Sony Vaio VGN-AR11S
Without any doubt, the Sony Vaio VGN-AR11S is a piece of jewelry according form and organization. The occurrence impressed. Also the equipment, owing to Geforce Go 7600GT and Sonys Blu Ray drive assembly work convincingly.
Hint: This test sample is a a sample of pre-series. Deviations from shop models are possible.
With the design of the Vaio AR11S Sony succeeds clearly its competitors. On the one hand a simple, straight design shapes the layout of keyboard, additional keys and touchpad. Beautifully clearly and to be arranged, numerous functions are offered to the user. On the other hand Sony knows to set decent accents with a gently circulating chrome strip. So the Vaio AR11S looks exclusive.
Only plastics are used as material, but they represent an excellent haptics, and seem to be high-quality. In contrast to the matt hand area and keyboard, the display cover and the display verge is black covered with a high gloss clear lacquer. Thereby, finger marks and dirt traces are pre-programmed, but this is like with a metallic black shining sports car: Who loves its car will polish it!
Despite the fine appearance a few reproaches according workmanship remain: In the range of the hand area crunching noise occurs again and again. Unfortunately, this also means applying the wrists during tapping. Particularly, this happens with the right hand area, obviously because the interfaces here (PCCard, Expresscard, 2x USB 2,0, SDCard and memory stick reader) weaken its stability. So loud a crunching is forced.
At first, the apparently humble interface equipment surprises. A TV and a HDMI exit misses. Nonetheless, after short time a LAN and a modem connection can be found behind two flaps at the right side, as well as a VGA, the searched HDMI port, s-video in/out, a mini AV entrance and a Firewire 1394 port (400 Mbit/s) exit behind a separate flap.
In addition, at the right side of the case in front two USB 2.0, as well as a ExpressCard and a PCCard Slot are positioned.
At the back of the case a further USB 2.0 port, an AC adapter as well as an antenna connection (not with our test sample) is to be found beside generous openings for the fan battery.
On the left side in the back the audio connections (microphone, headphones and an optical exit) and in front of it the Blu-Ray drive and a Kensington lock can be found.
In the right half of the front a WLan switch, a reader for the memory stick of Sony and a SDCard reader as well as the infrared port are positioned. Likewise hidden under a flap at the bottom, a docking connection can be found.
Altogether it must be indicated, that the interfaces are scattered around the whole case. Also the accumulation of network and USB interfaces at the right chassis side could reduce the movement radius of the mouse somewhat.
Also regarding the tilting device of the display, the hinges, Sony could elaborate something special: The solid forward curved hinges are fastened to the back of the display, and so hardly can be seen from the front. Apart from their interesting arrangement, they grasp the display firmly despite the wobbling.
The Vaio VGN-AR11S is equipped with a decentralized simple catch hook, which must be locked and unlocked manually. The mechanism may be innovative, but it could not convince due to its rattly handling. In addition, the catch permits a clear wobbling of the display in closed condition.
In addition, it was noticeable, that the battery fits quite wobbly in the chassis. The current contact is not interrupted and the mobile computer always remains switched on in battery use, but this wobbly affair impairs somewhat the good impression of that Vaio.
The AR11S is equipped with a classical Sony keyboard. Gradated keys with square surface and rounded off corners are features of it. The keys are of reasonable size and also the layout appears logical and habitual.
The keyboard unit can be incised in the right half easily, but remains unspectacular. Also the tapping feeling can be described as "Sony-like". That means a comparatively small pressure resistance with a short but round pressure point and a hard pressure stop. During the handling mistakes and typing error occurred, most of then happened to me again and again by simultaneous tapping of two keys. Reason for that might be the completely flat surface of the keys apart from a necessary acclimatizing time.
The touchpad is quite far in front at the frontal edge of the base unit. Particularly well is, that it is not inserted deeply into the case, so that the end of the pad remains well perceptible, while the verge does not prevent the scrolling unpleasantly. The touchpad responds very well, and has a pleasant surface.
The touchpad keys are integrated directly into the front edge of the base unit and can not be served easily because of a slight disalignment downwards.
Left beside the keyboard there are some keys, which are completely evenly inserted in the case for the regulation of the volume. There is one more key as a convenient feature to open the drive assembly drawer of the Blu Ray Disc drive. Right above the keyboard there is another border with push-buttons for the controlling of a mediaplayer or TV mode.
Sometimes a disadvantage of the AR11S is, that there is no separate num block, although there is really enough space for it.
The impressive display with 1920x1200 pixel resolution, which is fully HD suited, seems to be clear, sharp and colortrue. This display is a reflecting panel, with a recognizable violet coating. The Display seems to be sufficiently bright.
In the test a good maximum brightness within the middle upper range of the display with 182.2 cd/m² was measured. Also the color reproduction is recognizably balanced to some extent in the diagram. The maximally possible contrast amounts to 260:1 during our measurement. Particularly the illuminating of the display is not outstandingly well. Due to a strong reduction of the brightness at the right side (120.1 cd/m²) this amounts to only 65.9%.
Concerning the reaction speed we can issue an average certification for notebooks to the Sony VGN-AR11S, because of an achieved level 6 in the Pixperan readability test.
The point of view stability of the display can be called very good within the horizontal range. Also within the vertical range the display makes good figure. A slight darkening and clarification occurs with a strong change of angles in the vertical range, but the legibility remains permanently.
Good results brought the mating of the T2500 Core Duo processor with 2.0 GHz and the NVidia Geforce Go 7600GT. Thereby, the GT version of the Geforce 7600 is characterised by an increase of the number of pixel pipelines from 8 to 12 and an increase the chip and memory clocking from 450/500 MHz to 500/600 MHz.
As a consequence of these measures the 7600GT leaves its class competitor X1600 of ATI clearly behind itself, and settles behind the colleagues 7800 and 7900GS of NVidia.
Therefore accordingly well are the benchmark results during application use.
With the current game "Call of Duty 2" a framerate between 35 and 50 fps was observed with settings "optimal game settings" (4xAA, Vsync NO, shadows yes) and a resolution of 1024x768. After an increase of the resolution to 1280x1024 this value was reduced to 25-30 fps.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||20865 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||11090 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||4918 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||2833 points|
|PCMark 04 Standard||5337 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||4262 points|
Originally, a frequently pulsating fan could be recognized, even in idle operation. A Bios update repaired this problem and reduced the pulsating noise substantially.
Despite the good performance of the AR11S, the notebook remains relatively quiet. In the office operation the fan remains completely switched off or runs only on smallest level and is hardly perceptible. From time to time a short winding up can take place. In operation under load the fan becomes audible, but the noise is not really disturbing, since it sounds like the wind outside the closed windows. The maximum was measured with 40.3 dB.
Somewhat unpleasantly is the Blu Ray drive assembly, which becomes apparently audible with 37.5 dB, when playing DVDs.
A heating up on an "operating temperature" of up to 40°C occurs rapidly after switching on the Vaio. Then no considerable temperature increases can be measured with longer high-performance-requirements. The top side remains with a pleasant and inconspicuous temperature particularly in the range of the hand area.
palmwrist: 33.4°C max: 38.6°C avg: 35.0°C
max: 42.9°C avg: 38.8°C hotspot: on the right side behind and below the fan
Comparatively good sound is created by the loudspeakers at the bottom of the display. These speakers can serve even with light basses. The maximum volume can be rated as sufficient.
Performance needs energy. Apparently, that applies particularly to the Geforce 7600GT. Under load the Sony Vaio VGN-AR11S reached an hour and 25min battery runtime. The display surely is responsible, too. The maximum running time lay in the test at somewhat more than 2 hours. The Akkubetrieb should be understood therefore rather as emergency solution.
The maximum runtime achieved a little bit more than 2 hourse in the review. Threfore the battery mode is rather an emergency solution.
BatteryEater Classic Test (load): 1h 25min
BatteryEater Readers Test (max. runtime): 2h 10 min
without load (Idle), min. brightness, without WLAN: 31.1 Watts
+ max. brightness: 42.9 Watts
+ WLAN: 43.7 Watts
full load (+WLAN, max brightness): max. 76.7 Watts
The Sony Vaio VGN-AR11S is quite successful. Owing to Geforce 7600GT this notebook also offers good performance for games. This is not a feature of most Sony notebooks, which are rather weakly equipped concerning graphics.
Particularly well is the design of the Vaio, which is really respectable. Straight lines instead of ornamental art nevertheless for clearness and a sleekly elegant lateral border.
Nonetheless there are minor faults of workmanship. A wobbly battery, crunching hand areas and a low rigidity against torsions are not necessary for a laptop of that price class.
The input devices, in particular the keyboard, turn out to be somewhat habituation needy for a Sony newbee, but surely are suited for demanding office applications, too.
The high resolution HD capable display in well-known Sony style can quite inspire. Image definition, color representation and stability with viewing angles are impressing. Nevertheless we could determine illumination weaknesses particularly on the right side of the display.
As already mentioned, the Sony Vaio VGN-AR11S is quite well equipped also regarding the available performance. Core Duo CPU and Geforce 7600GT guarantee fun in the multimedia sector.
Unfortunately, the maximum battery runtime unfortunately suffers somewhat from the sumptuous hardware equipment: the maximum battery runtime of the AR11S is scarcely between an hour and somewhat more than two hours.
A large plus of the AR11S is the good emission-mangagement. Both, the measurement of the temperature and the noise emissions by the fan are very positively.