BMW Motorrad Concept e


BMW C Evolution
The C Evolution is the third generation of an electric scooter being developed by BMW.
(Credit: BMW)
In the last decade, BMW's motorcycle division dabbled in scooters as a green solution for crowded urban centers, producing the C1 for a few years. Now BMW is showing off the final fruits of a new project, an electric scooter designed to achieve the performance specifications of a gasoline-fueled scooter.
The C Evolution is the third generation of an electric scooter that BMW has previously shown in concept form. This two-wheeler uses an electric motor and an 8 kilowatt battery pack to drive the rear wheel. BMW says that it can go 62 miles on a full charge. Although a large battery back, it does not use liquid cooling. Instead, its casing channels air through the individual cells. As the batteries produce more heat under load, the C Evolution should be going faster as the batteries hit higher temperatures, improving the air flow.
BMW C Evolution
The C Evolution plugs into a standard car charging station.
(Credit: BMW)
BMW also designed the C Evolution for a top speed of 75 mph. Anti-lock brakes are one technology borrowed from BMW's extensive experience building motorcycles. However, the C Evolution also uses brake regeneration, which helps account for its range. A single swing arm supports the rear drive wheel, which is turned by a shaft. LED lights decrease the load on the battery, and the rider gets speed and battery status from an LCD.
Interestingly, BMW incorporates a J1772 charging port, the same as used in new electric cars. The C Evolution can be charged to full in three hours.
BMW is using the C Evolution as a test prototype in real world situations. The company says it plans to offer a production version in the near future.

Top 10 Beautiful Palaces Around the World

Top 10 Beautiful Palaces Around the World

The word PALACE is derived from the Latin name Palatium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. In many parts of Europe, the term is also applied to relatively large urban buildings built as the private mansions of the aristocracy. Here is a collection of top 10 palaces around the world. 

10. Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
 The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia was the official residence of the Russian Tsars. It was designed by many architects, most notably Bartolomeo Rastrelli, in what came to be known as the Elizabethan Baroque style; the green-and-white palace has the shape of an elongated rectangle. The palace has been calculated to contain 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases. Its principal façade is 250 m long and 100 ft high. 09 more after the break...

09. Summer Palace, Beijing, China
  The Summer Palace is the largest and best-preserved imperial garden in China. Its Chinese name, YiHeYuan, translates as ‘Garden of Nurtured Harmony’ or ‘Garden for Maintaining Health and Harmony’. As its name implies, the Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China’s imperial rulers – as a retreat from the main imperial palace now known as the Palace Museum (or ‘Forbidden City’) – a pleasure ground in the countryside, yet near to the city.

08. Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
 Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence in Vienna, Austria. Schönbrunn Palace with its surrounding buildings and the huge park is one of the most significant cultural monuments in Austria. The castle was build to rival French Versailles in Baroque beauty and importance.

07. Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet
The Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the center of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700m.

06. Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan
  Tokyo Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in Chiyoda, Tokyo close to Tokyo Station and contains various buildings such as the main palace and the private residences of the imperial family. The total area including the gardens is 7.41 square kilometers.

05. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India
Udaipur, the jewel of Rajasthan, has a regal feeling even in the streets and marketplace, a sense of pride surrounding every shop and square. Lake Palace (formerly known as Jag Niwas) is a luxury hotel, of 83 rooms and suites featuring white marble walls, located on a natural foundation of 4 acres rock, which sits on a private island in the middle of Lake Pichola. The hotel operates a boat which transports guests to the hotel from a jetty at the City Palace.

04. Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
  The Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, located at the European side of the Bosporus, served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire. The palace is composed of three parts; the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn (the quarters reserved for the men), Muayede Salonu (the ceremonial halls) and the Harem-i Hümâyûn (the apartments of the family of the Sultan). The palace has an area of 45,000 m2, and contains 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths and 68 toilets.

03. Chateau de Versailles, Versailles, France
The Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the Kings of France. It was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624, by Louis XIII. It was expanded by Louis XIV beginning in 1669. He used it as a little lodge as a secret refuge for his amorous trysts with the lovely Louise de la Valliere and built a fairy tale park around it.  Jules Hardouin Mansart, the king’s principal architect, drew the plans to enlarge what was turning more and more into a palace from A Thousand and One Nights.

