Sony VAIO EB1Z0E review

28 Jun 2010

Fusing power, panache and high-definition entertainment, Sony's 15.5in EB1Z0E is a star in the making

Price when reviewed 
780
5

The latest offering from Sony’s EB-series makes a striking first impression. Finished all in black, and replete with gloss and matte highlights, the Sony EB1Z0E seizes the attention before it’s even found its way to the nearest mains socket.

Never mind that dark, brooding exterior, however; the real show starts when you boot up Windows and clock the resolution. Other models of around this size stick at 1,366 x 768, but the VAIO EB1Z0E's 15.5in panel goes right up to a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080.

This makes desktop icons and text rather tiny (you may want to bump up the DPI in Windows 7), but it works wonders for HD video. Pop a Blu-ray disc into the built-in drive - a definite luxury considering the keen asking price - and the picture is incredibly sharp, with rich, deep colour. It's an experience cheapened only by the speakers, which simply can't produce the low frequencies required for a really cinematic experience.

Thanks to a built-in ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5740 GPU you can use this awesome screen for gaming too - although an average of 17fps in our Medium quality Crysis test suggests you'll have to scale the effects back if you want to play at HD resolutions.

Sony VAIO EB1Z0E

Media capabilities may be the VAIO EB1Z0E's trump card, but it won't let you down when it comes to mundane desktop tasks. With its Core i5-430M processor and 4GB of RAM it outpaces many of its mid-priced rivals, achieving an overall 2D benchmark score of 1.56. It boasts a healthy selection of ports and slots, and a solid frame and ergonomic keyboard too. You also get Bluetooth and a larger 500GB hard disk.

The only technical shortcoming is battery life: a high resolution screen like this can devour energy at a shocking rate, and in our heavy-use test the VAIO EB1Z0E chewed through a whole battery in just 56 minutes. Light-use performance was near the back of the pack too, at 3hrs 17mins, although given its increased screen specification over the competition that's not too bad.

The Sony VAIO EB1Z0E can’t rival the more frugally equipped competition in the value for money stakes, so if you don't want a high resolution screen - or if you regularly need to work on the move - it makes sense to look elsewhere. But for a home user who'll enjoy the extra desktop space and welcome Blu-ray’s starring role, it will prove simply irresistible.

Details

Price ex VAT £664
Price inc VAT £780
Overall rating 6
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 6

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 370 x 248 x 31mm (WDH)
Weight 2.570kg
Travelling weight 3.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-430M
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 15.5in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5740
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 Hitachi HTS545050B9SA00
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive Optiarc BC-5500S4
Battery capacity 3,500mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
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 1
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 17min
Battery life, heavy use 56min
Overall application benchmark score 1.56

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 none