Sony VAIO Fit 15E review

17 Sep 2013

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

Price when reviewed 
559
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £466
Price inc VAT £559
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 379 x 259 x 29mm (WDH)
Weight 2.410kg
Travelling weight 2.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i3-3227U
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 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Battery capacity 2,670mAh
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

USB ports (downstream) 2
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad, touchscreen
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.9mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 25min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 29fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.56
Responsiveness score 0.76
Media score 0.55
Multitasking score 0.36

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8