02. Buckingham Palace, London
 Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a rallying point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis.

01. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Blenheim Palace is home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Set in 2100 acres of beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, the magnificent Palace is surrounded by sweeping lawns, award-winning formal gardens and the great Lake, offering a unforgettable day out for all.

10 Odd Games

Buzkashi is the Afghan national sport. It is also a popular sport among the south Central Asians such as the Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Turkmens and Pashtuns. The Turkic name of the game is Kökbörü; Kök = "blue", börü = "wolf", denoting the grey wolf—the holy symbol of the Turkic people. Other Turkic names of the game are Ulak Tartish, Kuk Pari, Kök Berü, and Ulak Tyrtysh. Kökbörü is the most popular national sport of Kyrgyzstan. In the West, the game (Turkish: Cirit) is also played by Kyrgyz Turks who migrated to Ulupamir village in the Van district of Turkey from the Pamir region. Buzkashi is often compared to polo. Both games are played between people on horseback, both involve propelling an object toward a goal, and both get fairly rough. However, polo is played with a ball, and buzkashi is played with a headless goat carcass. Polo matches are played for fixed periods totaling about an hour; traditional Buzkashi may continue for days, but in its more regulated tournament version also has a limited match 09 more sports after the break...
02. Sepak takraw
Sepak takraw or kick volleyball, is a sport native to the Malay-Thai Peninsula. Sepak takraw differs from the similar sport of volleyball in its use of a rattan ball and only allowing players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball. It is a popular sport in Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, the game is called sepak raga or "takraw". It is also thuck thay (Lao: "twine" and "kick") while in Thailand it is sometimes called takraw. In Myanmar it is known as chin lone. In the Philippines, besides "takraw" it is also known as sipa, meaning "kick". Similar games include footbag net, footvolley, football tennis, bossaball, jianzi and sipa. These similar games all involve keepie uppies. Wiki

03. Runs cheese
Horseback cheese - interesting sport championships are held annually on it in England, where the tradition for two hundred years. This is one of the strangest sports today. The essence of the game - is simple: the players run down the hill down to the head sliding down the cheese. Whoever he reaches the finish line first gets a prize that same head cheese. Competitions are usually held at the Cooper Hill, which is not quite normal hill. It is so steep and uneven, that if you start to run on it, no turning back. Each year participants "marathon" is a lot of injuries, and this could be a concussion, sprains, broken ribs, noses, feet, and many others injured. And yet it does not stop bored Brits to participate in this competition every year.

04. The Marathon "Man Against Horse"
This marathon - an unusual sporting event which is held annually in June in the town Lanurtid Uels in Wales. The game is quite simple: to overpower a running 22 miles (35 kilometers) and reach the finish line faster than anyone else. By means other people are riding. Runners have to overcome all the way near the real horses. If you have forgotten, horses are one of the fastest land animal planet. To cope with this task, you must be not only fast but also very sturdy. In 2004, the "man-lump" on the name Hav Lobby was able to reach the finish line in 2 hours and 5 minutes. It was the first person to win in these competitions. As he succeeded, remains a mystery.

05. Scuba diving on a bicycle
This is an unusual sport came with two eccentrics who seem to have touched something valiyskogo ale and come up with such an unusual sport game. Diving championships on bikes traditionally held every year on July 10. The aim of the game is simple: players wear fins, masks and snorkels, sit on the special bikes and recovering at the bottom of the pond from start to finish. This pond is about 2 meters depth and at length reaches about 50 meters. He who overcomes it all the more quickly the pond, wins. Reaching the finish line is not so simple as a pond filled with algae, mud, and it inhabited by various creatures, including leeches. Moreover, it is likely that you can swallow the dirty water.

06. Drag and wives
If you think that scuba diving on a bicycle in a swamp - a strange sports game, what do you think about sports dragging wives? This sporting event takes place every year in October in Finland and the United States. Believe it or not, but say that this sport came after a group of thieves began stealing other people's wives of unsuspecting husbands. Game rules are simple: competitors must run in the distillation, carrying a woman on the back (preferably his own wife). Those who manage to reach the finish line first, wins. In fact, dragged his wife in three ways: when a man throws a woman just over her shoulder, she clings to him or behind him, or he carries it in front of him in her arms. Participants should not just run, but also to overcome obstacles - a pond to swim, jump over fences, walk across the sand and so on.

