Processor: Intel Core i5-3210M (2.5GHz) - Ivy Bridge, dual-core... not bad, performance-wise
13.3" screen, 16:9 aspect ratio... also not bad, but the issue here is the resolution. 1366 x 768... well, it's not 1920x1080 (I believe it's a bit harder to get 1080p screens with a 13.3" diagonal, but I might be wrong on it... I'm not expert on screen.)
Graphics is also an issue; Intel HD 4000 is not bad for everyday tasks, but for the highest specs for gaming, look elsewhere.
Memory equipped is 4GB DDR3 (fixed onboard), but the option is nice to expand to 12GB. Recommended to buy new modules when you can find good deals on them. Extra memory doesn't always help with tasks and programs, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have it available.
Another limiting factor is the hard drive: at both 500GB SATA as well as 5400rpm speed, it's on the low-end of storage solutions.
At least it's got a DVD-RW drive on it... hey, and a multi-format card reader!
Standard Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, and Bluetooth 4.0+HS (the latest in BT tech, I believe).
WiDi is a nice option, but it's not perfect either.
5h battery life, not bad.
It's got the minimum number of ports for today's tasks: 1 HDMI slot, 2 USB 3.0's, a (sleep-and-) charge USB 2.0 is available.
Another limiting factor: Windows 8, however it IS 64-bit, which is always nice. Just either gotta get used to 8 or get another PC.
Light at 3.8lbs.
Overall, its specs could be had for $400-450. The rise in cost comes from the prestige of the "SONY" branding. SONY has quality laptops, actually, even though they diversify in all sorts of electronics. I'm sure for $550, you can get a newer SONY, or for a little more, get better specs.