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Scott Kuhl Warning: I may have no idea what I am talking about!

This weekend I purchased a replacement laptop for my Gateway Tablet PC.  I reviewed a lot of different options but focused mostly on HP, Dell, Gateway, Sony, Samsung and even Apple.  First lets start with each of the lines of laptop I didn’t choose and why.

HP scored well on CNET reviews with the Pavilion dv3510nr, so I took a trip to Best Buy to check it out.  I wasn’t really impressed.  It was just another laptop.

Dell as always seems to have a build your own laptop for everyone.  The cost of adding a Blu-ray drive and the limited number of models that ship with them drove me away.

Gateway’s new MD series is nice but this is a dying brand.  I’m not sure they will still be here in a year.

Samsung’s new X360-34G is very nice, but the price is too high.

Apple’s designs are awesome but I’m not sure I will ever get use to the lack of the right click button.  I almost went with a MacBook Pro to give me the option of running OSX, but I properly would have stopped using it after a month.  Price was also too high.

The Sony Vaio line is my favorite PC laptop line as far as style goes.  But to be fair, they seem like MacBook clones.  The FW series was the closest to the specs I wanted.  This review is based specifically on the VGN-FW35iJ.

Sony Vaio VGN-FW351J

The Good

The Sony Vaio VGN-FW351IJ feels like a MacBook Pro clone.  It’s got good specs for the money.   $899 will get you 4GB of RAM, a Core 2 Duo processor, Blu-ray drive, a 16.4” widescreen and a 320GB hard drive.  It’s very light and portable for it’s size and well balanced.  Heat doesn’t dissipate into your legs when using it on your lap.  The HDMI output port makes this laptop a nice portable Blu-ray player.  Blu-Ray playback was smooth, the drive wasn’t noisy and the system didn’t spike with heat.   All bonuses when trying to watch a movie in bed.

The Bad

The area to the right of the touchpad warms up to a very noticeable level.  The VGA port is on the left, most people will not consider this a drawback, but I have gotten use to having my monitor on the right so I have more cables crossing my desk than before.

The Ugly

The USB ports are all on the right.  This makes it hard to use an external mouse for a right handed person while external components are attached.  The OS is also loaded with a lot of crapware like Microsoft Works, Quicken and a whole bunch of Vaio utilities that badly need reducing and combining.

Recommendation

Well, I’ve only been using it for a few days, but I’m happy with the purchase.  I would buy it again.  It’s a great laptop for the price.  I think I would need to purchase a MacBook Pro at 3 times the cost to get a better 17” laptop.

Posted on Monday, February 16, 2009 11:43 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop

# Laptop Series
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I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Sarah

http://laptopseries.net
Left by Sarah on Mar 19, 2009 10:34 PM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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Thank you for your review and opinion on this laptop. I also just bought a VGN-FW351J because of it's macbook'ish appearance. As you'd described above mine came with Vista preinstalled along with all that bundled Vaio software.

I've come to learn like hundreds of other people that I don't want to use Vista as an OS on this machine. I am curious if you've ever considered or tried downgrading your Vaio to windows XP and if you were successful. I've researched this online for a few days now, talked to Sony a few times - but still don't have a clear answer as to whether or not this can be done. Forums online describe people running into errors here & there while attempting this, but eventually making it work. Sony support tells me they haven't made drivers that support XP with this laptop "yet", but I doubt they will seeing that XP isn't supported anymore or soon won't be, ect.

I've successfully erased Vista from this model once already through Sony's Vaio utility after creating the recovery DVDs, but I couldn't install XP on it after that because the process would bluescreen about 2 mins in each time. I tried changing the SATA settings in the BIOS to ATA (this would allow OS changes, ect) but they were grey'd out. Seeing this wasn't going to work, I then used the recovery DVDs to reinstall Vista (this worked) to the day I bought it.

Sorry this was lengthy, but if you have any opinion on this being possible or not please post or let me know. Thanks for reading & best regards.
Left by Daniel on May 05, 2009 12:31 PM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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You could re-install a clean version of Vista to get rid of all the Vaio apps. There really is nothing wrong with it post SP1. It gets a bad rep from the early days.

Or you could install the release candidate of Windows 7. I did that over the weekend. The only problem I had was playing DVDs under Windows Media Player. But I think that was because I tried to download a Blu-ray patch from Sony. I downloaded a trial of PowerDVD to get Blu-Ray working, and that's going to cost me $90 in 30 days.

