Sony VAIO E review

The new Sony VAIO E has a matte black finish, comes with useful proprietary software and offers very good multimedia experience.

Design

We may not be huge fans of its monotonous, all-black look, but like the Sony VAIO CW laptop, the Sony VAIO E laptop has a matte finish on its screen lid, with the word VAIO boldly emblazoned at its centre. The VAIO E laptop has no hint of gloss anywhere else on its exterior - no more fingerprints and smudges troubles! The VAIO E is very well built and weighs 2.7-kg - about what you would expect from a 15-inch laptop with a six-cell battery.

Apart from the 15-inch glossy LED-backlit screen, any other semblance of gloss on the VAIO E is confined to a small strip of palmrest, but it isn't overdone and looks just right. Another design highlight of the Sony VAIO E that most laptops don't have is its slightly raised palmrest, with the keyboard situated at a lower level. It aids typing remarkably well, and is wide enough to give your wrists a nice parking place on the laptop. Thoughtful design to say the least.

Hardware Features

The Sony VAIO E is based on an Intel Core i5-520M 2.4-GHz processor with Intel Turbo Boost technology which dynamically allows the CPU to overclock (whenever required) to up to 2.93-GHz.

Additionally, the VAIO E has 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 320GB hard drive, and onboard Intel GMA HD graphics - not a bad set of basic hardware building blocks, if compared to the Lenovo Ideapad Y550, Dell Inspiron 14-1464 or Acer Aspire 5740 laptops. Apart from all the regular input-output ports and a DVD writer, the VAIO E also includes Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, and Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity.

One of the USB ports on the VAIO E conveniently doubles up as an eSATA port - a trend we're seeing increasingly adopted by laptop manufacturers. The VAIO E also comes with an ExpressCard slot, an SDHC card reader, and Sony's proprietary MagicGate Memory Stick Duo reader. Disappointingly, despite its mainstream, all purpose billing, the Sony VAIO E doesn't have a dedicated graphics card.The laptop comes with 64-bit Windows 7 Professional operating system.

The Sony VAIO E also bundles in a bunch of built-in software, out of which VAIO Gate is the most mention-worthy. VAIO Gate resides as an application dock along the top edge of the desktop; it houses all the frequently used programs and applications, including multimedia tools, for quick and easy access, and it's extensively customizable. Media Gallery's a good way to organise and view your photos and other media files, and there's plenty more useful proprietary software on the Sony VAIO E. It isn't all mindless bloatware for sure.

Performance

The Sony VAIO E was tested in the PCWorld.in Labs

Equipped with an Intel Core i5-520M processor, there's no surprise the VAIO E did so well in our benchmarks. WorldBench 6, PC Mark 05, PC Mark Vantage, and Cinebench scores are pretty good for the processor and RAM deployed on the Sony VAIO E. Its onboard Intel GMA HD graphics means you can forget about gaming on the VAIO E - why Sony couldn't pack in a dedicated graphics card is hard to understand.

The VAIO E's glossy screen is good for reading text as well as displaying crisp, vivid cinematic visuals. Watching both 720p and 1080p HD video files was no problem at all on the VAIO E-VPCEB1AGG. Onboard audio on the VAIO E was good for a laptop, nothing outstanding to mention here.

In traditional Sony fashion, the VAIO E comes with an isolated, chiclet styled keyboard which is very good to type on. The trackpad has a fine granular texture to give optimum feedback, and the two separated mouse buttons are pretty good as well. Sony also has few buttons above the keyboard that are pretty useful: Assist - to launch system recovery, Web - one push Web browser -- and they're very easy to find should the need arise.

Battery life, unfortunately, on the Sony VAIO E laptop isn't very good: its six-cell battery failed to last an hour in our benchmark tests (on high performance preset). We reckon you could get about 2 hours 30 minutes while browsing the Web (on power save mode) before plugging in the charger. However, laptop battery shouldn't matter much if you're looking at the VAIO E as a laptop for predominantly home usage.

OUR VERDICT

Bottom Line The Sony VAIO E prices start from £529 (for the 15.5 inch display) and without a dedicated graphics card, we just feel its price is too steep compared to some of its competitors. But having said that, the Sony VAIO E is still a very good performing laptop, with a nice feature set and useful proprietary software. If you want a powerful VAIO for the home, look no further than the Sony VAIO E.