David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

My New Sony VAIO Laptop

So after flirting with the idea of buying a MacBook Pro for months, I went with Windows.

But I went with Windows in style.

A few days ago, I purchased a brand new Sony VGN-FZ140E notebook computer from the local Circuit City. (Here’s the laptop homepage on Sony’s website.) Circuit City had a deal which was pretty hard to pass up. For the incurably geeky, here are the specs on my new computool:

  • Sony Vaio FZ-140E laptopIntel Core 2 Duo T7100 processor running at 1.8 GHz
  • 15.4-inch widescreen WXGA LCD with reflective coating
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
  • 200 GB hard drive (only runs at 4500 RPM, unfortunately)
  • 2 GB of memory
  • Built-in wireless connectivity to 802.11a/b/g, and even n
  • Built-in webcam and microphone
  • DVD-/+RW drive, which I think has that cool LightScribe labeling thing
  • Slots ‘n jacks ‘n ports up the wazoo
  • Only 5.75 pounds, including battery
  • Windows Vista Home Premium

So why no MacBook Pro? It’s simple: the display for the regular ol’ MacBook is too frickin’ small, and the base model for the MacBook Pro is $2,000 before sales tax and shipping. What did I pay for my Sony? A nice, light $1,200 including sales tax.

And I have to say that this Sony almost matches that Apple cool factor. It’s extremely thin and light, and has this graphite coating that just begs to be caressed. The display is absolutely gorgeous, the brightest and clearest I’ve ever seen. So far, the machine’s been as quiet as a church mouse, it doesn’t heat up unnecessarily during normal use, and the Vista Aero graphics are pretty snappy. I’m not quite used to the keyboard layout yet, but the action is phenomenal — the keys are almost flat, like the MacBook’s, and they don’t clatter loud enough to wake the neighbors.

All in all, this should be powerful enough to do what I intend to do on this laptop. Which is plunk my ass down in a series of Starbucks and write Geosynchron, the third book in the Jump 225 Trilogy. There will be the occasional bit of web contract work on here, but again, I mostly reserve that for my desktop.

I’d gotten used to all kinds of inconveniences with my 2003 vintage Toshiba notebook. The lid doesn’t open and close properly, hibernation doesn’t work, there’s no built-in WiFi, and the thing vents out the bottom, so if you stick it on a cushioned surface it overheats and shuts down. Almost any new laptop I buy would solve those problems, but the Sony VAIO solved problems I didn’t realize I had. Like the fact that all of the ports are exactly where I want them to be, and the power jack includes an L-shaped connector that makes the cord take up less space.

So what are the immediate downsides I see to this machine?

  • The trackpad is a bit smaller than usual, and it’s almost completely flush with the rest of the casing. Seriously, it’s only recessed about a millimeter. This means that half the time I have to slide my finger around for a second or two to actually find the trackpad. It doesn’t help that the trackpad is black with black buttons, so it’s almost completely camouflaged. In low-light situations, you can barely even tell it’s there.
  • The sound is a lot tinnier than I expected. I probably should have gone for the model with the fancy-schmancy Harman-Kardon speakers, but I suppose it’s not really that big of a deal. I listen to most of my music on the desktop anyway, and if I’m going to watch DVDs I’ll be using headphones.
  • No Bluetooth. Which isn’t a tragedy for me, considering that I don’t really have any Bluetooth gadgets. But I was really hoping to start Bluetoothing my office so I can get rid of some of those wires. Guess I can always go buy an expansion card.
  • The integrated video isn’t powerful enough to let me run advanced games, which probably won’t be too much of an issue considering I do the little gaming I do on the desktop PC.

Probably the most noticeable thing about the Sony OOBE (out-of-box-experience) was the massive amount of bloatware that came pre-installed. AOL was infecting everything, and there were poorly designed ads for all kinds of crappy products on the desktop and hidden in the Start menu. Not to mention pre-installed trial versions of everything from Office 2007 to QuickBooks to (Lord help me) Symantec Internet Security. Not only that, but get this — Sony actually included complete versions of Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 on the laptop, which you need to pay about 10 bucks to unlock. Because, you know, when I’m in the mood to watch Spidey, I prefer to watch him in gawdawful DRM’d Windows Media format.

Sony Vaio FZ-140E laptopAll this bloatware tells me that Sony isn’t making much money off these laptops anymore. No wonder IBM wanted out of the business. There’s relentless downward pressure on prices — hell, they’re making $100 laptops now. So it seems the only way the company can make a buck off a Sony VAIO is by selling ad space and cross-promoting other Sony products. (The Spider-Man film franchise is Sony’s, in case you hadn’t figured that out.)

The other strategy at work here is that Sony is trying to differentiate their laptops by including all kinds of proprietary software. Most laptops come with their own branded networking apps and backup utilities. My Sony VAIO also came with a Sony media player, Sony DVD creation utilities, Sony photo editing package, Sony audio recording software, Sony camera utilities, Sony desktop wallpaper, Sony power management, Sony driver update utility, Sony wireless networking, and Sony video conversion. And in case you missed the hint, there’s a Sony Memory Stick slot right in front of your face.

So let me just say this to the good product managers at Sony: you’re not Apple. You’re not even Microsoft. Sony, you make clunky programs with lousy user interfaces, and nobody in their right mind is going to buy your laptops just to get a copy of your lame-ass SonicStage media player. Your core competency is cutting-edge electronic equipment with fantastic design. But if you’re going to pretend to be a software company too, you need to hire people that know enough not to put dialog boxes in your update utility that say “Please install manually some patches.”

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  1. tommyspoon on July 2, 2007 at 10:05 am  Chain link

    Via con dios, David. I’ve heard nothing but horror stories about Vaios. Great looking machines that crap out after a year or so. Hope you fare far better!

  2. Matt Jarpe on July 2, 2007 at 11:00 am  Chain link

    You know you’re not fooling anyone when you bring your Sony Vaio to Starbucks, right?

    I’m contemplating a complete technology upgrade, three laptops, docking station, printer and wireless to tie them all together. The only thing that’s stopping me (besides a general lack of funds) is this crapplet or bloatware problem. How many hours did it take to scrub all that stuff off your new computer? Is there anyone who sells Windows based computers that doesn’t load them up with garbage? My mother in law just got a new desktop and I considered de-bloating it for her but the task just seemed daunting to me. I settled for getting rid of the included virus protection that was duking it out with the software her geek friend installed for her.

  3. Joyce Reynolds-Ward on July 2, 2007 at 11:00 am  Chain link

    Hope you enjoy it. I went for the MacBook Pro because I couldn’t endure the concept of Vista. So far I’ve been pretty happy with it, and I bought a fairly high end pro (but as a teacher I had the student/teacher discount, so I paid much less than $2k and got a Nano to boot–that went to the hubby, I want/now have a Shuffle (the better to ski with, y’know).

  4. David Louis Edelman on July 2, 2007 at 11:10 am  Chain link

    Actually, Tom, I have a horror story about a VAIO, from four years ago. When I bought my Toshiba, I’d originally gotten a VAIO and had to take it back because it kept spontaneously shutting down. But I had heard that Sony had gotten its act together. We’ll see.

    Matt: The crapware did indeed take a couple hours to clear off. But technically you don’t need to clear all of it off. There were only a few things that started automatically — everything else was just hiding away deep in the Start menu. I suppose you could also just do a clean re-install of Windows, and download whatever extra drivers you need from the Sony website.

  5. Josh on July 2, 2007 at 11:20 am  Chain link

    Does the wife get jealous with you caressing the new laptop’s graphite coating so much?

  6. David Louis Edelman on July 2, 2007 at 11:52 am  Chain link

    No, the wife’s fine, but I think the toaster is getting a little jealous.

  7. […] My New Sony VAIO Laptop […]

  8. Kate Elliott on July 3, 2007 at 12:02 am  Chain link

    Now you’re making me want to upgrade my lumbering little iBook to a MacBook Pro.

  9. lionel jones on July 13, 2007 at 7:04 am  Chain link

    I kinda agree with tommysoon about how the vio’s have a “1”+ year life before something happens. I purchased “3” sony laptops in 2005 the fj180p, the FE, and the AR180, the AR180 kept shutting down intermittingly.. but I sent it into service and they fixed it. The FE (which has now been replaced by the FZ) I have had no problems whatsoever. The AR has been fine. But suprizingly the FJ180 has been fine until a couple of weeks ago (it has been 1 1/2 years so far) has not had one problem.. the only issue now is the internal wireless issue intermittingly going out. I have been buying laptops approximately once a year for the last 15 years (so I have owned a lot of laptops) I have also own the macbook pros as well, I have had to send one back (3) times until they got it right. Laptops traditionally are all problematic at one point. They don’t have the durability factor of desktops. Sony now has a much cooler version of the FZ- The FZ180 and FZ190 that features BlueRay.. I think I will pick that model along with the new CR190

  10. David Louis Edelman on July 13, 2007 at 8:51 am  Chain link

    Thanks, Lionel. Guess we’ll see how it goes with this one… I have to say I was surprised that my Toshiba lasted 4 years, even surviving a spilled cup of coffee.

  11. tommyspoon on July 13, 2007 at 9:37 am  Chain link

    … even surviving a spilled cup of coffee …

    Really? Outstanding! I may queue up for one of those.

  12. David Louis Edelman on July 13, 2007 at 10:17 am  Chain link

    Well, I had to pay a chunk of change to get it fixed. But that was over 4 years ago, and it’s still tickin’. The Toshiba was a nice machine, no question about it.

  13. joel on July 13, 2007 at 1:01 pm  Chain link

    I bought my wife a Sony Vaio laptop less than 90 days ago, the Vaio has been nothing but problems (shutting down, memory problems, blue screen of death). She only uses Explorer, Word, and Outlook. I bought my son a MacBook Pro 60 days ago, no problems to date, start up is quick, no crashes, and he uses many different types of software.

  14. Diana on July 13, 2007 at 4:27 pm  Chain link

    Dave, I just read your info about all of the ‘stuff’ Sony loaded into your VGN-FZ140E. I almost cried. I, too, just purchased the FZ145EB/Core 2/ T7200/ 2048/ 200. It cost me $1,349.99 at Best Buy and I had no idea that it came with Norton Internet Security’s Spyware protection (I’m assuming it did only because you said that your’s came with it) nor did I know about the Windows Defender. I, also, didn’t know about the inclusion of Microsoft Works. I paid $119.99 for Microsoft’s Office home and Student, $29.99 for the Spy Sweeper, $39.99 for Trend Microsoft Antivirus plus all costs for the software installation from the ‘Geek Squad’. I was told by the sales person that absolutely NO programs came installed with the Vaio Vista. I also paid about $160.00 for them to come out to my home and setup the wireless laptop and the additional wireless router. My first one was a Linksys N but it took too long for it to boot up my computer so the Geek squad came back out and replaced it with the NETGEAR RangeMax Wireless MIMO Router. It was $50 less than the Linksys and works better. All in all with the wireless mouse and the additional My Book external hard drive, (wanted to be sure I could back up my stuff in the event the hard drive dies in the laptop.I had a nightmare when this happened to my desktop computer and nothing could be salvaged from my hard drive) that the total damage was about $2,600.00. Oh, that included the extended warranty of $399.99 and the Window’s Vista Tutorial CD. I could not even get a restore CD from Best Buy. I paid for it, then, I was told that it was not available and I had to order it from Sony. Of course, I have not done that, yet. I thought I was getting the best VAIO on the market but after reading some of those horror stories, I am not so sure. I read that your hard drive only runs a 4500 RPM. I was told that what we have is the fastest on the market. Question: Do you think it is wise to purchase an extended warranty on a computer regardless of laptop, wireless or desktop? I often hear people say that buying one is a waste of money. Also, do you think that the cost of the Additional Large Capacity Battery, VGP-BPL8, is worth the price? It’s close to $300.00. Anyone out there purchase one of these? If so, what did you think?
    My last desktop was from Circuit City and I purchased the extended warranty and it came in handy because we had a power surge and that destroyed my entire computer system. Of course, they replaced the mother board 3 times before it worked correctly.
    I have the new HP L7800 ALL IN ONE PRINTER and I didn’t even know that it was wireless compatible. I love it and it works great with the VAIO. NO MORE FRICKIN WIRES everywhere. I do have to thank the Geek squad for setting it up for me and installing it into my laptop. Anyway, this is my first laptop and I hope it does last more that a year as some folks have stated. I couldn’t afford to do this every year. The one thing I will pick up is the ‘cooler’ because I can feel the heat coming from the bottom of the laptop. Other than that, I don’t have any complaints, so far, except that Vista does not work well with Mozilla Firefox. I hate using Internet Explorer because it always seems to have a problem and needs to shut down. A real pain in the butt. I’ll stay posted for new info. I am a novice and I think I will learn much from you and the rest of the folks. Thanks.

  15. David Louis Edelman on July 13, 2007 at 5:16 pm  Chain link

    Diana: It sounds like the Best Buy sales folks did what they’re trained to do — get you to buy more stuff. It’s an open secret that not only do the computer manufacturers not make a lot off this stuff anymore, but the retailers don’t make anything either. They make their money by selling you the extras (especially the warranty).

    That being said, I don’t think you were necessarily ripped off. If you’re a novice, that extended warranty might come in handy. So might the backup hard drive (although if you have a DVD burner on your laptop, that might be just as effective and a lot cheaper). You might want to see if you can return some of the software and try out some of the preinstalled stuff instead (or download some free alternatives like OpenOffice). If you just bought the laptop, you might be able to at least get store credit for some of the software.

    As far as not getting the best on the market… nah, don’t worry about it. Another big open secret is that you’re not going to notice much difference between high-end and low-end machines unless you’re running the latest games or doing video editing. Anything on the shelves today will do basic word processing, e-mailing, web surfing, and music playing just fine. Besides which, even the most cutting-edge thing out there will be obsolete in another — wait, it’s already obsolete.

    A large capacity battery isn’t worth it if you plan to run the thing plugged in most of the time, like I do. If you’re going to be on the road, you might want to consider buying a spare normal-capacity battery instead and just keep that handy.

    Don’t bother ordering the restore DVD from Sony. There’s a utility on the laptop that allows you to create restore DVDs yourself (or at least, there’s a utility like that on mine). Go to Windows Help and click on “Backup & Recovery.”

  16. Diana on July 13, 2007 at 5:23 pm  Chain link

    I negelected to comment about the speaker system. It totally sucks and does sound very tinny unless ear phones are used. I was not aware of the Harman-Kardon speakers. I have already put so much $ into this system that I may as well have gotten a better speaker system, too. Although I have the Sony Camera Utilities, I can’t seem to get it to work with AIM IMs. I can open it up to see myself on my desktop but who wants to look at themselves while working or playing on the computer? I can’t figure it out. Do you have any suggestions? When I IM, I can request my buddy to talk or to use video and I can see & hear them and they can hear me but they can’t see me and my little green light, which is next to the camera eye, is not lit. It lights up when I view myself on the desk top but not during Instant Messaging even though I have clicked on the video option in the AIM window. I have viewed ‘help’ but there is nothing that refers to video during IMs. Pain, Pain, Pain in my ass!! Most times, I feel that I waste too much damn time trying to figure all of this shit out.

  17. David Louis Edelman on July 13, 2007 at 5:32 pm  Chain link

    Re the sound… Go to the Control Panel and find the Sound panel. Then on the “Playback” tab, click on “Speakers/Headphones” and select “Properties” on the bottom. Try activating some of the “Enhancements” and/or turn up the volume of speakers in the “Levels” tab. Lord knows why there are 14 million different places to control the volume in Windows.

    Can’t say I’ve even tried to use the camera yet for video chat, so I can’t help you there.

  18. Diana on July 13, 2007 at 5:37 pm  Chain link

    Dave, thanks for the info about the create restore DVDs and yes, I do have a DVD burner on my laptop. I also keep it plugged in. I purchased it towards the end of May and it was installed in my home June 11. It seems to be more trouble than what it is worth to go back and have them unistall the software and give me credit. I don’t even know if they would do that. I could not believe that the laptop didn’t even come with an instruction booklet to help you understand VISTA. I did get a chuckle about it being obsolete, already. :-) I still have my all of my desktop stuff and I am hoping my cousin will install a new hard drive, so, I can use both of them. The older one is the Windows XP system and I loved it. Actually, if I knew that all I needed was to install a new hard drive and upload the 8 recovery CDs I never would have put out all of the money that I did to purchase this one. I found out by accident, when he was here, and I was about to get rid of my tower. DUH!! I guess that is how Best Buy etc. make money off of people like me who are computer illiterate. If you can help me out with the IM video, I would appreciate it and thanks a bunch for all of your help. Have a great weekend.

  19. Harry on July 19, 2007 at 2:43 am  Chain link

    Hello,
    I just bought a Sony Vaio vgn fz140e as well, i have to return it already…upon starting the system up (activating windows, etc) I have 163/179 GB of free space on my hard drive….after installing the vista updates (22 of them) I had 160/179 GB of free space left…I then installed the Vaio updates (that I was directed towards via the tray icon)…after installing two 50 mB updates my computer began to lose free hard drive space very quickly pretty much every hour…after about 4 hours of the computer sitting without any activity (ie no web browsing, music, or anything else) my hard drive was down to 143/179 GB of free space….I contacted Sony and they had me run a full system scan (w/ Norton and Defender)…no problems found…After that I ran the Windows recovery Cd…only to have the same problem again…the tech. informed me that the problem could stem from the Vaio update that I did to my computer….I think I might have a cursed computer, I’m going to return it tomorrow…just out of curiousity what updates did you do on your computer and whats going on???????

  20. David Louis Edelman on July 19, 2007 at 8:18 am  Chain link

    Harry: Well, one thing I discovered pretty quickly is that Sony creates a hidden partition on your hard drive that sucks up between 15-20GB for the recovery data. You wonder how come Sony didn’t include recovery DVDs that let you reinstall all the included software? That’s where they are. I’ve read that once you create the Sony recovery DVDs, you can go in and wipe out that hidden disk if you want. That’ll save you 15-20GB.

    As for the rest… Windows automatically grabs 3-4GB for virtual memory, and it starts grabbing space right away for its own System Restore. The help file says System Restore can claim around 15% of the drive space for this alone. Vista also stores tons of hidden backups and “shadow copies” of files. And then there’s the Recycle Bin, which on my system maxes out at 11GB by default…

    With the exception of the hidden Sony partition, I think the issue is mostly Vista, not Sony. You’d probably find the same thing in any Vista laptop. Vista is designed to be very aggressive about using idle resources rather than just leaving them empty. If you look at your memory usage, for instance, you’ll see that Vista automatically gobbles up free memory to cache frequently used programs in.

    FYI, I only have somewhere around 2 GB of documents and personal files on my Sony, and I only have 130-something GB free space left. I’ve installed some software, true, but I’ve also uninstalled plenty of space hogging programs, like MS Office 2007 and the Spider-Man movies.

  21. Harry on July 19, 2007 at 1:03 pm  Chain link

    thank you, let me ask you, is there any end to this? When does Vista stop taking hard drive space? (ie, will it continue to take space even after I have set up/installed/uninstalled software)?

