Sony Laptop Decoder Ring: Notebook Naming Demystified

Each of Sony's notebooks carries the name VAIO on the lid, but there's a wealth of diversity in the manufacturer's full system roster. What do all those letters and numbers mean?  Don't dive into the company's pool of laptop options alone. Here's a guide to each of Sony's offerings, one mysteriously titled series at a time.

M Series (Business Netbook)

Sony's business netbook is the 10.1-inch M series. Marketed as a supplementary notebook, this system's hard drive tops out at 250GB, packs a backlit display, and include Sony's VAIO Care software for system upkeep when the IT department is out of reach.

Y Series (Ultraportable)

A single 11.6-inch notebook makes up the consumer side of Sony's Y series. Built for portability, this 3.2-pound machine contains an up-to-date AMD E-350 processor with AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics,  so expect it to handle Hulu and Netflix video streaming as well as light online gaming. It won't handle other graphically intense workouts such as movie and photo editing. Available in pink and silver.

For mobile professionals, there's the business-league Sony VAIO Y series notebook. This version carries a 13.3-inch display and weighs 4 pounds. With its low-voltage Intel Core i3 CPU, this notebook is built for on-the-go employees who don't need tons of processing power but want a system with decent battery life that's capable of web browsing and light document editing. 

X Series (Travel-friendly Business)

This 11.1-inch system fits the bill for anyone who needs a travel-ready thin-and-light laptop. Despite its carbon fiber casing, scratch-resistant display, and aluminum keyboard panel, the X series weighs just 1.6 pounds and is less than .6 inches thin. Its specs are equally on the light side: 64GB solid state drive, Intel Atom NZ550 processor, and integrated graphics. A large-capacity battery offers up an estimated 12 hours of juice.

S Series (Consumer Portability)

Counted among Sony's most portable systems, the S series' four notebooks each sport 13.3-inch screens (1366 x 768 max resolutions) and 3.8-pound frames. The S series ships with a choice of either 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5 2410M or a 2.7 Core i7 2620M CPU, both of which are second-generation Intel Sandy Bridge chipsets available in many mainstream notebooks. Each system also includes 1 USB 3.0 port, Intel WiDi 2.0 capability for streaming video wirelessly to an HD television, and discrete AMD Radeon HD graphics.

Z Series (Business Ultraportable)

At just over 3 pounds, this 13.1-inch system melds portability with function. It's got built-in GPS, an optional Blu-ray drive, and Sony's proprietary Share My Connection feature, which turns the notebook into a mobile hotspot that can connect up to 5 gadgets to the web. On top of that, durability features such as a carbon-fiber casing, a scratch-resistant display, and solid state hard drive help extend the Z series's lifespan.

B Series (Durable Business Notebook)

The top of the line laptop in the 15.4-inch business-focused B series includes 6GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and an Intel Core i7 processor. There's also Blu-ray and an HDMI out port for those moments mobile professionals spend off the clock. Ensuring the notebook survives its life on the road are tough touches such as a spill-resistant keyboard and a protective casing made of magnesium-alloy.

E Series (Mainstream)

In the E series, Sony's notebooks grow up. Available in 14-, 15.5-, and17.3-inch screen sizes, this line is built for mid-level, everyday computing. Each system includes either Core i3 or Core i5 processors that are good for tasks like web browsing, playing video or music, and editing files with Word or Excel.

The 14 and 15.5-inch units offer a 1366 x 768 resolution, integrated Intel HD graphics, and a DVD optical drive, but the higher-end 17.3-inch model houses an AMD Radeon HD 5470 graphics card, Blu-ray drive,  Intel Wireless Display, and a full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) display.

EE Series (Business)

This 15.5-inch notebook is the budget side of Sony's business fleet. It features AMD processors and AMD discrete graphic cards, and can include up to 4GB of RAM. There's little in the way of durable design, but the keyboard boasts a full number pad and the system includes Microsoft Office Starter, VAIO Care software, and HDMI output.

C Series (Mobile Multimedia)

Like  neon green notebooks? The 14-inch  Sony VAIO C series comes in that shade (or Neon Orange). The 15.5-inch version is available in Lightning White and Bolt Black.  What the last model lacks in color choice, it makes up for in resolution, 1920 x 1080 pixels to be exact. Thanks to the latest Intel Core i5 processors, AMD Radeon graphics, and an optional Blu-ray optical drive, these notebooks are designed for mainstream notebook users with an eye for media power on the go.

F Series (Entertainment)

The F series is the place any dedicated media maven or gamer (who doesn't mind spending at least $1,100) should look for a Sony machine that suits them. The 16- and 16.4-inch notebooks come with high resolutions of 1600 x 900 or 1920 or 1080 pixels and Blu-ray drives. The CPU options are powerful, quad-core Core i7-2720QM chips, and discrete Nvidia GeForce GT video cards help crunch graphics for intense gaming. Other premium perks include 2 USB 3.0 ports,  an HD webcam, and an optional 3D display for cutting edge entertainment junkies.

Sony Model Number Tips

Sony has some of the longest (and most complicated) naming conventions in the industry. Just take a look at one VAIO notebook's full name: "Sony VAIO VPCCA15FX/W".  Here's a character-by-character breakdown of what that means.

VPC - Represents "VAIO Personal Computers", so this prefix is reflected in every Sony notebook's full name.
C -  The series family. Other examples include E, C, or the Y series.
A - The series model. This letter identifies the model detail. For the C series, A indicates the 14-inch model and B represents the 15.5-inch one.
1 - Generation number. Over the years, several VAIO series have undergone revisions. This digit explains the generation, or the number of model refreshes. 
5 - Grade. Sony uses the letter or number in this position to represent a specific SKU of the product. The character can reference software specifics, hardware details, or a combination of both. For configurable Sony notebooks, the number in this position is always 9.
F - OS code. F is for Windows 7 Home Premium and G represents  Windows 7 Professional.
X - Region code. An X or M represents the US region.
W - Product color. This can be two letters, and the exact code varies from series to series.

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