio, thank you. I have been researching laptops for several days, and after many hours of comparisons, I had reached the decision to get the FW. Then, I found your review, and I realized that I might have to go back to the drawing board. As a software developer, the ability to run a virtual machine is a deal-breaker for me. I need to be able to run a Linux VM in VMWare as a part of my work. However, if we are talking about a 20-30% speed decrease, then this might be acceptable, as I would only be running a web server in my VM.

    However, some people on other forums seem to be saying that virtualization won’t work at all with this machine. Can you or anyone else on this thread confirm that VMWare would work, albeit slower, on the FW?

    I am very hesitant to try and modify the BIOS myself. I don’t want to accidentally blow $1000 right after buying the machine!

  60. Jeffrey says:

    the power port indeed is an issue look at this thread!

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=401059

  61. Denis Simard says:

    Hi Antonio,
    first i want to tell you that i have appreciate very much your review of the Sony VGN-FW285D,this is the reason why i bought this laptop.
    Few month ago i have modify my graphic drivers (Your 3rd approach) with DH Mobility Modder.NET on (Catalyst9-1_vista64_dd_ccc_wdm_enu_74234.exe).And every things working fines,lots of setting for desktop area.The only negative point is when i reboot my laptop its always return to(1920X1080)resolution unstead of the one i have set before(1360X768)rebooting.

    Yesterday i have download the last Catalyst
    drivers (9-7_vista64_win7_64_dd_ccc_wdm_enu)
    and modified them with the last version of DH Mobility Modder(V 1.20) then install it on my laptop and (CatalystControlCenter,Desktop Setting, HDMIto my 52 inch HD ACL TV etc…) working fines.
    The only smal problem still after rebooting my laptop the resolution return to (1920X1080) unstead of the one i have set before(1360X768)rebooting.

    This is not a big problem but if you have a way to resolve it ,i will appreciate it very much from you.

    Tanks Antonio
    Waitting your feedback
    Denis from Québec

  62. Carlos says:

    Thank you Antonio for the comments above.
    As a few months passed since you purchased & published your new laptop described above:

    Did you come with any nasty issues later? (i.e. comments from many people about the power jack input and Wi-Fi losses). I am asking because I just purchased a Vaio VGN-FW35G (with extended Warranty) and makes me wonder if I can expect the same. Otherwise, I would prefer to return this lovely machine. The Sony Technical Support in Australia is not much helpful either and it is a bit ambiguous in its warranty. Thank you again.

    Carlos
    Australia

  63. Alessandro says:

    Antonio,

    Thanks for the great review! I am an Ubuntu user too and I’m glad everything seems to be compatible. One question about the graphic card and 3D graphics: can Ubuntu take full advantage of it, as in Compiz Fusion for example? I was leaning towards the 1GB video card.

    Grazie mille,

    Alessandro

  64. Max says:

    If you are interested how to unlock the bios to enable VT on you Vaio I found this patch here. I’ve applied to my fw21m it and it works.

    http://levicki.net/articles/tips/2009/02/20/HOWTO_Enable_Intel_VT_on_Sony_VAIO_notebook_with_AMI_Aptio_EFI_BIOS.php

    max

  65. Catherine says:

    Hi Antonio

    Thanks for a very good review! I must admit, I am actually doubting the performance of my brand new Vaio FW46GJ that’s why I am scouring through the net for reviews when I stumble upon your site. Top reviews here is Australia don’t seem to mention any of the Vaio range let alone the FW and I’m starting to worry that I made the wrong decision.

    I was very happy with my ASUS M series laptop which I had for 6 years and it’s still going, however I needed to upgrade as some new applications are struggling to run in my old Asus. So I decided on an FW which I liked due to its high performance specs (I get very impatient with slow computers!) and high resolution. The model I have is slightly higher than yours with 1GB dedicated graphics memory and 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Processor – but for some reason I feel it is very slow – hence my huge disappointment! Do you know what may cause this? It seems that my old ASUS is even faster, or maybe I’m just a tad more impatient. I have the Vista Home Prem OS and looking forward to upgrading to Windows 7, but could Vista be the issue here?

    I would appreciate if you could share any performance issues you may have come across in your FW. Considering my machine is only 3 days old and I I haven’t loaded any extra software or data (waiting for Windows 7 to utilise my machine full), should I be worried that it takes more than a minute to move between screens and websites in my laptop. I thought first it was my internet connection, but my iPhone is working perfectly fine on the same network.

