Sony Vaio PCG-K23 Laptop Review
We did a ton of evaluation before we settled on the Sony Vaio PCG-K23 as my home laptop system. I have a main desktop system that I use all day long, running my home business. The laptop lives in the living room, and is primarily used in the evening when I'm hanging out with my boyfriend and keeping an eye on things. As much as I appreciate reviews by 'notebook review websites', these guys use a laptop for a few days, or maybe a week. I didn't feel comfortable writing my review of my Sony until I'd had it almost a year - to give a real feedback of how it survived during that time. Here you go!
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I maintain websites from my home, so using graphics well is a large part of what I do. So a big selection criteria was the screen clarity. The Sony Vaio had by far the crispest and clearest screen out - I was really thrilled with its clarity and crispness of letters to read. Even now, I am still really pleased with how easy the screen is to read, how crisp everything is. That being said, my biggest problems have also been with the screen. I had to actually send the entire unit back to Sony to have a big problem fixed - the screen would start "sparkling in green" after a while. The Sony claim was that an internal cable had gotten twisted and once they untwisted it, it was fine. That's nice - but as they only give you a 1 year warranty, now if that cable gets twisted again, I'm out of luck. I'm going to have to pay for them to untwist it again.
And even when it came back from repair, a circular area of white developed on the screen - right in the spot where the screen folds down over the memory stick area. I'm going to have to send the unit back in again to get that fixed. But again - with only a single year warranty, if it develops that again, I'm going to be out of luck. I do in fact use that memory stick fairly regularly since I have a Sony digital camera, and maybe the magnetic field of that memory stick area is warping the display area. All I know is that it'll really suck if the display for which I bought this laptop turns into a sea of sparkling green and white circles after the warranty expires.
The keyboard is also very important to me. I do a TON of typing for my websites. It hasn't even been a year yet - and remember that I only use this laptop during the evenings, and not even all evenings. Even so, I am almost completely missing the K and L letters, and many other letters are well worn off. Give it another year or so and I bet all of the main letters on the keyboard are completely worn off. To be fair, the "springiness" of the keys is still intact. So that at least is good. Still, for a machine meant for wear and tear, it isn't wearing well.
The general specs? The machine is running at 1280x800 display, and as I've said, I really like it in general. It's a 334 MHz machine, and runs at a good clip. I've played computer games on this as well as done normal web browsing and editing. It's a P4, 2.8 GHz machine with 448mb of RAM. You can do a lot of nit-picking about exactly how fast your machine is, but really, there are few applications out there where you really care. I actually do computer game testing for one of my websites, so I often am running games that really need a fast processor and fast graphics system to keep up with the thousands of armies marching across the screen. The Vaio does nicely with those. Most of the time, though, my applications involve working on the web or working on a text document. The system can certainly keep up with those tasks easily.
Now, for the things that drive me crazy. First, the machine is a laptop. That means I like to use it without the plug in - because when I'm hanging out, often the laptop is on ... my lap! Duh. But the way the plug is in the system, it gets bent by my legs. And without the plug in the system, the system literally drains in under an hour and a half. I'm doing a test right now and it died after 1 hour 15 minutes - just typing in text. That means that after a mere hour of work, the thing starts beeping and flashing. So I have to use it plugged in, meaning I am constantly bending the power plug.
Next, I use the laptop as a wireless machine, as I imagine most people probably would. But if you have the laptop in 'quiet' mode, the system speed is SUPER super slow. Even just browsing the web is painfully slow. If I put the laptop in "normal" mode, the fan is incredibly loud. I'm not just talking like you can hear the fan - which you can even in quiet mode. I'm talking like you have to turn up the TV to be able to hear anything over the fan. It is amazing that they have this kind of a problem in a current model Sony laptop.
Regarding wireless, I suppose having the wireless on/off switch right on front of the machine is some sort of a convenience when you're out in an airport and don't want people stealing your information. But I can't tell you HOW many times I have accidentially caused that switch to slide - and then spent quite a while troubleshooting a connectivity problem before realizing the switch was the issue. They should make that on-off switch MUCH less easy to accidentially turn off. Or on, I suppose.
On the good side, I do have a Sony digital camera and having that built-in memory stick reader is incredibly convenient. When we go off travelling to take pictures of wineries somewhere, I can just plunk the memory stick into the machine, drag the images off, and then off we go taking more photos. That is quite a great feature for me.
The mouse touch-screen is relatively easy to use. I do notice after a few hours that the pad of my finger actually gets sore from dragging it across that area. I could of course get an external mouse if I really wanted to, and find some way to rig up a mouse pad to use. But for now I just deal with the touch pad.
The weight on the system is rather heavy. I definitely notice this when comparing this laptop to the others we have in the house. We go through about a laptop a year each, and most other laptops we've used are much lighter than this one. You might think that if you just have it in the house it won't matter, but even grabbing it with one hand to move it from the table to my lap is sometimes a balancing act.
In general I like this laptop. The screen display really pleases me and I like the keyboard. But the issues with the fan, battery and speed are sort of like water torture, getting more and more annoying with each passing day. It may be a big decision point when I go for my next laptop, to trade off some of this screen pleasure for a better performing system. And again, given the white circle and flashing green issues, the screen may end up degrading enough that I don't like it better because of its flaws.
From a visitor:
I've had my machine since 2004 and almost every point you brought up about the machine I've found myself nodding and agreeing with. Even right now as I type on the keypad with 80% of the letters missing (K and L happen to be COMPLETELY gone) I sit and listen to the excruciatingly loud fan. It sounds like a small aircraft. Seriously. I've been researching ways to fix the problems I'm having with a crawling CPU speed (I type and there's a 3 or 4 word lag...) and found your article. If you still have the machine let me know, as I'm going to try some remedies to alleviate the major issues this computer has.
The display on mine is still fabulous, though! I even managed to put a huge gouge in the screen with an exacto (I work frequently with non-computer graphic design as well) and still have had no problems. The machine does frequently give me the "blue screen of death" but I believe it's due to the heat affecting the motherboard. I'm not particularly computer-savvy, but I do know more than the average internet-browser, so I'm going to try some things and see if they help at all.
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