The Vaio laptop brand is dipping its toe into the affordable space with a new series of notebooks featuring several impressive specs at prices under $950.
The new Vaio FE Series are currently selling at Walmart and Walmart.com and will also be available at Sam’s Club.
You might remember the legendary Vaio brand from a bygone era, known for its high-end build quality and cutting-edge design. The new Vaio is no longer owned by Sony, however, but that hasn’t stopped the brand from attempting a comeback.
The 14.1-inch notebook comes in three models, with Full HD anti-glare screens, two built-in speakers, a front-facing camera with a privacy shutter, a fingerprint scanner, and a precision touchpad, the brand noted.
The series is powered by 12th-gen Intel Core processors, which power many of the highlight features of the Vaio FE notebooks. These include THX Spatial Audio technology, which allows for a 360-degree sound experience that can be enjoyed over speakers, earbuds, or headphones, the brand added. The processors also allow for up to 46% energy conservation, which supports a battery life of up to 10 hours on each model.
Running Windows 11 Home as its operating system, the Viao FE Series benefits from such features as password-free unlocking, Focus Assist to block notifications, Microsoft Photos, and Snap layouts to better organize apps and windows. The system also features an Xbox Game Bar, which allows gamers to chat, track performance, and screen record.
The base model Vaio FE sells for $700 and features a 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1235U processor, 512 GB Solid State Drive, and 8GB memory. It comes in Black, Blue, Silver, and Rose Gold color options.
The mid-tier Vaio FE model sells for $800 and features a 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1235U processor, 1 TB solid-state drive, and 16GB memory. It comes in Black, Blue, Silver, and Rose Gold color options.
The top-tier Vaio FE model sells for $950 and features a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-1255U processor, 1 TB solid-state drive, and 16GB memory. It comes in Black, Blue, Silver, and Rose Gold color options.
This isn’t the first Vaio laptop to make a resurgence. The Vaio Z launched last year as an attempt to recapture the premium branding of the original line.
Seemingly out of left-field. Nickelodeon announced a new Super Smash Bros-like fighting game Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl. The surprise announcement immediately caught the eye of Smash Bros. Twitter, which exploded with reactions.
At first, that reaction was due to the sheer hilarity of a Nicktoons fighting game. Upon further inspection, those laughs became genuine excitement. Serious players in the fighting game community are thinking that the cartoon brawler may be a deceptively legitimate competitive experience.
The developer’s history
One of the first things that opened the competitive eyes to All-Stars Brawl is the game’s developer: Ludosity. Ludosity is the team behind one of the many Super Smash Bros Melee-inspired clones, Slap City.
Slap City is a platform fighting game in the vein of Super Smash Bros, namely influenced by Super Smash Bros. Melee. This indie-fighter pulled a ton of technical inspiration from the high-level techniques of the Smash series, making it a hit among genre diehards.
The fighter released to positive reception and that has players intrigued by All-Stars Brawl. Reacting to the trailer, competitive Melee player Hungrybox stating, “The makers of Slap City made this game. And Slap City is, in my humble opinion, the best Melee clone.”
That detail initially grabbed players’ curiosity, but the actual gameplay trailer has demanded further attention. For fans of competitive fighters, the combination of the trailer and the developer’s pedigree teases a legitimate contender in the fighting game scene.
Nickelodeon is adopting Smash’s past
When the trailer dropped, fans immediately began dishing out jokes and comparing it to Smash Bros. On further inspection, however, fans began taking it much more seriously. The developers answered questions about the game through Discord, revealing details that immediately changed fans’ tune.
Like a dream, Nickelodeon’s fighter is bringing back wavedashing, a high-level technique constantly used in Super Smash Bros Melee. It’s a complex technique that allows players to cancel a very low air dodge into a ground slide, making them glide along the ground without walking or running. That’s a feature that isn’t even in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (well, aside from Kazuya Mishima, of course). Eagle-eyed viewers even noticed that the technique was sneakily dropped in the actual reveal trailer.
More expert techniques were shown in the clip, specifically a short sequence by Patrick Star of all characters. In the clip, the Spongebob character performs a full-hop, into back waveland, platform drop, back aerial attack. To put that in simple terms, it’s a series of very advanced maneuvers allowing players to slide near-instantly through a platform and attack while falling.
For Smash fans, the trailer proves that this game may be more than another licensed game that’s only good for memes. Could we be looking at a genuine alternative for those wanting another Melee?
That isn’t the only part of the game pulled from Smash’s past. The game gives players the ability to run through characters, which was removed for the first time in Smash history with Super Smash Bros Ultimate. This allows for the return of techniques like shield cross-ups, which the Super Smash wiki defines as “the act of timing an attack such that the user moves past the opponent and ends up behind them once the hitboxes are gone.”
