Sony VAIO EE2 review

11 Jun 2010

Sony’s E Series is just as good as ever, but AMD’s Vision spectacularly fails to excite

Price when reviewed 
489
3

In recent years, AMD has struggled to compete with Intel’s dominance in the laptop market. But given the sheer enthusiasm with which it’s launched its Vision 2010 platform, that may be all about to change. Sony is the first major manufacturer to usher AMD’s Vision platform into its range, and this, the EE2E1E/WI, aims to bring a bit of Sony style to the budget laptop arena.

Make no mistake, this AMD-powered E-series is aimed squarely at the budget end of the market. Sony has plumped for the entry-level Vision platform, pairing a dual-core Athlon II P320 processor running at 2.1GHz with an integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics chipset.

After the excitement of Intel’s Core i3, though, the performance of this AMD partnership will come as a disappointment. Where the Core i3-330M in the identikit chassis of Sony’s VPC-EB1S0E clocked an impressive 1.35 in our application benchmarks, the AMD-powered model barely scraped 1.01 overall.

Sony VAIO EE2

Graphics performance marks a tiny improvement on Intel’s HD integrated effort, but it’s nowhere near enough to redeem AMD Vision’s low-end duo. The ATI Radeon HD 4200 struggled through our lowest-quality Crysis test at an average frame-rate of 21 frames per second, barely two frames per second faster.

Any hopes that the AMD partnership might major on power efficiency are swiftly dashed, too. Even sitting idle the Sony stopped just short of the three-hour mark, finishing our light-use test in 2hrs 53mins. Pushing the processor to its modest limits, meanwhile, drained the 3,500mAh battery in just 1hr 8mins.

As you might anticipate, at just £416 exc VAT the EE2E1E/WI is a decidedly no-frills affair. But despite the low price and the AMD Vision sticker proudly proclaiming the hardware inside, the E-series’ charms are enough to distract from the performance limitations. It comes as no surprise to find luxuries such as a high-definition screen, Blu-ray drive or even a dedicated graphics chipset are missing, but if you’re expecting a boring, nondescript 15.5in laptop best hidden away from design-conscious eyes, you’re in for a surprise.

Emerging resplendent in a combination of white and silver, all smooth curves and neat, unfussy design, this is one budget laptop that doesn’t wear its price tag on its sleeve. The glossy white wrist-rest gleams with a subtle sparkle, and the two-tone silver and white design looks far classier than much of the competition.

Details

Price ex VAT £416
Price inc VAT £489
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 369 x 250 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 2.600kg
Travelling weight 3.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor AMD Athlon II P320
Motherboard chipset AMD M880G
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.5in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD4200
Graphics card RAM N/A
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 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Samsung HM321HI
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-L633C
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 no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
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 2hr 53min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 8min
Overall application benchmark score 1.01
Office application benchmark score 1.00
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.14
Encoding application benchmark score 0.88
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.03
3D performance (crysis) low settings 21fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs