Else you can read on throught the full review :-)
I was looking for a laptop to gift to a lady in the family and decided to order the Inspiron 640m because the requirements I perceived was for a medium sized laptop which is not too heavy and powerful enough to run XP , firefox and office.
Unfortunately, the most important parameter for this buy was great looks, and the 640m, even though quite elegant looking is not really a stunner.
To cut a long story short, I sold the Dell to Mohit (TE) (who BTW would be receiving it today ) and picked a Sony Vaio C22GH (White) as it definitley is one of the best looking machines in the market currently.
There's a nother model in the same series called C25GH which comes with a Go7400 card, but since this machine is (not at all) meant to be used for gaming, i decided to choose the GMA950 version since the 950 handles Aero admirably, and more importnantly, yields better battery life than the Go7400
- Screen: 13.3-inch screen WXGA (1280 x 800) with XBRITE-ECO (glossy finish)
- Color: Seashell White which is essentially glittery white on the top , and white on the inside
- Processor: Core 2 Duo T5500
- Hard Drive: 80 GB hard drive (SATA, 5400RPM)
- Memory: 1 GB RAM (PC4200, 533 MHz, DDR2 SDRAM, 2 x 512 MB)
- Optical Drive: multi-format/dual-layer DVD/CD burner
- Ports and Slots: Two USB 2.0, one FireWire 400 port, one ExpressCard 34, one S-Video, memory card reader adapter, headphone / line-out, microphone-in, modem, 10/100 Ethernet
- Wireless: Tri-mode Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g)
- Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (128 MB of shared RAM)
- Operating System: Windows Vista Home
- Dimensions: 9.28 inches, 12.98 inches, 1.47 inches (depth, width, thickness)
- Weight: 2.25 kgs
[b]Build quality, Design and looks[b]
For the design & looks, All I'll say is Sony definitley picks up the best designers in the business, and would rather let the pictures do the talking
The build quality is again pretty good.
The lid and screen bezel anre made of Mg-aloy and there is zero flex , while the lower body is made of rigid plastic, which also shows no flex anywhere.
The system doesn't feel noweher flimsy as the Sony Vaio SZ or most other thin & light machines on the market, and is almost equal to the Xps m1210 IN terms of feeling solidly built.
As you can see, the system is marginally bigger than the M1210 (which is quite a tiny machine BTW)
It is however a mucho slicker looking machine, and the pix really don't do it any justice.
Like most Sony LCD screens, the 13.3" X-Brite 1280X768 LCD is also a vibrant looking display with fairly vivid color reproduction.
There is minimal zero light bleed from the bottom and the contrast ratio is excellent.
The hoizontal viewing angles are again excellent, which unfortunately is not true for the vertical viewing angles.
The screen gets washed out from the top and gets too dark when viewed from below.
Even though the vertical viewing angles are still better than most other laptops on the market, it is still not an acceptable compromise on a premium priced machine.
Not much to complain.
The standard triband wireless card (3945 abg), bluetooth, firewire, RJ11/RJ45/ Memory card (Sony Pro/duo) reader
There's an additional express card based card reader that can be fitted into the expess card slot that supports other card formats
two speakers on the sides, with surprisingly good audio quality.
They keyboard is quite different from most other keybaords I have used. The keys have surprisingly short play, but the tactile response is quite good.
I like the KB, some may not though.
Though all I'll say is the difference between this KB and other laptop keyboards is almost as much as the difference between desktop keyboards and other laptop keyboards :P
Heat and Noise
CPU idles at 36 Cand the system remains cool to the touch at all times.
However, the right-centre lower side gets a little warm as that's where the heat sink is.
I haven't heard the fan come on as yet, which means either the system stays cool, or the fan is really sillent.
Any which way, I don't mind hyeah:
Super Pi 2 M- 1 min 23 seconds
HDTune Average Tfr rate: 31.9 MB/sec, burst rate 77MB/Sec, Access time of 18.5 ms
So as you can see, the system performance obviously wouldn't blow any charts, but for average daily use, it is more than sufficient by all means
The battery life is better than expected touching 4 hours at medium brightness with low load ( wireless browsing)
YET WHY I WOULD NEVER BUY A VAIO AGAIN!!
Now from all of the above, I guess you would be wondering why the title reads so, here is the reason why....
Like most other manufacturers (Dell, Fujitsu, Compaq, actually pretty much everyone but the erstwhile IBM) Sony also loads up their systems with a lot of bloatware in the form of free trials, silly proprietary software and what not....
Which is why the first thing I do when I get a new machine is do a clean format, create fresh partitions, install the OS, install the drivers, and any specific utilities (like hotkeys etc.) and it's all set.
Since this system was literally crawling out of the box, it decided to get on with th fresh install without any delays.
However, Sony does not ship any DVDs/CDs with their machines (that's right, not one single media!)
No sweat, the program menu showed a sony recovery tool which would allow me to burn my own recovery dvd's from the data stored on a hiddenm parition on the machine
20 mins, and armed with the recovery DVDs, i start the process. (8:00PM)
Before reading further, to give a quick background, that in the last 10 yrs or so, I must have done over 70-100 windows installs (desktop spring cleaning/new HDD/fresh install on laptops/for friends etc.) with and without chipset/driver CDs , have hunted for all sorts of new/old drivers...the whole 9 yards basically!