    Thanks!

  22. David Louis Edelman on July 19, 2007 at 2:58 pm  Chain link

    Honestly, I’m not sure. I do know that Vista comes with a beefed-up Disk Cleanup app (type “Disk Cleanup” in the Start menu) that lets you manually go in and clean up a bunch of the Windows junk. There’s even an option there that lets you clean up System Restore files and shadow copies.

    On my XP machines, I used to schedule the Disk Cleanup to automatically go in and wipe out some of this temporary junk on a weekly basis, but I haven’t bothered to do this with Vista yet.

    Personally? Unless you feel like you need all that space right now, I wouldn’t worry so much about it. Windows won’t gobble up your whole hard drive. Invest in a good automated disk defragmenter (like Diskeeper or PerfectDisk) and deal with the problem when it arises.

  23. Harry on July 20, 2007 at 12:08 am  Chain link

    Today I returned the laptop and got another fz140E…the same thing is happening, it went from 158 GB (after 22 vista updates) to 155 GB in a course of a few hours…(w/o touching computer or adding/removing programs/software) I guess this is normal, the chances of having two computers with identical problems is slim…the only thing that concerns me is that the Sony technicians I spoke with on the phone led me to believe this was a problem and NOT “typical” or normal for vista…I will try to read up on this on microsoft’s website…;

  24. David Louis Edelman on July 20, 2007 at 8:14 am  Chain link

    Honestly, I wouldn’t trust the Sony techs on the phone as far as I could throw them. Search Google for “Windows Vista eats hard drive space”, and you’ll find lots of posts from Vista users having the same issue.

  25. nishant on July 26, 2007 at 9:33 am  Chain link

    i have the FZ140 as well, and i also immediately have only about 154 gb free space. It is normal. Dumb, but normal

  26. […] new Sony laptop I’ve been bragging about came without a licensed version of Microsoft Word. Sony included a trial version of Office 2007 […]

  27. David Joseph on August 1, 2007 at 10:51 am  Chain link

    All these observations are helpful. Can anyone help me? The version of Vista on my VGN FZ140E is missing a whole bunch of print drivers. I know this because I’ve seen Vista on another notebook of mine (an HP) and tons of print drivers appear under the “add a printer” option. How can I replace the print driver library? I spoke to a Sony tech help person and they told me to try all kinds of stuff that had nothing to do with resolving this issue.

  28. Cibu Panicker on August 11, 2007 at 11:26 pm  Chain link

    Hey I am also a new owner of a Sony Vaio FZ140E.. Works perfectly except for the fact that there is all that useless bloatware. I really like the Vista version and want to keep it but don’t want to have all the extras that Sony has thrown in. I looked in the Add/Remove Programs window and it shows a bunch of programs but I have no idea how to remove things like AOL software suite. Does anyone have any idea which ones are alright to remove so that I can use all of the functions on the laptop that are supposed to be there? Feel like Sony has overdone it with the entire free trialware of stuff noone uses or wants…

  29. Cibu Panicker on August 12, 2007 at 1:35 pm  Chain link

    Oh and is it ok to remove the out of the box experience program in the add/remove programs?

  30. David Louis Edelman on August 12, 2007 at 1:53 pm  Chain link

    Cibu… take a look at my blog posting on Sony VAIO Bloatware. You should be able to remove most of that stuff from the “Programs and Features” in the Windows Control Panel. Definitely get rid of the out-of-box-experience.

  31. tommyspoon on August 15, 2007 at 11:35 am  Chain link

    Ok, it’s been over a month with your new electronic ride. How do you like it so far?

