"Best sub-$900 dollar laptop at Best Buy"4.5 starson by lazuline
Pros: Excellent Excellent Keyboard. CNET isn't wrong. As a touch typist and someone who's a longtime user of thinkpad laptop keyboards, I'm quite happy. I Just wish it had a trackpoint nub. It stays cool all day long, low powered i3 prob to thank for that.
Cons: One major gripe: The 500gb HDD is partitioned stupidly, with a hidden recovery sector that takes up like 20gb! What the heck Sony? And they didn't include a Win 7 install DVD so I'm going to have to pirate a OEM .iso to do a clean install. timewaster
Summary: I needed a laptop ASAP so I was forced to buying from Worst Buy. my budget was >900 so It boiled down to the samsung q430-11, this Vaio EA the hp dm4. Although the HP and Samsung had nice solid aluminum casing and the Samsung was better spec'd (i5 and dedicated nvidia 310m graphics) I still chose the Sony EA.
Why? Because the keyboard and trackpad on the HP and Samsung were just not as good. And lets not even get into the keyboards on the Dell, Toshiba, Asus, etc offerings at Best Buy in this price range: they were even worse. Forget about shiny cases and tech specs. If I'm paying this much for a computer, then I want one that won't make me want to throw it across the room because the keys are sticking, flexing, slipping and slowing down my typing with key presses that don't register or register unintentionally. As a person who has to type thousands of words everyday, a slow keyboard means lower productivity. That's why companies (caveat: non-creative), from their drones all the way up to the C level executives are given a blackberry and a thinkpad laptop, two devices with industry leading keyboards. (Notable exception is Google who switched from thinkpads to macbook pros for security reasons. Also, Macbook keyboards are pretty much clones of Sony's)
What Else? The color and font of the computer (white/grey) is really retro which brings back fond memories of the windows 3.1 - XP era, before the Japanization of technology styling, an age when computers were all ugly black, beige, or white bricks devoid of color. Don't get me wrong, this is one stylish computer, but I appreciate the uncomplicated design and the lack of faux chrome lining/accents that somehow equates to quality among most consumer laptops. That being said, B est Buy also stocks this lappy in a garish neon pink and blue for those so inclined to bring all the attention in Starbucks to themselves, perhaps leveraged to be even more successful than a glowing apple trademark.
There are tons of ports (esata) and a business-user friendly express card slot (features that were missing from the q430-11). Headphone and Mic jack are thankfully in the front as not to disturb the occasional use of a wireless mouse.
I would have preferred if their was no Blueray and Wireless Display, and in their place an i5 520m and a higher res screen like 1600 X 900. Well, it is a pre-built consumer model for Best Buy. To me these multimedia features are frivolous. First of all, Blueray is already defunct in an age or steaming HD media (i.e. fiberoptic from FIOS) and cheap NAND flash storage. Also, the monitor is only 1376 x 768(slightly more than 720p) which is to low to even appreciate the full 1080P(1920x1080) Blueray offers. The inclusion of wireless display is another headscratcher as well. Is it really that much work to attach an hdmi cable? I'm not willing to pay $99 for a box just to use this gimmick.
Overall the device feels premium with some nice effects like the power button pulsing when battery is low and onscreen display for volume and screen brightness. Battery life is decent, around 3-4 hours. Screen is nice and sharp but would have prefered a matte one over the somewhat glare attracting glossy screen (though its not as bad as a Macbook Pro, for comparison sake... and yes I've owned a macbook pro, I'm not just bashing Apple)
Performance is what you'd expect from an i3 laptop with integrated graphics. Fast enough for everything except heavy gaming and video editing (though Sony Vegas runs pretty well). Battery life is 4 hours using office, firefox, statistical software. During Video playback it's probably half that, so you'll need an outlet eventually. Speaking of which, the power brick is well-made, quite small, and has a much appreciated L shaped plug.
In summary, this is a great little laptop. Given more time, in this price range I probably would have opted for an i5 equipped thinkpad edge/L/T for the durability and features like a spill-proof keyboard (and of course the venerable trackpoint). Nonetheless, this is a great computer for the price and pound for pound the best sub-900 laptop at Best Buy for a PC power user. If you want more horsepower for games/video editing go with the arguably better looking Samsung q430-11 which would have been my first choice had the keyboard and trackpad had not been so disappointing. Just realize the build quality doesn't feel as solid as the Sony and you'll be losing a few ports along with blueray.