07. Chessboxing
Chessboxing - a new sport, but everything is new - it is well forgotten old, though perhaps not entirely forgotten. This hybrid, which is a mixture of two completely different sports - chess and boxing. That is, competitors must be able to play good chess, and at the same time great boxing. It begins with what people are playing chess for 4 minutes. During this round, participants put on headphones, so they do not hear the cries of the spectators and commentators voice. After a round of chess it is time to go into the ring and 3 minutes to defend his honor in boxing. Rounds up to follow each other until someone wins. Participants can win if you put the checkmate the opponent, or sent to a knockout. If this happens, the judge announces the winner, according to the scoring.

08. Bossaball
Bossaball also very similar to volleyball. It is played on a court that is divided into a grid, and it involved two teams with many players. However, in contrast to the volleyball court, instead of a solid field of participants to move around inflatable trampoline. This coating allows players to jump very high to catch the ball or score. As sepak TACRO, this kind of volleyball is also very fun sport that requires acrobatic skills.

09. A blind football
This football is usually played by blind people or those who have serious vision problems. To keep things fair, those who saw anything should wear bandages over his eyes. In this game, players use a special kind of ball that does not jump, it is much heavier weight than regular football. It also produces the sound of the ball, so players can see where he is. During the game, participants can call the names of the members of his team, or a loud scream. In this case, the parties should focus on the fine and be able to clearly distinguish between the voices of his teammates.

10. Keeping a ferret in the pants
This unusual sport appeared in England. During the game, male participants have to put two ferrets living in my pants, then tie legs at the ankles and tighten the straps so that ferrets could not get out. Also, the competitors can not wear underwear. The winner is the one who can longest keep a ferret in the pants. Feelings should not be a pleasant one. 

11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep

Go ahead, snooze!

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. 
Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. 
"Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning," says David Rapoport, MD, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program. 
Not anymore. Here are some health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep.


Funny pics — 49 more images after the break...

Famous Sea Stacks

Top 10 Famous Sea Stacks From Around the World

A stack or sea stack is a rock formation made up of a steep or upright column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast. They are formed when part of a headland is eroded by water crashing against the rock or as a result of wind erosion. These impressive formations are intricately created by nature only through time, tide and wind. Here are 10 famous sea stack formations from around the World.

01. Dun Briste, Ireland
Photo Link

 Dun Briste, a spectacular sea-stack, estimated to be approximately 50 metres (165ft) in height, stands 80 metres (260ft) off Downpatrick Head, in the town-land of Knockaun, east of Ballycastle, Ireland. Downpatrick Head is where the Atlantic has gouged a huge bay from the mighty cliffs and their summits scoured of all vegetation except grass by the ceaseless ocean winds.

Each year, Downpatrick is frequented by birdwatchers, who come to observe and record the many different species which take up positions on the stratified face of the stack as the seasons change. In May and early June, the headland itself is a blaze of colour when the sea-pink comes into bloom. Link Map
09 more  Sea Stacks after the break...

02. Sail Rock, Russia

 Photo Link

Sail Rock is a natural sandstone monolith located on the shore of the Black Sea, in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It resembles the outline of a ship’s sail, hence its name. The monolith lies 17 km (10.5mi) to the southeast of Gelendzhik, near the village of Praskoveyevka (which is about 500 meters (1,650ft) from the coast) and the farmstead of Dzhankhot (approximately twice that distance from the coast).

 Photo Link
Sail Rock has a sheer vertical slope confronting the shore of sea, isolated from the mass of basic rock by geological forces. It is more than three-fourths revealed by the tide and lies perpendicular to the coast. What is most remarkable about this landmark is its proportions. While the cliff is only a little more than a meter (3ft) thick, its height is about 25 meters (82ft) and its length about 20 (66ft). Thus, the form of the cliff is described as resembling the outline of a quadrangular sail. Link Map

03. Old Man of Hoy, Scotland, UK
Photo Link

The Old Man of Hoy is a 449 feet (137m) sea stack on the island of Hoy. It is a distinctive landmark from the Thurso to Stromness ferry and was first climbed in 1966. This stack is an red sandstone stack, perched on a plinth of basalt rock. It stands close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of the island of Hoy, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland.

