Sony’s new 15.5-inch VAIO E Series promises style, performance, and multimedia prowess at recession-conscious prices. Though our $919 configuration is a bit steep, this machine provides more than ample performance to serve as an all-purpose family PC that surfs the Web, plays Blu-ray movies and games, and looks great in your den, kitchen, or living room. However, short battery life and tinny speakers hold this system back.
If you want a notebook with a conservative look that will fade into the wallpaper, don’t buy the VAIO E Series. However, if you desire a colorful, exciting design that really turns heads, the VAIO E is for you. However, it's not made for road warriors. At 14.6 x 9.8 x 1.2 inches thick and 6.0 pounds, the VAIO E is more at home on your desk than on your lap or your airline tray table.
The notebook is available in the relatively conservative Coconut White, Gunmental Black, and Black Sand or the louder Hibiscus Pink, Caribbean Green and Iridiscent Blue (metallic teal). The shiny lid and deck feature gradient patterns, while the bezel, sides, and bottom all have a metallic hue. Our review unit’s Iridescent Blue color, combined with the green status lights and hot pink writing on the Assist button, reminded us of the television show Miami Vice.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The 103-key island-style keyboard includes a numeric keypad and plenty of room for your hands. The keys offer an acceptable but unimpressive level of tactile feedback, with no noticeable flex. Using the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, we were able to achieve a strong score of 86 words per minute with a 1-percent error rate, better than our typical rate of 80 words per minute.
Rather than sitting in the middle of the deck, the VAIO E's touchpad is positioned left of center and directly beneath the space bar. This positioning takes some getting used to, as does the high-friction surface on the pad. In our testing, we found navigating around the desktop to be a little jerky because of the rough pad. We were also disappointed to find that the touchpad does not appear to support multitouch gestures. The two discrete mouse buttons offered just the right amount of feedback.