  32. David Louis Edelman on August 15, 2007 at 11:46 am  Chain link

    Tommy: So far, I really dig it. The sound is still really tinny and I still have the occasional flub with the trackpad. The only real issue I’ve had is with the WiFi. Sometimes it takes as long as 2-3 minutes to reconnect to the wireless after it’s been in Sleep mode. A few times it wouldn’t reconnect at all and I had to reboot. I had that problem on my old laptop too, though — I think it might just be a Windows thing. (Though my wife’s Dell doesn’t seem to have that issue… hmmm…)

    Oh, yeah, and a couple times the screen brightness controls stopped responding after it woke up from Sleep, and I had to either stick with the preset brightness or reboot.

  33. tommyspoon on August 15, 2007 at 1:38 pm  Chain link

    Cool. My Dell work laptop has had no wifi issues whatsoever; my personal Dell doorstop laptop dropped the signal all the freakin’ time.

    Maybe it’s not M$ that I have a beef with after all…

  34. morland on August 16, 2007 at 8:22 pm  Chain link

    Hi,

    Are you running Vista or XP on your FZ140E/B? Can you/someone please please pretty please help me get the drivers for XP for this Laptop?

    Thanks.

  35. David Louis Edelman on August 16, 2007 at 9:58 pm  Chain link

    Alas, morland, I am running Vista.

  36. Jo Megas on August 23, 2007 at 2:05 pm  Chain link

    This doesn’t really have a point, but I was searching for a crapplet remover on google because I just got my new Sony Viao (its a vgn-cr120e) and it came with a bunch of I guess you call it “bloatware”. And then your site came up. And I also just got this computer after switching from using a Toshiba from 2003 or maybe 2002. And I was considering a Macbook but this seemed much cheaper!
    So, interesting that someone else did almost the same thing!

  37. Carl on August 23, 2007 at 3:58 pm  Chain link

    I just got a new Sony Vaio VGN-FZ140E as replacement for an HP TX1219US. Wanted to keep the HP but there is a design problem where the wireless circuitry and sound circuitry have a mutual interference problem such that when the wireless in turned on your audio “skips” like an old vinyl record (Circuit City even took a new one out of the box and it did the same thing!) so, the Sony replace the HP. But, my question … you say that I can use the Sony Recovery Center to remove some of the bloatware. Hmmmm, where do I find that one? It’s not on any list on the computer and a search of files doesn’t surface it.

  38. David Louis Edelman on August 23, 2007 at 4:07 pm  Chain link

    Carl: I’m pretty sure I found the Sony Recovery Center through Windows Help. If you go to Start > Help and start poking through the Sony branded stuff, you’ll find a link to it somewhere.

  39. Carl on August 23, 2007 at 4:55 pm  Chain link

    Thanks … found it. And, stay away from the new 1000 series HP’s … that sound problem is a real irritant!!

  40. Vasu on August 30, 2007 at 7:51 am  Chain link

    David,

    I’m a new proud owner of FZ140E . Got it at Frys on sale for $999.00 !! :) So far very happy with the system. Of course, it was a pain to uninstall all the “Bloat-ware” that came with it. One question: After creating the recovery DVDs, how exactly can I “delete” the hidden partition ? Please let me know..

    Thank you.
    -VASU.

  41. David Louis Edelman on August 30, 2007 at 9:19 am  Chain link

    After creating the recovery DVDs, how exactly can I “delete” the hidden partition ?

    I don’t exactly know. I don’t think the hidden partition shows up in the Disk Management console; you might have to buy a commercial program like Partition Magic. I did find a related article about removing a ThinkPad hidden partition, it might be of some use.

  42. Matt Jarpe on September 5, 2007 at 8:22 am  Chain link

    Now I’ve been thrust into the laptop buying market against my will. My workhorse Dell laptop, that I bought used 7 years ago, finally gave up the ghost last night. I had been planning on replacing it for a while. It runs Word 97 just fine, and that’s all I need it to do, but I had a hard time getting my files off of it. It has no network card or WiFi, I can’t get any drivers for a memory stick for Windows 98, and the floppy drive works only sometimes.

