The Sony VAIO E series is one of the most affordable Sony VAIO laptop lines, offering plenty of the style and features of more expensive VAIO machines, at a knockdown price point. And now, with a 14-inch screen, it could prove to be the perfect, portable all-rounder. Find out if it really is in this part of our Sony VAIO E review.
Read the rest of our Sony VAIO E review:
Sony VAIO E review: Size and looks
Sony VAIO E review: HD video skills and multimedia
Sony VAIO E review: Core i3 speed and performance
The Sony VAIO E is a cheap and cheerful laptop with an unusual 14-inch screen size, sharing loads of the design aspects with high-end Sony kit, and at £649, offering it to those of us with smaller budgets. If you need a bigger laptop, the VAIO E Series also offers 15.6 and 17-inch models, with all machines featuring the latest Intel Core chips, but we tested the smallest size.
As you may have noticed, our Sony VAIO E review model was finished in a retina-burning shade of pink – it’s definitely not to all tastes, but it makes a nice change from the hoards of drab machines out there, and you’ll also be able to choose from green, blue, or a slightly more conservative white or black.
While the pink and green shades are love or loath it affairs, the rest of the colours in the Sony VAIO E series line up are refreshing and attractive, and complement the curved lines and pattered finish perfectly. You’ll also find a subtle pattern on the lid and palm rests of the Sony VAIO E series.
Unlike some of the Sony VAIO E rivals, which feature skinny designs in order to maximize portability, the Sony VAIO E has a relatively chunky profile, measuring over an inch in depth. It’s not really a hindrance when carrying the machine about, as it’s still a relatively compact machine with a semi-portable 2.4kg weight, but it may result in you carrying a book or two less in your laptop bag.
The 14-inch chassis is the perfect size for the interface – there are no compromises when it comes to the keyboard, and the touchpad is also respectably sized. The contrasting black of the keyboard looks great, and the keyboard itself features Sony’s now standard isolated style. Each of the keys stick up through individual holes in the casing, offering loads of space between them, and they’re perfectly weighted and very responsive.
You’ll also be able to take advantage of several dedicated hotkeys above the keyboard, launching a web browsing application outside of Windows for quick start up, a dedicated multimedia application and Sony’s VAIO Assist software, making it easy to restore the machine to its factory settings in the event of any issues.
As with most of its siblings in the VAIO range, the Sony VAIO E suffers slightly with the location of some of its ports, with three of the four USB ports situated on the very front right hand corner of the chassis. The problem with this becomes apparent when you try and connect a couple of bulky peripherals, such as a TV tuner or memory stick, where it’s all too easy for at least one of the ports to be blocked.
The fourth USB port also doubles as an eSATA interface, letting you connect external hard drives at high speeds, and there are both VGA and HDMI ports for watching standard and high-definition movies on bigger screens. Sony’s irritating Memory Stick format is supported, with a card reader on the front of the chassis, but thankfully the more common SD cards are also supported, so whatever consumer camera you own, you’ll be able to check out your snaps on a bigger screen wherever you go with the 14-inch Sony VAIO E in your bag.
Overall, we really like the Sony VAIO E, not least because of its 14-inch form factor. With most manufacturers putting effort into producing slightly too small 13.3-inch, or hefty 15.6-inch models, the Sony VAIO E is a refreshing change, and although it’s still portable enough to take on the commute, it’s also perfectly suited to replacing your desktop PC.