Turning Off Auto-Brightness on Your Sony VAIO Pro 13's Screen: 2 Easy Steps
Topnotch machine with an annoying quirk
The Sony VAIO Pro 13 is actually an "old" model by today's tech standards. It's been around for more than 12 months (as of this writing 05JUL2014) but it's still, in my humble opinion, one of the best designed Ultrabooks available. I will not bore you with the usual comprehensive review of its features as you will find that there are already plenty of them out there. If you're looking for such then I will suggest that you hop on to this Engadget page where you will find a bunch of expert assessment of what this piece of gadgetry can do. Then after buying your Pro 13 just come back here and I will help you deal with the very annoying Screen Auto-Brightness feature.
What is Screen Auto-Brightness?
Screen Auto-brightness is a neat feature (at least that's the plan) that enable screen displays to adjust brightness automatically depending on the ambient lighting. This means it should help you get optimum screen brightness wherever you are without you having to fidget around the controls manually. The Vaio Pro 13 has an ambient light sensor located just above the "F6" key and it is this that makes the algorithmic calculation of how bright your screen should be given any room or location lighting. The sensor is also what triggers the very useful keyboard back-lighting which is one feature that sets it apart from most Ultrabooks in the market today.
The idea behind the auto-brightness feature is certainly good but the problem with this Sony VAIO model is that it's too aggressive in it's adjustments that the screen seems to constantly dim and brighten in response to the tiniest changes in lighting. At times it appears to flicker like there's something wrong with your screen's back lighting akin to what busted fluorescent lights do. A shadow falling on the sensor will trigger a reaction on screen, dimming it in the process and it's not done in a very subtle way. Being that the screen is a touch screen, the shadow of your hand will cause it to react frequently. This problem is well-documented in the Sony users forums and a simple Google search will lead you to them. The Sony simply isn't at par with the Macbook in this regard as the latter tend to adjust brightness very subtly that you may not notice it at times.
And now, the steps on how to make it stop doing that:
Step 1: Turn off Auto-Brightness in VAIO Control Center
You will need to find your way to the VAIO Control Center and go into the "Image Quality" controls (see below). There you will find an on/off toggle for the feature. Turn it off.
The VAIO Control Center can be accessed from the Windows 8 taskbar (if you still haven't removed it) or the "Start" or "Apps" Home Screens of Windows 8. If you get lost just do a search of "VAIO Control Center" and you should find it easy enough. Open up Search by keying the Windows Key + S.
Step 2: Turn Off Auto-Brightness in the Intel HD Graphics Control Panel
You'd think the first step should have been enough to fix the issue, right? But then you'll quickly find out that isn't the case because your screen is still doing the automatic brightness dance. The reason behind this is the fact that this feature is also utilized by Intel's power management via the HD Graphics Control Panel. Naturally, you'll need to turn that off, too.
The Intel HD Graphics Control panel can be accessed via the system tray. Or, again, if you're having a hard time getting to it, just do a "Search" by pressing Windows + S.
See below to see what the Intel control panel looks like.
After bringing up the control panel (see above image), you'll need to go into the "Power" management panel where you will need to click on the "On battery" controls.
Turn Off "Display Power Saving Technology" (see below) and you should be set.
A Better Experience
The Sony VAIO Pro 13's automatic brightness control is a great idea that's implemented poorly on this great machine. Thankfully the two simple steps should go a long way in creating a better user experience for this Ultrabook. After all, controlling the screen brightness manually is easy enough by simply using function keys (Fn + F3 or Fn + F4).
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or two. Thanks for reading.
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