Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Sony Vaio E-Series notebook

So I recently got a new notebook. It's been a couple of weeks playing with it, and I decided to review it here. It's one of the Sony Vaio EA-Series notebook PCs. The exact model is VPCEA54FG.


So far, I just love it. It's powerful, cheap and beautiful. With the snazzy colors available, there's one for everyone. Let's get into the pros, cons and other details.

Pros and Cons:


  • Cost: The E-Series laptops come in a mid-range price, while being so good. I got mine in India for about $1000. 
  • Perfect performance: We'll get into the specs later, but performance is something remarkable here. Everything's snappy and booting is less than a minute (including user account log on).
  • Looks: The E-Series are really stylish computers. They come in snazzy day-glo colors. There's also a black and a white one if you want. You can even customize your body color, keyboard color and the pattern on the lid as well as the wrist rest if you get it at SonyStyle.
  • Battery life: This laptop is more of a desktop replacement than a portable powerhouse. Though it probably won't restrain you from traveling with it, the battery life is okay, depending on your preferences. More about this later.
  • Other small things: I have problems with small nitty-gritties that I wrote about in a comment. I have linked to it at the end of the article.
Some people may say that the sound is bad, and the speaker is low and tinny. But disagree. I find the speakers loud and awesome, although it required tinkering with the settings a bit (I'll explain it in an article later).

These were the basic pros and cons. I'm not going into the details here. Read on.

Full Review:

Here are the exact specs of my particular model:
  • CPU: Intel Core i3 370M @ 2.40GHz
  • RAM: 4.0 GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 532MHz
  • Video Card: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470; 512 MB dedicated memory
  • Hard Drive: Toshiba 320 GB @ 5400RPM
  • Disc Drive: Optiarc DVD RW AD-7710H
  • OS: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
These specs are pretty good, especially the video card, the price being considered. This is a mainstream laptop at a mid-range price.

Credit: Ubergizmo
The laptop is quite new, by the way, but it's pretty fast and snappy. Everything works in a snap. I haven't timed it yet, but I feel that this computer boots in about a minute. This includes the loading of my user account, until everything is ready to use. I also notice that even when other users are logged in, my account runs perfect.

As I said before, the E-Series laptops are glossy and stylish. When walking with it in public, you'll surely turn a few heads. Especially with the Caribbean Green, I guess. I have the Iridescent Blue one, by the way. The keyboard is spacious. And I like the chiclet keyboard. My model does not have a number pad like some of the larger ones. The touchpad is rough, and feels good under your fingers. I'd like it better, however, if it was glossy like the rest of the hand rest. The body does not have a lot of lights like my previous HP laptop, but he bright color compensates, of course.

I particularly like the way all the brandings and stickers, including the VAIO on the lid drop a shadow on the body, them being on a glossy plastic covering. It looks cool.

Connectivity, Screen and Graphics
There are loads of connectivity options on the E-Series laptop. There are four USB ports on the laptop. One of them doubles as an eSATA port. There's an HDMI out, VGA out, and a DVD (RW) drive. Some models have a Blu-Ray drive too, if you'd like. There's an ethernet port too, of course. There's an ExpressCard reader, and separate SD and Memory Stick readers, with support for HG ones. There's Bluetooth in there, which is pretty much standard now, and there is  Wi-Fi with wireless-N too.

Credit: stepup21
I love the screen. The graphics card makes it even better. My model is equipped with an ATi, as I said earlier. Some versions come with Intel HD video cards too. The screen is glossy, so if you regularly touch it, it will become really smudgy. Also, glossy has awesome looks, but there is glare. I don't think the glare problem is as severe as some reviewers point out. I don't find it obtrusive, but I have yet to use this laptop in the sun, so I don't know. Everything runs clear and perfect. The screen is really bright too. I have to keep the brightness less than halfway normally. Some reviews say that this laptop is not built for gaming, but I have had a great experience with gaming here. I haven't played a lot of games, but whatever I ran, the computer handled perfectly. DVD playback was awesome too.

Volume and Battery Life
Most reviewers online have talked about the poor quality of sound with this laptop. But I disagree with them. I particularly like the sound. When I first got the computer, the sound was a bit low, but I found a couple of tweaks to make it pretty loud. And I enjoy it now. I'll probably write a post (UPDATED!) on this sometime soon. The speakers are great, and I love the perfect left and right surround, even though the speaker is on the main body, above the keyboard. Though it appears that the speakers cover the entire section, closer examination will reveal that the actual speakers are actually pretty tiny.

UPDATE: Sony actually says that the battery on these models last for about 4-5 hours and they are right about it. The battery life is okay. I have explained this in detail from experience in this comment.

Battery life is okay, but comparatively bad here. Nowadays, you get more than 5 hours of battery life on laptops. The E-Series laptops run for about 3.5 hours according to Sony, at default settings. I was able to squeeze out a lot more than that, even though the screen wasn't really dark, and the power mode was Balanced. I'm quite okay with the battery life. I can take this laptop to school. I didn't try watching a movie on battery, but I did play a simple, but moderately graphics intensive game on it. It ran for a really long time. I got bored with the game before the battery died.

Other Things
This is a new section that I have added after using this laptop for about half a year. I added to this review in this comment below. You will want to read it.
The bottom line
Overall, this is an amazing, affordable mainstream laptop that best suits doing household work, like surfing the web, photo and video editing, maybe, gaming or even watching a movie. But it sure isn't as powerful as the high-end laptops out there. Take the Vaio Z-Series, for example. 

The battery life may not suit some people, but it's still okay. The speakers are low by default, but it can be fixed. The looks are snazzy. If you like vibrancy and style, get one of these!

See also:
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