Wednesday, May 15, 2013

sony vaio vpcse13fx/b -- Avoid

Sony Vaio VPCSE13FX/B

I own a Sony Vaio VPCSE13fx/b.  on paper, it is awesome.  it has a nice 1080p IPS display. it is also very light for a 15" notebook. this is why I purchased it to begin with.  in reality, it is awful.  the sad fact here is that much of what makes it awful would have been easy and cheap ($50?) to get right.  but sony's execution is so bad that I won't buy another sony notebook again.   instead, I will probably switch back to apple macbooks in the future.

  • the keyboard touch is mediocre, but livable.  a bigger problem is that the backlit keyboard always turns itself off after a few seconds.  no way to keep it on.
  • the trackpad is terrible.  inconsistent.  the buttons are really mediocre, too---sometimes they are needed, sometimes double clicking works.  the buttons are mushy.  two-finger scrolling is not easily enabled.  even after I figured out how to get it to work, using the device driver from the trackpad manufacturer, it barely works.
  • the bottom of the computer gets hot.  I mean really unpleasant hot.  this is despite the fan coming on pretty quickly and pretty loudly.
  • the speakers are pretty awful and not directed towards the listener.
EDIT: Linux Mint Olivia under the speed setting has the trackpad working.
EDIT: The computer is more bearable if you leave the bottom right (fan) a lot of extra space.  not perfect.  tough to hold then.  but livable.

beyond these killer problems is another biggie:  the computer feels slow---it shouldn't be, given that it has an i5.  my samsung chromebook ARM for $250 feels as fast.  what's going on here?  I have no idea.  is it windows 7?  is it background processes?  is it an inefficient kernel?  I don't know.  I do know that linux and mac OSX feel MUCH faster.   unfortunately, I cannot switch to linux, because this notebook cannot really run linux.  (I thought virtually everything works under linux these days, sometimes requiring just a little bit of tinkering and some obscure hardware not working---ok, bluray doesn't work because of HDCP copy protection.)  for some reason, whenever I boot this machine into ubuntu, e.g., with a USB stick, it goes from slow to close-to-infinitely slow.  the windows manager consumes 95% of the CPU.  this may have something to do with its weird switchable graphics arrangement.

EDIT: Linux Mint Olivia under the "Speed"Setting works.

a minor issue is that it is not fully windows 8 compatible.  I spent a few days getting it to work, but the webcam never fully worked.  windows 8 is not a good idea to begin with...what was I thinking?