    Despite this, hearing that other people like yourself, are happy with this laptop, I see some hope and feel a little relief.

    Thanks,
    Catherine

  66. Hi Catherine,

    Vista tends to slow things down and so does pre-installed software that manufactures try to unleash on the user, but a minute to move from one program to another does not sound normal at all. Installing Window 7 is probably a good idea, but I would first try to understand if the machine you are using has some issues.

    Try to run GeekBench and see what score you get: http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/

    Cheers,
    Antonio

  67. Catherine says:

    Hi Antonio

    Thanks for the tip, however I can’t seem to run the geekbench program in Vista. Is there any other option?

    Catherine

  68. Sorry Catherine, it looks like Vista is not supported.

  69. Denis Simard says:

    Hi Antonio,
    first i want to tell you that i have appreciate very much your review of the Sony VGN-FW285D,this is the reason why i bought this laptop.
    Few month ago i have modify my graphic drivers (Your 3rd approach) with DH Mobility Modder.NET on (Catalyst9-1_vista64_dd_ccc_wdm_enu_74234.exe).And every things working fines,lots of setting for desktop area.The only negative point is when i reboot my laptop its always return to(1920X1080)resolution unstead of the one i have set before(1360X768)rebooting.

    Yesterday i have download the last Catalyst
    drivers (9-7_vista64_win7_64_dd_ccc_wdm_enu)
    and modified them with the last version of DH Mobility Modder(V 1.20) then install it on my laptop and (CatalystControlCenter,Desktop Setting, HDMIto my 52 inch HD ACL TV etc…) working fines.
    The only smal problem still after rebooting my laptop the resolution return to (1920X1080) unstead of the one i have set before(1360X768)rebooting.

    This is not a big problem but if you have a way to resolve it ,i will appreciate it very much from you.

    Tanks Antonio
    Waitting your feedback
    Denis from Québec

  70. colin says:

    Hi Antonio,

    Thanks for all the info you put in your review, very helpful. I decided to buy myself the newest refresh in the FW series the fw590. It hasn’t arrived yet, hopefully this week. I wanted to ask if you’ve had issues/problems with plugging in the laptop to get charged. it seems to me that the left side where you plug in the charger is a bit fragile. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again,

    C

  71. @Denis, you could try to have a startup script that sets the resolution for you. Not an elagant solution, but it’s a valid workaround nevertheless.

    @colin, it looks fragile, but I haven’t had any issues with it (or any other issue, for that matter).

  72. olegnep says:

    THIS LAPTOP IS A TRAP.

    It is great hardware , a beautiful screen , and lots of shiny plastic. It however is built using some of the most shoddy engineering I have seen to date.

    I am writing this comment on this very laptop (lack of blu ray drive is only difference) and after a year of very reasonable use it is completely falling apart.

    About three months into owning it I had to bolt a steel plate through the charger connector to keep it from falling off of the laptop and the power button on the opposite side had the same problem.

    The silver paint on the plastic shell started to peel off about 4 months in.

    About six months in the hard drive started to die without so much as a peep from S.M.A.R.T. and I almost lost a good amount of my data.

    About eight months in the laptop started to randomly freeze with flashing caps lock and num lock buttons and only respond to a hard reset.

    About ten months in the mouse button and touchpad started to go.

    Finally about a month ago at about 13 months the lcd developed a crack currently about 4 mm long. It is barely noticable now but I have a feeling it is only the beginning.

    It should also be noted that every single cd I ever burned on this laptop has been corrupt. BOO SONY!

    I read reviews about this laptop being flimsy but ignored them because of the great value. I now deeply regret this course of action.

    Do not buy a sony vaio fw series. If you do you will likely be subject to a very slow and depressing show of watching a very powerful and capable laptop killing itself.

  73. Ayusman says:

    Hi Antonio,
    thanks a lot for the review.
    This helped me make my decision. I ordered an SONY VAIO FW 590.
    Actually I was looking for a fellow developer’s review… your post was just that; could not ask for a better review.

    Thanks

  74. Well, although my VGN-FW51ZF model is a great laptop, Sony’s support is absolute shit. I bought nine of these, eight for immediate use and one to replace the eighth which went in for service out of the box. A loose housing over the power jack worried me, and since it was supposedly under warranty I sent it in immediately on taking it out of the box.