 Photo Link

The stack is probably less than 400 years old and may not get much older, as there are indications that it may soon collapse. On maps drawn between 1600 and 1750, the area appears as a headland with no sea stack. William Daniell, a landscape painter, sketched the sea stack in 1817 as a wider column with a smaller top section and an arch at the base, from which it derived its name. A print of this drawing is still available in local museums. Sometime in the early 19th century, a storm washed away one of the legs leaving it much as it is today, although erosion continues. Link Map

04. Risin og Kellingin, Faroe Islands
  Photo Link

Risin og Kellingin (Risin and Kellingin) are two sea stacks just off the northern coast of the island of Eysturoy in the Faroe Islands close to the town of Eiði. The name Risin og Kellingin means The Giant and the Witch and relates to an old legend about their origins. The Giant (Risin) is the 71m (233ft) stack further from the coast, and the witch (Kellingin) is the 68m (223ft) pointed stack nearer land, standing with her legs apart.

  Photo Link

The stacks can be viewed by walking north from Eiði then turning east towards the coast and following the low cliffs for a short way. Other good views can be had on a clear day from Tjørnuvík on the island of Streymoy. Faroese geologists predict that Kellingin, which currently stands on two legs, will fall into the sea sometime in the next few decades during the winter storms. Already part of the stack broke off at the beginning of the twentieth century. Link Map

05. Ko Tapu, Thailand
  Photo Link

Ko Tapu is a limestone rock about 20 metres (66 ft) tall with the diameter increasing from about 4 metres (13 ft) near the water level to about 8 metres (26 ft) at the top. It lies about 40 metres (130 ft) to the west from the northern part of Khao Phing Kan (a pair of islands on the west coast of Thailand).

  Photo Link

A scientific version of the Ko Tapu formation says that the area was a barrier reef. Then, upon tectonic movements, it ruptured, and its parts were dispersed over the area and flooded by the rising ocean. Wind, waves, water currents and tides gradually eroded the islands thus formed, sometimes producing peculiar shapes, such as Ko Tapu. Tide-related erosion is visible at the bottom of the rock. Link Map

06. Ball’s Pyramid, Australia
  Photo Link

Ball's Pyramid is 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Lord Howe Island in the Pacific Ocean. It is 562 metres (1,844 ft) high, while measuring only 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in length and 300 metres (980 ft) across, making it the tallest volcanic stack in the world.  Ball's Pyramid is part of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park.

  Photo Link

In 2001, a large species of insect commonly known as a tree lobster or Lord Howe Island stick insect was discovered clinging to the stack eighty years after it was believed to have gone extinct. Rats introduced to the larger islands are to blame for the six-inch insect’s demise. Scientists captured several insects to breed, which they finally did successfully, and may be introduced to the mainland. Link 1 2 Map

07. Kicker Rock, Galapagos, Ecuador
  Photo Link

Kicker Rock, also called the Sleeping Lion is a rocky formation and popular dive destination on the western side of Isla San Cristobal, the easternmost island in the Galápagos archipelago.

  Photo Link

This gigantic rock raises 500 feet (152m) straight from the ocean and represents the remains of a lava cone, now split in two. There is a mild current that passes through the two rocks, which attracts hammerhead and Galápagos sharks. Kicker Rock is also home to a large colony of sea birds. Link Map

08. Old Harry Rocks, UK
  Photo Link

The Old Harry Rocks are two chalk stacks located on the Dorset coast in the south of England. The rocks mark the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. The cliffs here are mainly made up of chalk, with some bands of flint within them.

  Photo Link

The sea stacks are continuously being eroded by the sea and are therefore an ever-changing feature. In the 18th century, people could still walk from the mainland to Old Harry, which is the stack at the end nearest to the sea. Link Map. Link Map

09. The Twelve Apostles, Australia
  Photo Link

The Twelve Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Their proximity to one another has made the site a popular tourist attraction.