Anyway, 8:15 PM, i realize there are no customization options on the recovery DVDs, i.e. it'a an all or none restore...WTF, I say!!!
Not giving up, I decided to use my (already in use on my desktop) retail XP Home CD for the OS install, as I still prefer XP over Vista anyway (Talk of curbing piracy...LOL..I had to install an semi-illegit XP home despite having paid for the Vista OEM license)
9:00 PM, and we are set with XP Pro, or are we?
Since the drivers on the recovery DVD were Vista drivers, I decided to download the drivers from the Sony support site...
Here's when i get have the second WTF moment (of the many more to come )
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
This website contains upgrade drivers for Operating Systems, software patches and original drivers for selected* VAIO computer models.
* For original drivers not found in this website, they are available in the Recovery CD-ROM supplied with the VAIO computer^.
^ Recovery CD-ROM is not supplied with VAIO computer models launched after June 2005.
VAIO Photo 2007 1.0.00.13230 Update Program
Image Converter 3 3.0.02.13160 Update Program
SonicStage Upgrade Program 4.3.01.14050
SonicStage Mastering Studio Update Program 2.3.01.13241
Sony Video Shared Library 3.1.02.01170 Update Program (For Windows Vista)
VAIO Edit Components 6.2.00.13300 (For Windows XP and Windows Vista)
VAIO Media 6.0.01.13150 Update Program
VAIO Media Content Collection 6.0.01.13111 Update Program
VAIO Media Integrated Server 6.0.03.13180 Update Program
VAIO Media Integrated Server 6.0.02.13111 Update Program
VAIO Media Update Program 188.8.131.5280
VAIO Media Redistribution Update Program 184.108.40.20610
VAIO Update 3.0.00.13220 Update Program
VAIO Video & Photo Suite Update Program 1.1.00.14140
VAIO Video & Photo Suite(PAL-2ch) Update Program 1.1.00.14140
WinDVD 8.0.06.113 Update Program
1-16 of 16
That's right...look mama, no drivers to download
Not one to give up easily, I decided to hit the Sony USA support site where to my joy, I found the XP drivers for the Vaio C series finally...Or Did I?
After downloading some 100 MB of drivers ant utilities (1:00 AM)
I decided to start with the Intel chipset drivers first...
I get a Vaio splash logo, (why should a driver install use Vaio splash logos, i think to myself) anyway, so far so good, as I sit back and light up a smoke...
And I get my WTF moment #3 :O
"This install is not meant for your machine"
Turns out that Sony releases its drivers in the form of exe bundles (only) which run a machine ID check against the BIOS.
And even though the Vaio C22 (Asia Pacific model with Vista), Vaio C240 (N. America model with Vista) and Vaio C140 (IIRC) (N. AMerican model with XP ) are exactly the same hardware, the machine IDs obviously aren't the same, and Sony driver installer exe's will run a machine ID check first before starting the install.
Finally at 2:00 AM, I decided to use a Vista ISO off a torrent, performed a clean install, and left it as-is for the night.
Next day being Sunday, I called up the Microsoft Support center, quoted my Vista product key, obtained the activation code and entered it manually and activated Vista ( I know this install falls is a gray area in terms of whether or not it is a perfectly legit install, but if MS isn't complaining, why should I)
Then I hunted for drivers on the recovery DVDs, found some, but not all on a folder called \Vaio\Drivers on the 2nd recovery disk, and managed to remove alll ! marks on the device manager
Next I installed the Sony utilities dll and some of the utility software off the folder \Vaio\Applications
So this is where I stand...some of the functionality is still not working as expected...e.g.
- The Fn-f5/f6 screen brighness controls don't work
- The battery meter shows the % remaining only and does not show the time remaining (which apparently is due to the fact that Sony BIOSes apparently set a wrapper layer around the Windows API hook for the battery so that non Sony batteries will not work on VAIO machines...Until I get this driver, the battery will not report the charge rate/discharge rate as the battery feedback sensors cannot connect to the Windows API without this wrapper layer)
- Cannot switch Bluetoooth/Wireless on/off separately, as I need a utility called Wireless switching utility for this
Oh, and By the way I called up the Sony India support number, and even though the person who attended the call was surprisingly knowledgeable (he knew about the \Vaio\Applications and \Vaio\Drivers folders too which I frankly didn't expect from him) , it was as expected, in vain.
He recommended that I bookmark the driver download page and check back frequently
For me the question still remains
a) Why can't I install XP on a laptop that I have paid a premium price for...Had it been a Dell or a HP or a Compaq or hell, even Acer, this would not have been a problem at all...Giving an excuse like this system came with Vista and we cannot provide backward support is simply lame..Esp. because the exact same machine (C13) used to come preloaded with XP.
All Sony needs to do is remove that stupid machine ID check, and that's all it'll take
b) Why can't I get driver downloads even for Vista???
So despite Sony having built a nice, sweet, great looking and capable machine at a (by Sony standards) reasonable price, whic I really loved at first glance, and I know the person I have bought it for is also going to totally love it....I know that I am never ever going to buy a Vaio again, nor would recommend a Vaio to any friend! :@