    Sony wants me to shell out 250 Euros to repair this, which is insane.

    The only thing I can say here is go elsewhere if support matters to you.

    T

  75. Iain says:

    Ya should have waited on the VT support :) theres a BIOS update on Sonys site for all the newer models that enables Virtualization support (or at least allows you to enable it in the BIOS Setup.)Hope your DC Inlet and Power Button aren’t loose..

  76. Ali Khan says:

    I just bought the VGN-FW590G laptop over Christmas which is the latest FW Series model. Its nice BUT when I started using Virtualbox it freaked me out when I started getting errors while creating a new 64bit guest. I started freaking out more when I started following the discussions on how Sony was not supporting VT in its BIOS and all that other crap. I did quite a bit of research and came across this blog site.
    Fortunately, sony’s esupport KB site has a lot of good resources that helped me overcome this problem.

    1) Followed this link:

    http://www.kb.sony.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=C1009197&sliceId=2&docTypeID=DT_KNOWLEDGEARTICLES_1_1&dialogID=67462738&stateId=1%200%2067464677

    to download an intel utility that showed me that my model supports virtualization.

    2) Followed this link

    http://www.kb.sony.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=C1009582&sliceId=1&docTypeID=DT_KNOWLEDGEARTICLES_1_1&dialogID=67462738&stateId=1%200%2067464677

    to enable VT in my BIOS settings in the startup.

    Whew, I just installed Windows Server 2008 R2 guest and its working!!! I would have been screwed if this laptop didn’t support virtualization.

  77. Lolita says:

    Need to decide whether to get Macbook Pro or Sony Z Series (or FW series). Will use mostly for autocad design. Since I am running a business, must buy the laptop before January 1st. Any comments?

  78. ricky says:

    hi,

    I have fw 33g,in this model,there is just not blue ray.I want to know that is this possible to replace this dvd drive with blue ray drive.please help me.

  79. ricky says:

    plese also define16.4 (41.6 cm) wide (Full HD: 1920 x 1080) TFT colour display (Clear Bright LCD [Rich Colour])and16.4 (41.6 cm) wide (WXGA++: 1600 x 900) TFT colour display (Clear Bright LCD Lite

  80. Shoaib Nawaz says:

    I bought FW230J/H and using Karmic as primary OS along with Vista home premium. It is a great choice but still few issues on Ubuntu 9.10

    (1) Front mic detected as Microphone2 but nonfunctional
    (2) Both card readers are nonfunctional as well
    (3) Difficulty to configure dual head display
    by VGA port

    However I can not test IEEE1394, Express Card & HDMI.
    Have anyone tested these intrefaces?

  81. Ameli says:

    I got my FW 590 CTO 7 days ago. After 5 days of having it I’ve noticed that fan would make loud noise, like when it really warms up, every 3 to 5 minutes.
    I’d contacted Sony and asked them about this fan noise. I was told that Sony can only replace a fan without actually checking if the the one in it is working properly.
    Also, if I’m still dissatisfied with my laptop after having that fan replaced, I can’t return it even though it would still be under 30 day money back guarantee.
    My laptop didn’t come with bluray although I was sure it would.
    SonyStyle doesn’t do exchanges of laptops, only 30 day returns.
    I want to know if anybody else has fan issues with this particular FW series laptop.
    Also, I did change power settings and it didn’t make any difference when it comes to this fan noise.
    Windows 7 doesn’t come with CPU Fan Control tab under Vaio Power Management tab.
    I’d appreciate any feedback.
    Thanks.

  82. Mark Shepherd says:

    Hey Antonio:

    Awesome review.

    Wish I had seen this while I was researching my new Sony VAIO FW590 CTO I got 2 days before New Year’s 2010! :)

    My laptop has a lot of the features that your unit has, large HD (with good RPMs), but no Blu-Ray.

    Though it is not a big issue for me, I’m surprised there is no fan-control software for these units as yet.

    With my older Dell Latitude laptops I could download the Diefer apps and be able to have all sorts of crazy fan control and management at my command – it’s kind of ridiculous that I can only likely get similar capabilities for my new Sony in Linux. :P

    As to the whole Virtualization/VT thing, all I have to say is:

    It is NOT a big deal to run Virtual Machines using these laptops.

