Sony VAIO E Series 14in review

1 Apr 2010

Sony’s smallest VAIO E Series comes in colours that inevitably polarise opinion, but if the styling suits, it's a great little laptop

Price when reviewed: 
674inc VAT
5

For some, the mere sight of that four-letter VAIO logo is enough to inspire irrational desire. But in a world where Sony’s brand cachet alone can loosen wallets, the latest addition to its E Series family, the 14in VAIO VPCEA1S1E/L, is the laptop equivalent of Marmite.

We’d barely plugged it in before the comments began. Two PC Pro writers ambled by, caught sight of the unmissable Sony and, as if struck by lightning, stopped dead on the spot. What one said is wholly unprintable; the other, meanwhile, gave the E Series a loving fumble and cooed appreciatively.

Sony VAIO E Series 14in

Love it or hate it, the eye-popping aqua blue of this VAIO certainly grabs the attention. It’s not often that we find ourselves transfixed by a lid, but the Sony’s is something special. Ripples of tiny, dark dots radiate out from the silver VAIO logo that seemingly floats a few millimetres above. If you’re one of the 43 people worldwide who’ve always longed for a pseudo-holographic effect on the lid of your next laptop, you’re in luck.

The striking blue continues inside. Those darker dots fade through the wristrest, echoed by a strip of pin-pricks sweeping across the top edge of a keyboard that cuts a bold, black swathe through the middle.

Although it's the smallest of Sony's E Series, with a 14in screen, that keyboard is a sensible as it looks. Every key falls nicely under the finger and releases with a dainty click, and while the Sony isn't lightweight at 2.29kg, build quality is well up there with the best in its price bracket. Unlike many portables, the Sony’s lid genuinely seems to guard the TFT panel inside and despite prodding, poking and the most impolite twisting actions, the E Series proved remarkably resilient.

Details

Price ex VAT £574
Price inc VAT £674
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 345 x 238 x 39mm (WDH)
Weight 2.290kg
Travelling weight 2.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i3-330M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD 5145
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9500325AS
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Optiarc AD-7585H
Battery capacity 3,500mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 50min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 13min
Overall application benchmark score 1.27
Office application benchmark score 1.03
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.38
Encoding application benchmark score 1.15
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.54
3D performance (crysis) low settings 53fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied N/A