Sleek, modern design; Great audio; Solid performance and graphics; Professional grade multimedia creation/editing software
Screen a bit dim; Shorter battery life than other 15-inch notebooks; Keyboard has some flex; Lackluster webcam
The Sony VAIO E Series 15.5-inch offers an attractive design, Ivy Bridge power and powerful multimedia software.
As Sony's first mainstream notebook with an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, the $699 Sony VAIO E Series 15.5-inch makes a statement. Combining a sophisticated design with a 15-inch display and a slew of audio and video-editing apps, the E15 is sure to be a favorite with media creators and consumers.
The notebook will also be available in Sharkskin Black and Seafoam White for those that want a splash of color.
The touchpad is slightly submerged with a slim, delicat e chrome border.
At 5.4 pounds and measuring 14.7 x 10 x 1-1.32 inches, the VAIO E15 is about average in size and weight for a mainstream system.
Display and Audio
Unfortunately, this panel just isn't very bright. We measured 141 lux, compared with 274 lux for the average mainstream machine.
Listening to music, movies and news on the E15 was a blast. The two speakers easily filled our small testing room with crisp, clear audio. We coasted along with Chaka Khan's luxurious vocals buoyed by swelling melodic strings on "My Funny Valentine." We were disappointed at the lack of percussion in Gloria Estefan's rendition of "Turn The Beat Around," however. It disappeared behind the clear twang of the guitar dipping and darting of Estefan's bombastic delivery.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The 3.9 x 2.2-inch Synaptics clickpad provided a large area for multitouch gestures. Two-finger scroll, pinch-to-zoom and two-finger rotation were swift and smooth. Four-finger flick was one of the more useful features, displaying all of our open programs in a clear box or on a horizontal plane depending on whether we swiped up or down.
Despite the lack of discrete mouse buttons, the bottom half of the touchpad offered strong feedback and accurately performed right-click and left-click functions when we pressed the corresponding sides.
After running a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes, the E15 remained fairly cool, measuring 83 degrees Fahrenheit at the touchpad. The space between the G and H keys and the center bottom of the notebook registered 85 and 87 degrees respectively. We consider anything higher than 95 degrees to be too warm.
The 1.3 megapixel camera captures images in 2560 x 2048 and video in 1280 x 1024 using the ArcSoft WebCam Companion. Whether we were in natural or florescent light, the camera delivered severely grainy images with dull, listless colors.
The Sony VAIO E Series 15.5-inch delivers solid, but not spectacular performance by way of its 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-3210M (Ivy Bridge) processor, 6GB of RAM, 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive, and Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. It scored 2,452 on PCMark07, slightly above the 2,296 mainstream category average. During the Geekbench test, the E15 notched an impressive 7,090.
The notebook booted the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium in 50 seconds, seven seconds faster than the average. During the File Transfer Test, the E15 duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 3 minutes and 41 seconds for a transfer rate of 23MBps. That's 10.1 MBps below the 33.1MBps category average.
On the OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, the VAIO E15 took 4 minutes and 48 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses, soundly beating the 6:26 average.
Although the VAIO E15 is equipped with the more powerful Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU, don't expect to play anything graphically taxing. The notebook notched a score of 5,964 on the synthetic 3DMark06 benchmark. That's 877 points above the 5,087 mainstream category average.
When we ran the "World of Warcraft" test, the E15 delivered a frame rate of 56 fps on Good at 1366 x 768p, placing it slightly above the 50 fps category average. When we cranked the game to maximum, the frame rate dropped to 23 fps, a tad short of the 26 mainstream average.
Those looking to play the latest games will want to spring for AMD Radeon HD 7550 graphics, a $100 option.
Sony packages the VAIO E15 with a robust suite of programs for professional-grade multimedia creation and editing. Acid Music Studio 8 enables multitrack and MIDI recording, and works best with loop-based music creation so you can create your own Girl Talk-inspired jams. Sound Forge Audio Studio 10 enables pro-level editing and mastering of audio files. Filmmakers will appreciate Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11, and DVD Architect Studio 5 will help you burn those projects to professional looking DVDs.
Sony-branded apps include VAIO Care, VAIO Control Center and VAIO Gate, a handy shortcut bar that displays shortcuts. One of those goes to PlayMemories Home, which enables users to edit and organize images and photos in one, easy-to-access location. Images and videos in PlayMemories Home can be accessed across devices and shared with friends via PlayMemories Online, an online storage account that offers 5GB of free storage. Other shortcuts include VAIO Collaboration Apps (Remote Keyboard, Remote Play for PlayStation 3 and TrackID with Bravia) and Media Gallery.
VAIO Gesture Control works in conjunction with Media Go, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and Media Gallery. Using the webcam, users simply hold their hands in front of the webcam and swipe left, right, up and down for Back, Forward, Pause and Play, respectively. Due to the webcam's narrow field of vision, we met with failure more often than not when we attempted to change a song or image. After numerous tries, our wrist became sore and we switched back to the touchpad.
Third-party apps include Skype, Microsoft Office Starter, Windows Live, Reader for PC, Adobe Reader X, Evernote for VAIO and a 30-day free trial of Kaspersky Internet Security 2012.
The Sony VAIO E Series 15.5-inch comes with a one-year Limited Warranty. See how Sony fared in our Best and Worst Brands Report.
Our $699 review unit of the VAIO E15 features a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-3210M (Ivy Bridge) processor, 6GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. The E15 starts at just $449; at that price, consumers will get a second-generation (Sandy Bridge) Intel Core i3-2370M processor, Intel HD graphics 3000, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive.
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|CPU||2.50GHz Intel Core i5-3210M|
|Operating System||MS Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to||8GB|
|Hard Drive Size||750GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive||DVD /- RW|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Wi-Fi Model||Atheros WB225|
|Touchpad Size||3.9 x 2.2-inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||security lock slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Card Slots||Memory Stick Duo|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Warranty/Support||3.9 x 2.2-inches|
|Size||14.65 x x 9.99 x 1.00 - 1.32-inches|