    My laptop’s CPU chip doesn’t even SUPPORT VT and it runs all sorts of crazy OS configurations in Sun VirtualBox NO PROBLEM, and in some cases (like with Windows XP) runs it even BETTER THAN VMWARE does!

    As to the bilingual labeling on your keyboard, it’s a shame you didn’t spend the couple of extra bucks on a CTO.

    Mine was shipped (2 days early, and with free expedited shipping over the holidays!) from San Diego, USA, and the keys were labeled 100% all in English, which was perfectly fine by me.

    Also, for those of you Sony laptop fans thinking of shelling out $1500+ CDN on one of these beauties: consider strongly getting a 2ND YEAR EXTENDED WARRANTY on it – it typically only comes with ONE YEAR in many countries, like Canada, where I am at.

    Anyway, like you, a few key things led me to purchasing this laptop, notably:

    -Wanted decent multi-OS (Windows, Linux, etc) support out of the box
    -Wanted good graphics and multimedia playback. Not many laptops provide this – my CTO has a Radeon 45xx class 1GB discrete card.
    -Another deal breaker for me was a decent sized screen – not many units have this.
    -finally, getting a chiclet-style keyboard was a big issue for me.

    There are VERY FEW laptops that have this – Macs have it, HP Envy’s have it, and some ASUS netbooks and laptops have it, but they are few and far between, so this is icing on the cake – I have NO time for keyboard cleaning and maintenance, I just want to get a treated cloth, wipe, and go.

    Great comments on this thread! :)

  83. Geek says:

    Hi Antonio,
    i own this same model that you reviewed & it’s just great. I would like to know how to partition the drive for fresh install of windows 7? Also, sometimes the brightness function keys (Fn – F5) stop working. Like i see only 1 square when trying to either lower or increase the brightness using the combination keys. Any ideas on both?
    TIA

  84. Marty says:

    Hi, great blog very informative. brilliant in fact.
    Have been trying to find out how to increase my resolution options on my FW5, and at last you seem to know how! But the link to the patch software is now broken, can you advise where to get it and will this process still work with Win 7 64 bit, and will I have all the resolutions when cloning outputs.
    Thanks.

  85. Dan says:

    Thanks for the great review. I’ve also got an FW series Vaio and am also a developer. My 2 cents worth: In terms of emulation VirtualBox (free VirtualPC alternative) works brilliantly if you apply the BIOS update. On the plus side it’s a brilliant screen and very quick. On the negative side I find the keys a bit spongy (yeah maybe nit-picking but I’m a developer) – I agree about the USB ports all being on the right hand side, but probably only an issue if you’re tight on space. The build quality overall I find very average – The power port feels like it’s just a matter of time before it needs fixing, and the components (battery, HDD, DVD) rattle around and just don’t seem to ‘fit’. Overall though can’t complain, and off-topic Windows 7 is a huge improvement. When I first bought this I kind of wish I’d bought a MacBook Pro – but still a good laptop (until it breaks).

  86. Daniel says:

    Hey

    I love my sony Vaio FW, I purchased mine in October 2009, and since then its been in for repairs once because I was concerned about the delicate power socket casing.. they tightened it a bit but it still has a little play in it, I don’t think (touch wood) it will become a real issue.

    Overall, I am quite satisfied with this laptops performance, I beleive its worth the money.

  87. Andrea says:

    Hi,

    I bought a VGN-FW5 too, great spec. but it has an annoying ticking sound, from reading around I think it’s the hard drive. I sent it back to Sony twice to find out more but they did not even admit they could hear a sound, never mind giving a reason for it. Very disappointed with their service.

  88. Elizabeth says:

    Keys sticking on much-loved Sony Vaio FW15G, could I ask you sir how to find out the product number for the keyboard on these models so I can source a spare and replace the keyboard (if washing and compressed air do not work)? I like reading your reviews.

  89. Robert jones says:

    There is no such thing as a perfect laptop and sony ready installed software for back up never worked with vista for me anyway.My objective was like yourself to run opensource Openindiana which it does except for a few minor niggles.the outside design is not without its faults.the power cable entry breaks off in minor accidents and the silver trim cracked with minor drops.I would recommend windows 7 and 4 g of RAM.VBox seems to work fine for me.

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