Tuesday, February 23, 2010


After crushing my Sony VAIO SZ750N, and making it worse by trying to install the wrong replacement LCD screen, I broke down and bought a new laptop.

I got the VPCS111FM. I think it's a scaled down version of the new Z Series, which is apparently the replacement for the SZ Series.

I checked out the new Z Series laptops They're tempting. Thin and light with clear, bright screens and lots of features. They also range from $1,900 to more than $4,000.

The VPCS111FM is a Best Buy-only model that is a lot like the Z Series, but without the dual graphics cards and some other features. It's also just over $1,000. There are some similar thin and light laptops made by ASUS, Toshiba and HP, but they're all missing some features I wanted, like a built-in DVD drive, Bluetooth or a big hard drive. The cost of upgrading them, when it was possible, put them in about the same range, so I went with the Sony.

I hesitated a bit, mostly because Sony always uses some proprietary hardware and doesn't seem to cooperate much with Linux developers. It took we a while to get everything on the SZ750N working with Ubuntu, and then some fiddling to keep it working as I upgraded Ubuntu versions.

People were already making progress on the VPCS111FM, so I figured everything would work out.

I haven't installed Ubuntu yet, so I've only used it with the pre-installed Windows 7. It seems odd that Microsoft has moved past Vista and onto Windows 7 and computer companies are still offering a free downgrade to Windows XP. That's got to be driving somebody in Redmond crazy.

Windows 7, by the way, seems OK. Nothing to tempt we away from Linux, but seems to work fine. My only real complaint is that using the trackpad is awkward. I get used to Linux and whenever I use a computer with Windows I find it irritating that I can't easily switch from moving the cursor to moving the window just my moving my finger to the right side of the pad.

On to the hardware.

The keyboard is nice. Not great when compared to some of the others I tried, like the ones on HP and ASUS laptops, but a lot better than the one on the SZ. That one just felt flimsy and cheap.

It was also loud, which was a problem when I took notes in meetings. Got some dirty looks, and even a comment once, when I forgot to type softly.

This keyboard is the new "chiclet" type. The keys poke through holes in a metal frame. The frame separates them so there's a space between each key, rather than just a slope. I think it's easier to type. I'm less likely to hit two keys at once.

The case is metal. It's a silvery color and shiny. Personally I preferred the flat black on the SZ because it was less conspicuous, but this one is fine really.

The trackpad is metal as are the two button just below it. It feels fine and works well.

The case has substantial rubber bumpers on both the base and the screen bezel. They stick out a good amount and seem to be stuck on well.

That's not something I would ordinarily notice, but on the SZ they were so small that the keys made an impression on the LCD when you closed the lid. The impression became more pronounced over time, especially after the bumpers started falling off.

The heat exhaust is on the left side of the laptop, rather than on the bottom. That's a nice feature. It keeps the heat off your lap, if you use the computer the way the name suggests you would. It also lets the heat escape even if you set the laptop on a soft surface.

(Specs after the jump)
Here are some specs:

Intel® Core™ i5
Cache Memory 3MB on die Level 2

Memory (RAM)
PC3-8500, CL=7, Unbuffered, NON-ECC, 1066mhz 204 pin.
Expandable To 8GB

Widescreen (1366 x 768)
13.3" (Diagonally)
LED backlit
Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator HD
Video Memory 2263MB total available

  • Intel® High Definition Audio
  • Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset High Definition Audio (rev 05)
  • Subsystem: Sony Corporation Device 9069

Hard Drive
  • SATA
  • 5400 rpm
  • 500GB

Optical Drive
Double-layer DVD±RW/CD-RW


  • Built-in 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T Gigabit Fast Ethernet LAN (with RJ-45 interface)
  • Atheros Communications Device 1063 (rev c0)
  • Subsystem: Sony Corporation Device 9069
Wireless Networking
  • Built-in Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6200 Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n - Intel Corporation WiFi Link 6000 Series (rev 35)
  • Bluetooth A2DP Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Ports and Slots
  • Slot for Memory Stick PRO & Duo
  • Slot for Secure Digital card - Ricoh Co Ltd Device e822 - SD CPRM Memory Card Reader/Writer
  • 3 USB 2.0 Ports - Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset USB2 Enhanced Host Controller (rev 05)
  • 1 IEEE 1394 FireWire Port - Ricoh Co Ltd Device e832
  • HDMI
  • PCMCIA ExpressCard/34

  • Height 1.2"
  • Width 13"
  • Depth 9"
  • Weight 4.4 lbs.

Pointing Device
  • Electrostatic touchpad
  • Synaptics® PS/2 Port TouchPad

  • Sony Motion-Eye, which apparently tracks your face as you move around
  • 05ca:18b7 Ricoh Co., Ltd (?)
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1 comment:

b said...

hi i have a "Sony VAIO VPCS111FM"

i want to downgrade to xp

can u help me please?

thanx alot