The final piece of Melee‘s DNA that can be spotted in the trailer is Edge-hogging, another tactic from the past that was removed in Ultimate. This entails a character holding a ledge so their opponent can’t grab it while recovering. You can see this demonstrated in the image above where Sandy is attempting to grab the ledge with what may be her side-B attack. However, due to Lincoln Loud already holding the edge, she misses it and simply falls.
Yes, it will have rollback netcode
The mechanics, tournament-ready stages, and more fully put a competitive eye on All-Star Brawl. But what no one was ready for was the big netcode reveal. The developers were asked the big question about All-Star Brawl‘s netcode and immediately responded, confirming rollback will be included on supported platforms.
Rollback is the best possible networking for fighting games, as opposed to the competition. The fighting game glossary breaks how it works down, defining it as, “An approach to implementing netcode in a fighting game that plays your own inputs immediately, and then rewinds and resimulates (or ‘rolls back’) the game if network delay causes inconsistencies.”
Fans do have some concerns about how the online networking will function across consoles, though. Fans noticed rollback netcode will be available “on supported platforms,” which has Nintendo Switch fans concerned. Nintendo’s history with bad online led many to instantly believe it’d be left out of the equation, which would hurt the game’s competitive viability.
Despite such worries, many are looking at Nickelodeon’s latest trek into the fighting game world as a future home to more competition. I, for one, can’t wait to see Reptar and Powdered Toast Man mains complain about their bad matchups against Nigel of TheWild Thornberries.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite is a tiny tablet with low-end specs and a nearly-newest version of Android. This tablet has an 8.7-inch TFT tablet with 1340 x 800 pixel resolution with 60Hz refresh rate. This is the sort of tablet you buy if you want a simple, yet updated tablet-sized presentation of Android from Samsung.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite will be sold with Android 11. This tablet’s body measures in at 212.5 x 124.7 x 8mm, and it weighs in at between 366 and 371g, depending on if you’re getting the Wi-Fi version or the LTE version. As it is with any mobile data capable device, you’ll want to make sure this tablet is compatible with your carrier of choice before you drop any money – they don’t always match!
Both versions of this tablet have a MediaTek Helio P22T octa-core processor and either 3GB or 4GB RAM. The 3GB RAM version has 32GB internal storage, and the 4GB version has 64GB internal storage. Both versions have a microSD card slot that’ll allow you to add an up-to-1TB microSD card.
There’ll be two different color versions of this device, one in Gray, the other in Silver. Both versions work with USB-C connectors and both have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Both versions have accelerometers, compass, light sensor, GPS (+GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo), and Dolby Atmos audio with dual stereo speakers. That’ll likely be the most impressive part of the device – the speaker system.
If you’re looking for this device in the UK, you’ll find it available for approximately £149 or £179, depending on if you want the WiFi or LTE version. This device will have a release date in June of 2021 with a price in the USA of around $159 USD. If you’re looking for something slightly more impressive, drop back to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE revealed earlier today. That’s the one you’ll get if you want the highest end of low.
The Motile M142 14-inch notebook PC may be the best budget laptop you’ve never heard of, by a company that understands low prices. That’s because the Motile M142 is Walmart’s house brand, and it’s one that the retailer itself often passes over to promote brand-name PCs.
Yes, the M142 cuts some corners. At about 6.5 hours, its battery life is comparatively poor. The screen is somewhat dim, and lacks touchscreen capabilities. Given the price, however, it’s a laptop we wouldn’t mind recommending to friends and family with tight budgets.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.
The M142 has one notable thing going for it: AMD’s mobile Ryzen 3000-series chips. For years, seeing an older AMD A-series chip among the listed specifications meant a lackluster experience. With AMD’s mobile Ryzen, that’s changed. The M142 generally outperforms our current best budget laptop, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ, and for a price that’s about $100 less.
Walmart Motile M142 basic specs
Motile M142 chassis: sturdy, lightweight
Don’t let the price tag or the Walmart brand turn you off: The Motile M142 (also known as the M142-RG) looks and feels like a laptop that costs several hundred dollars more than it does. From the bold, brand-forward box to the simple, metallic construction, you’ll be pretty impressed initially. (Note that Walmart tends to adjust its pricing frequently. While the M142 dropped as low as $329 for the holidays, it varied between $349 and $399 just over the course of this review.)
At well under 3 pounds, the M142 is surprisingly light. The chassis felt completely sturdy under my fingers, with no flex and a solid hinge. There’s venting throughout, though you should expect the M142’s fan to turn on frequently and somewhat loudly, with a faint high-pitched undertone that some might find irritating, though I didn’t.
Though a traditional clamshell design, the M142’s display folds a bit farther back than most, to about 30 degrees off the horizontal. If you’re exceedingly tall or sit upright, the M142’s deep recline may feel more comfortable.
Though it’s a consumer notebook through and through, the M142 retains the business notebook’s predilection for ports, with a smorgasbord of USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, and even the fold-out “dropjaw” ethernet port.
In any low-cost notebook, you will find some shortcuts made here and there to save cost. Two stand out immediately: Walmart saved a few pennies with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, rather than the more common USB 3.1. This means that external hard drives, especially, will transfer data a bit more slowly than normal. Pay attention to what port you’re using if you’re connecting an external hard drive, as the USB 2.0 port won’t transfer data as quickly. The ports are marked to tell the difference.
The other shortcut is the display. Motile’s 1080p IPS screen has a maximum brightness of only 210 nits, when we consider 250 to 260 nits to be an appropriate baseline for everyday, prolonged use. A second unit we received generated only 190 nits, which will look pretty murky except in a dimly lit office. Under bright light, the M142’s display will begin to wash out, even though it preserves viewing angles.
You can always connect to an external display, and the Motile M142 supported an external 4K monitor with no issues. I was also able to configure that display in HDR mode.
Another issue is that the display lacks touchscreen capabilities. Again, this may or may not matter for different users. Personally, not being able to reach up and tap an on-screen option feels a bit weird.
We always appreciate the security and convenience of Windows Hello, which is present in the 720p front-facing camera. It was a bit slow to recognize me, and the visual quality of the camera is pretty lousy. But the basics are there.
Motile M142’s keyboard: Not crummy, but crumby
Typing on the Motile M142’s keyboard was quite comfortable, although the action might not be quite as springy as you’d like. The large keys provide an acceptable amount of travel, though they seem to offer a bit less resistance than other keyboards I’ve tried, meaning that my fingers bottomed out with less effort.
We were concerned that the keyboard keys are surrounded by wide, deep gaps that could allow crumbs, dust, and other grit to drop directly into the housings. Granted, no keyboard with moving parts is immune to dirt. Chiclet keys that you’ll find on other keyboards, for instance, are like vertical pillars that emerge from a floor, with tiny gaps that can allow access to dust and other microdebris.
With the Motile M142, the keyboard is more like a series of raised platforms. If nothing else, they look like channels which could accumulate crumbs and other junk rather easily over time—and they did, over the days I tested it. You may want to re-invest some of the Motile M142’s savings into a can of compressed airRemove non-product link.
Otherwise, the layout is mostly straightforward, with the standard navigation arrow keys in the lower right. An unusual “speedometer” key in the function row (F5) toggles between the normal or “basic” mode and the “quiet” mode, which turns off the somewhat omnipresent fan. The keyboard also includes a pair of buttons for adjusting the backlight brightness up or down. There are three modes from which to choose, including off and two brightness levels.
The M142’s Windows precision trackpad rates as pretty good, taking up the entirety of the space between the space bar and the bottom of the laptop. I found it comfortable to use and responsive, though it’s only clickable across half of the surface or so. Interestingly, the button to turn off the trackpad is found on the trackpad itself: Two quick taps on the upper right-hand corner toggles it on and off. A green indicator light on the keyboard itself (as well as a pop-up message on the display) lets you know that the touchpad has been disabled.
Motile M142 audio: THX helps a little
We’re used to dismissing laptop audio, but the Motile M142’s array is powered by THX, the company that made its name with surround sound and other audio technologies for cinema. It was THX, not Walmart, that shipped us this review unit. THX actually tuned the audio and the display of the Motile M142.
THX’s intervention did seem to help in some ways. Our first review unit, oddly enough, had three audio apps: the THX app itself, the Realtek Audio Console that ships with or is downloadable for most Windows PCs, and an app governing the Creative SoundBlaster chip—which isn’t included. THX called the latter a glitch and gave us a second machine for testing. (The second machine worked acceptably, though the “speedometer” function seemed to be disabled.)
It’s rare to find a laptop that sounds great when playing back audio from the default speakers. The Motile M142 isn’t that laptop, nor is it especially designed to be. By default, the speakers sound serviceable enough, though a bit faint. Really, the audio experience is optimized for headphones, and the THX Spatial Audio for Headphones app communicates that pretty well.
THX tells us that the software is a virtual audio driver, which should provide the same audio enhancement benefits via the 3.5mm jack as well as through Bluetooth or even USB headphones. That seems to hold true.
In our experience, the THX audio enhancements certainly lend themselves to a richer soundscape overall, including the option to turn on THX Spatial Audio in addition to the basic Stereo. The app provides a graphics equalizer, with different presets for games, movies, and audio — but, bizarrely, doesn’t differentiate between different types of music like rap and classical. Bass enhancement and a dialogue booster are also available.
Audio enhancements are definitely something to consider when buying a laptop. Should you buy the Motile M142 strictly for THX alone? No, not to my ears. Even the spatial audio demos available on THX’s page didn’t sound especially “positional”—just sort of a “wall of sound” ambient expression. Let’s just say it was reasonably competitive with other enhancements we’ve experienced, such as the Dolby Audio offered by a Microsoft Surface.
Keep reading to hear about the surprising performance ups and downs.