    Well, it isn’t my problem any more. It couldn’t have died at a better time. I had just pulled the last piece of work off of it to send to some beta test readers, so I’ve lost nothing. Now I’m searching for a replacement so I re-read this post.

    I’m inclined to go with Apple, since I just want a machine that will word process and not annoy me with a lot of security BS. I think all the reasons you chose not to go with Apple don’t apply to me, but I’m a little worried about compatibility. We still have a desktop running XP and I want to be sure the two computers can play nice with each other when I install our wireless hub.

  43. David Louis Edelman on September 5, 2007 at 8:56 am  Chain link

    Matt: It’s hard to argue against Apple. If you’re willing to put in the extra money, I say go for it. Unless you happen to get one of the lemons, they’re pretty solid machines. If cost were no object — or if the regular MacBook came with a 15-inch screen — I’d probably have gotten one myself.

    And given Mac BootCamp and Parallels software, it doesn’t seem likely you’ll have many compatibility problems.

  44. Matt Jarpe on September 6, 2007 at 11:05 am  Chain link

    Oh, great, now that I’ve finally figured out how to compare apples and oranges you have to bring up apples and lemons. Sheesh!

  45. Jon on September 12, 2007 at 4:39 pm  Chain link

    I cannot get rid of AOL on my Sony FZ140. Went and uninstalled AOl Helper and AOl Toolbar in add/remove programs in the control panel but it did not have any other AOL programs in there (like you listed AOL Solftware Suite on you list). How do I get rid of AOl setup, Aol Launch, AIM 6.0, and any other files associated to it.

    Also which Sony programs do you recommend keeping?

  46. David Louis Edelman on September 12, 2007 at 8:07 pm  Chain link

    Jon: You may have to go poking through the hard drive to find the uninstall program. I seem to remember finding an uninstall program in an AOL directory somewhere. Look under c:\Program Files\AOL or c:\Program Files\AIM or things like that.

    As for what to keep… it’s up to you. I don’t know if you need to keep any of it. And you can always reinstall, assuming you’ve made your system recovery disks.

  47. Michel on September 23, 2007 at 10:26 pm  Chain link

    Hi David!

    Nice blog. I also got a vaio VGN-FZ140E and so far everything is working well (although I still complain a little bit about the fact that it’s not possible to downgrade to XP). I was wondering if you use skype. The funny thing with this machine is that when I want to use the built-in camera, it just doesn’t work. Has something like that happened to you?

    For the other people in this blog: my (short? long?) experience with laptops has taught me something: there is no perfect machine. I have friends who are openly mac fans and who also secretly complained many times about certain things related with their machines. Maybe it’s just a matter of luck! We are also so used to “straight” desktops where, if something fails, we just throw it away and buy a new one. Unfortunately we cannot do that with laptops (at least not without spending a “few” bucks).

    Good luck, and congrats on your blog!

  48. David Louis Edelman on September 23, 2007 at 11:51 pm  Chain link

    Michel: I have not tried Skype yet. Honestly, I’ve only played around with the camera very briefly. I would be quite disappointed if it’s not compatible…

    You’re right, no laptop is perfect. But I’d say after a couple of months, I’m still quite happy with this machine. I’ve had machines that I couldn’t say the same thing about.

  49. Michel on September 24, 2007 at 1:08 am  Chain link

    Hi again David,

    Apparently now the camera is working back again… I think there was some conflicts with some windows updates (don’t know exactly which ones, though :)). Most probably when I was uninstalling the useless programs I may have affected the camera drivers.

    Is nice to hear that you’re happy with your machine. So far I’m happy too.

  50. Michel on September 25, 2007 at 12:42 am  Chain link

    Ok David, here is the deal:

    There is an update called “Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista (KB935652)”. I strongly suggest you not to install it (unless you’re using Media Center which personally I dislike). This could potentially cause you problems with the built-in camera. For a strange reason, when I had that update installed, the camera just stopped working. I thought you’ll find this comment useful.

    Good luck! Michel

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