Windows 7 has a new virtual XP mode that will run applications under XP if you really need it. But I think you will be happy with Windows 7 without it.

Good luck.
Left by Scott Kuhl on May 05, 2009 10:15 PM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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Have you ever tried re-installing a clean version of Vista? If so are there any particular steps that I need to follow? I've been meaning to do a clean install to get rid of all the bloatwares and unnecessary apps that I don't need/use but am afraid of messing it up.
Left by Vyncent on Jun 03, 2009 11:23 AM

# Mr
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This Sony product is high ended, I am dreaming for a price slash.
Left by bluray player reviews on Jun 28, 2009 8:16 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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Still my recommendation would goes to Sony its really great in good price and configuraation as well........
http://www.electrocomputerwarehouse.com
Left by Cheap Computers on Jul 02, 2009 9:10 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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Interesting post. Definitely one I'll share with friends!
Left by payday loans in canada on Dec 02, 2009 6:05 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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its so good!
Left by online store on Dec 05, 2009 1:55 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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I like the look and layout of my Sony VAIO. I've had it for roughly 6 months. I was alway loyal to HP products, but went out on a limb and purchased the Sony and have regretted it ever since. This is the 3rd laptop for me and the only one that I've had continuous problems with staying connected to the internet.

I have 2 laptops and a desktop in my home and my Sony is the only one that constantly drops the internet connection during activity and it take several tries to get connected. I thought it was my wireless router dispite not having problems logging onto the internet on my other PC I bought a new router and still the same problem with my Sony.

This has been my worst experience with a laptop.
Left by Roz on Dec 05, 2009 11:35 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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its very much good..!!
Left by online store on Dec 09, 2009 6:09 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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my laptop too use to drop the internet connection however if you got to the sony download site there is a update driver for the wireless card , after this install i have never had a problem
Left by sean bates on Jan 13, 2010 10:32 PM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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Thought I'd chime in having got here. I just got a VGN-FW48E and it came pre-installed with Vista Home. Not sure what Scott above has in terms of performance expectations, but I can tell you performance was what I would call unacceptable for a new machine of this spec. Long boot time, sluggish performance and, to be frank, I think Vista simply looks awful anyway. I'm much happier with a plain XP install and the standard W2K theme since I do actually use my machine for work.

So I'm running XP-Pro on it, and it runs sweet as a nut. It's a pig to find all the drivers, but they do seem to be out there if you're willing to look hard enough.

I'm just missing drivers for the built in card reader, but I doubt I'll use it much so may just live with it not working - everything else runs just fine.
Left by Andy Fletcher on Jan 21, 2010 6:26 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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I am happy to read your blog and admit the webmaster has done a very good job by putting all the information content at one place. I'd like to recommend it with reference to my website http://www.pctechoutlet.com
Left by used computers on Jan 24, 2010 11:26 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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I have been using my Vaio F550 just for one week, but I feel very happy with it. No overheat problem ( others often face with this and hardly to solve it. thank so much for Sony design). Other word, it attracts me at the fist look because of it's beauty form.
Left by henry tram on Mar 01, 2010 5:34 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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I would say Sony Vaio is a very good choice. It's getting more and more expensive though. But if you have the resources, why not?
Left by Drain Services on May 10, 2010 1:06 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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i hate this laptop....$2900 for all the bells and whistles and have never been so paralyzed in internet surfing, or just general use. Bought it at best buy less than a year ago, and this a.m. noticed that the plug on the left side where you recharge is not only loose as it has been for months, but completely busted, hanging on by a wire! Here are some of the issues i've had. Unpredictable internet access, SLOW processing, short battery life, constantly needing recharge, and now it's just plain falling apart.
Left by dissatisfied customer on May 14, 2010 2:44 AM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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Thanks for sharing. I really think that it is important for all the consumers who are planning to invest their hard-earned cash on a laptop to do a research and purchase it from a trusted retailer. Thanks again!
Left by laptops on Oct 25, 2010 8:27 PM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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I have been eyeing this Sony laptop for ages. It seems like a really great lappy, but methinks it's a bit too pricey. Now if only I can get my eager hands on one of these babies. That will be the day.
Left by IT Solutions on Nov 03, 2010 5:35 PM

# re: Review of Sony Vaio FW Series Laptop
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I'm using an Acer 4755G not sure why I went for this particular brand especially when considering they do not have the best record for staying alive! Might be why this make did not make your cut.
Left by marquee hire on Dec 27, 2012 6:20 PM

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