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Sony VAIO Fit 15E review

Verdict

Sony successfully revamps its budget laptop range – what the Fit 15E lacks in build quality it more than makes up for with all-round ability

Review Date: 17 Sep 2013

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £466 (£559 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

Sony is no stranger to creating svelte Ultrabooks and flashy hybrid devices, but the VAIO Fit 15E sees it work its design magic on something altogether more ordinary: the budget laptop.

The Fit 15E is as flexible as they come. Hop onto Sony’s website and you can tweak the specification as you wish. The price above includes a touchscreen (an optional £80 extra); adding a backlit keyboard costs £10; a Full HD display adds £80; and there’s a variety of hard disk, CPU and graphics options, too.

Our review model was equipped with one of Intel’s ultra-low-voltage processors, accompanied by 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk. We weren’t expecting blazing performance, but the 1.8GHz Core i3-3217U helped the Sony achieve a perfectly respectable 0.56 in our Real World Benchmarks. The tiny 2,670mAh battery exceeded our expectations, too: the Sony lasted 5hrs 25mins in the light-use battery test.

Sony VAIO Fit 15E

In terms of features, the Sony is fit to burst. Two USB 2 ports on the left flank are accompanied by a DVD writer, and the right-hand edge adds two USB 3 ports, HDMI, 3.5mm audio inputs and outputs and a Gigabit Ethernet socket. Sony has also included single-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 4, and NFC, and there’s a startlingly loud and listenable pair of speakers in the base.

Build quality is squarely in budget territory. There’s a little flex in the base, but our main problem is with the Sony’s lid. Flex it from side to side and there’s a tendency for the plastic panel to click slightly out of place around the right-hand edge. Harder prods on its rear touch the LCD panel and cause ripples on the display.

Still, it has it where it counts. There’s a huge wristrest that partners wonderfully with the Scrabble-tile keyboard above. The keys give way with a cushioned break at the end of every stroke, and are spaced widely enough to minimise mispresses. Initially, we found the buttonless touchpad too twitchy, but knocking the sensitivity down rectified the problem.

Sony VAIO Fit 15E

The 15.5in touchscreen means you don’t need to rely solely on the touchpad. Flicking, pinching and swiping through Windows 8 works brilliantly, and the sheer ease of navigation meant we often forgot the touchpad was even there. And, while the wide bezel might not look pretty, it ensures edge-swipes are easy to activate with the flick of a finger.

Image quality is average, though. The 1,366 x 768 panel isn’t particularly bright, reaching a maximum of only 186cd/m2. Colour accuracy isn’t stunning either, but this manages to reproduce a wider range of colours than many budget laptops we've seen, and our test photos weren’t as washed out and pale as a result.

Sony has delivered a solid all-round budget laptop, and the ability to tailor the specification of the VAIO Fit 15E to any budget is welcome. The build quality could be improved, but with good performance, plenty of features and a usable touchscreen for only £549, this laptop is worth considering.

Author: Sasha Muller

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