  Photo Link

Tourism activities (including helicopter tours) are conducted from a visitor centre, situated on the inland side of the Great Ocean Road; with parking and viewing areas. Parks Victoria classifies the structure as nationally significant, with the area being one of Victoria's major tourist features; attracting approximately two million visitors a year. Parks Victoria was responsible for the construction of board-walks, tracks, and viewing areas.  Link Map

10. Tri Brata, Russia
  Photo Link

At the entrance of Avacha Bay lies Tri Brata, a trio of scenic stacks which is considered a symbol of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the main city of Kamchatka Krai, Russia.

 Photo Link

The name is Russian which literally means "Three Brothers". Legend has it that three brothers who went to defend a town from a tsunami turned into pillars of stone. Link Map

25 most-used passwords revealed: Is yours one of them?

Summary: Unfortunately, too many people are still relying on "password" as the key to their login information, based on a new report.

After it was discovered that more than six million LinkedIn passwords had been leaked as well asmany at and eHarmony, no one has stopped talking about password and passcode security.
That's actually a good thing because it's an incredibly important topic that many Internet users don't take seriously.
Case in point, take a look at this new report from IT security consultant Mark Burnett. Self-described as someone who "loves writing about passwords," Burnett has compiled a list of the "top 500 worst (aka most common) passwords" based on a variety of methods he has detailed on his blog.
Here are the top 25, as extracted by antivirus solution provider ESET. Is yours one of them? If so, it's safe to say you should consider changing it to something stronger immediately.
  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. 1234
  5. qwerty
  6. 12345
  7. dragon
  8. pussy
  9. baseball
  10. football
  11. letmein
  12. monkey
  13. 696969
  14. abc123
  15. mustang
  16. michael
  17. shadow
  18. master
  19. jennifer
  20. 111111
  21. 2000
  22. jordan
  23. superman
  24. harley
  25. 1234567
via ESET

Sony Vaio S Series 13P

The good: Improved battery life, Nvidia graphics, and lots of upgrade options make the new 13-inch Sony Vaio S Series 13P an improvement over last year's model.
The bad: A flexible lid, an imperfect touch pad, and too many confusing upgrade options -- some of which aren't needed -- keep the Vaio S from being as usable as it could be.
The bottom line: Lightweight, comfortable, and with a good feature set, the Sony Vaio S 13P might be expensive compared with other Windows laptops offering a similar package, but it beats Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro, for the same price.

Now that ultrabooks and ultrathin laptops are commonplace, what happens to the average nonultrabook laptop? It needs to step up, that's what. After using a MacBook Air for the last few months, my expectations for a 13-inch laptop are that it should be razor-thin. Maybe you're more forgiving, but when it comes to a smaller laptop, I want it as small as possible.
The new Sony Vaio S Series 13P is an important tweak to the previous Vaio S line, which I've reviewed twice before. The premium version I reviewed, the SVS13A190X, isn't cheap; it starts at $1,119, but then again, there are a host of improvements over the $1,050 Sony Vaio SA41FX that I reviewed less than six months ago. Sony has added a slot-loading drive and a larger touch pad; more RAM is included, and the hard drive is larger; there are a new, faster Intel CPU, better Nvidia graphics, and an integrated battery, which gives much improved battery life over the previous generation's $150 slice battery add-on, sold separately and practically a requirement for good battery life the last go-around.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
Granted, you can get a Vaio S for as little as $799, but not all Vaio models are made alike. To get the Nvidia graphics and other bells and whistles, you'll need to pay up. As a package deal at the high end, however, the Vaio S is both lightweight (3.7 pounds) and full of features that I now expect in a laptop that's not an ultrabook.
This is the laptop that I wanted the new 13-inch MacBook Pro to be: lighter, graphics-boosted, with a higher-res screen. This Vaio S isn't a revolutionary machine, but it's finally a version of the Vaio S that makes no compromises, and gets a leg up on Apple's 13-inch Pro in the process.
Starting price / Price as reviewed$1,119 / $1,199
Processor2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M
Memory6GB, 1,333MHz DDR3
Hard drive640GB, 7,200rpm
ChipsetIntel HM77
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GT 640M LE (1GB) / Intel HD 4000
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD)13x8.8 inches
Height0.95 inch
Screen size (diagonal)13.3 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter3.7 pounds / 4.4 pounds
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The Sony Vaio S Series 13P is a high-end variation on the S line, a replacement for the small-business-targeted and confusingly named Vaio SA model from the last generation. The new Vaio looks similar in terms of its all-matte-black design and tapered footprint, but some of the laptop's lines are curved where they were previously angular. The Vaio S Series 13P comes in three color options: Carbon Black, Carbon Gold, and Carbon Gunmetal.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The upgraded premium version of the Vaio S bears a carbon fiber lid: it feels rigid, but still flexes as much on its center hinge as previous models. However, the partial carbon fiber construction of the S Series 13P makes it surprisingly lightweight for its size, at 3.7 pounds. It's easy to lift with one hand. The move to a carbon fiber lid (as opposed to magnesium alloy on the "regular" Sony Vaio S Enhanced) shaves 0.1 pound off.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
A cleaned-up look lends the new Vaio a touch of minimalism. A slot-loading DVD drive replaces the tray-loading version from the last Vaio S. A larger, far wider clickpad looks much cleaner than the old, smaller touch pad with its discrete buttons beneath. Still, odd buttons and toggles like the Stamina/Speed graphics switch remain above the keyboard area, adding extra clutter (honestly, why can't the switch be software-based or automatic?). The switch toggles power profiles, and can disable the GPU in Stamina mode, but there's no reason why this laptop couldn't simply rely on Nvidia's Optimus technology for automatic switching instead.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The Vaio S feels like a larger version of the Vaio Z, and not far off from the size and weight of Sony's ultrabook, the Vaio T. The T is 0.7 inch thick and weighs 3.4 pounds; the Vaio S Series 13P is 0.95 inch thick and 3.7 pounds. The last Vaio S I reviewed was a tiny bit thinner (0.9 inch) and lighter (3.5 pounds), but not by much.
While some might look at the new Vaio S and see a larger version of the Vaio Z, the laptop shares more in common cosmetically with the Vaio T: it has a same-size touch pad, with extra-wide finger space for multifinger gestures. The matte surface responds well to finger motion, but multigesture commands can sometimes be tough to pull off. Still, the whole affair's a lot better than the smaller, more cramped pad on the previous Vaio S. The brushed-metal palm rest area still feels comfortable and offers generous space.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
Good news: the keyboard is equally excellent. The raised, backlit keys have more travel than on the far shallower Vaio T, and the keys are large, well-spaced, and not cramped by any weird extra buttons like the ones that pop up on some other computers.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
A few dedicated buttons above the keyboard launch Web (a browser hot-key), Vaio (Sony's photo/media software), and Assist (customer service help and diagnostics). Next to that is the odd Speed/Stamina toggle that persists from Sony's last-gen Vaios. Flipping it activates one of two power/graphics modes, but it's really unnecessary. You could adjust these settings on your own. A more useful inclusion is the fingerprint reader located next to the Assist key at the top. It's an odd location for the button (usually it makes sense somewhere near the touch pad), but Sony includes a tool set for using the reader to consolidate log-in and account passwords.
Sony's preinstalled software includes a whole suite of video and music tools: Imagination Studio Vaio Edition includes DVD Architect Studio, Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum, Sound Forge Audio Studio and ACID Music Studio, and Sony's PlayMemories and Media Gallery. They're an alternative to Apple's suite of iLife software. Most of these programs can be launched via a pop-up Vaio Gate toolbar that hovers from the top of the screen.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The 13.3-inch matte display does a good job of keeping glare away in an office; the screen's 1,600x900-pixel resolution is a step up from the average 1,366x768-pixel resolution of most 13-inch laptops, and colors and text alike pop vividly. Unfortunately, the screen has terrible off-axis viewing angles, as compared with a superior display like the one on the Samsung Series 9. Just make sure you look at it straight on.
Stereo speakers, heralded by Sony for having Dolby definition, sound louder than expected. They're surprisingly noisy when playing games or watching movies and have some excellent treble for spoken word -- sound effects in an episode of "Breaking Bad" actually had pop. When playing music, though, some bass notes sounded distorted.
A 1,280x1,024 HD Webcam had good light sensitivity in a dim office, but exhibited a grainy quality using the included ArcSoft WebCam Companion software.
Sony Vaio S Series 13P S13A190XAverage for category [13-inch]
VideoHDMI, VGAHDMI or DisplayPort
AudioStereo speakers, headphone/microphone combo jackStereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0 w/power-off charge, SD card reader, MagicGate card reader2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, SD card reader
NetworkingEthernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, BluetoothEthernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical driveDVD burner, optional Blu-rayDVD burner
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The Vaio S Series 13P's got you covered when it comes to ports and features: USB 3.0, a USB 2.0 port that can charge while the laptop is powered off, Ethernet, HDMI, and VGA along with two media card slots (SD and MagicGate/Memory Stick) line the Vaio's right side, while the slot-loading DVD drive sits alone on the left next to an oddly placed rear headphone jack.
This $1,199 Vaio S Series fits a nonultrabook (meaning, faster) third-gen Core i5 processor, a 640GB hard drive, 6GB of RAM, a slot-loading DVD drive, Nvidia graphics, and a higher-res 1,600x900-pixel display into the package.
The pricing and distinctions between various Sony models can often get confusing, and with the new Vaio S it's not much easier to understand. The Vaio S series comes in three pricing tiers: Standard (starting at $799), Enhanced (starting at $999), and Premium (starting at $1,119). Enhanced and Premium include Nvidia graphics, but the differences between Enhanced and Premium are harder to appreciate. Premium, based on what we can suss out on Sony's site, includes TPM for business security, solid-state drive (SSD) storage options, and a fingerprint reader. The average user can probably skip that $119 upsell and go for the Enhanced version (the review unit sent by Sony is the Premium model).
Upgrade options are plentiful: you can pick from a trio of Core i5 or i7 processors, Nvidia 1GB or 2GB graphics, up to 12GB of RAM, up to 1TB of hard drive storage or 512GB SSD, and even an optional Blu-ray player or burner. One thing you can't upgrade is screen resolution.
With a third-gen 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M processor, the Vaio S Series 13P handled everyday tasks very well. It matched up surprisingly closely with the 1.9GHz Core i7-3517U ultrabook CPU seen in the Acer Aspire S5 391-9880, an indicator that the gap between "full-fledged" dual-core laptops and ultrabooks is diminishing by the month. The Vaio S13A190X I reviewed still outperformed most ultrabooks, but as you can see, the difference is sometimes in terms of seconds. In some tests, the Vaio S came close to the performance of the more affordable but less robust Vaio T13112FXS. The 13-inch MacBook Pro still outperformed the Vaio S Series 13P in several of our multitasking and single-tasking tests, but software such as iTunes tends to perform better on Apple hardware.
Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics with 1GB of memory add a nice boost for gaming, and the leap in performance is obvious, although it's not enough to get you into the territory that would satisfy a serious gamer. Street Fighter IV ran at 64.8 frames per second at 1,600x900, and Metro 2033 -- always a challenging game to run well -- ran at 14.3fps at 1,366x768 with graphics settings on High. Mafia II ran at 28.6fps when I ran its benchmark at 1,600x900 resolution and default graphics settings. You can expect a better experience for games than you'd get at this weight class otherwise.
I appreciate that, at long last, the Vaio S can boast good battery performance without relying on an annoying slice battery add-on. The integrated battery lasted 5 hours and 37 minutes in our video playback test. The last Vaio S I reviewed only made it 3 hours and 24 minutes when set on Speed mode. The extra $150 slice battery (still an upgrade option) boosted battery life back then, to only about a half hour more than the current Vaio S got without one. Finally, you can skip the battery purchase and go a day on what Sony included built-in. It's still not stellar battery life, but it's better than what you get from most Windows machines in its class, including the larger15-inch Vaio S we recently reviewed.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The Sony Vaio S is backed by an industry-standard one-year mail-in warranty. Support is accessible 24-7 via a toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and a Web site with driver downloads. Sony's support sites are clean and easy to navigate, but upgrades can be a bit steep, running $179 for a three-year mail-in plan, or $329 for a three-year plan that includes accidental damage protection.
The new 13-inch Sony Vaio S is a big step up from the last generation, resulting in a laptop that, while still not perfect, finally finds a good middle ground between ultrabook and full-size machine without feeling too redundant. More hard drive space, better graphics, more upgrade options, and an optical drive that's Blu-ray-upgradable may make the difference for some shoppers, but make sure you price out a sensible model that doesn't needlessly break the bank. Most consumers probably don't need the extra features of the Premium edition.$6.2

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