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Sony Vaio E Series VPC-EA1Z1E/B

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      20.08.2011 09:43
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      A great little machine

      ==Introduction==
      In September I will be going to University to do a degree in Computing Science so I decided to purchase a good quality laptop. I was instantly drawn to the Sony VAIO range as I think all of Sony's products are top of the line. The Sony PlayStation 3, for example, is the most powerful of the generation 7 consoles (Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3). I chose this laptop as it had a 500GB hard drive with 4GB of memory, and had a Blu-Ray player. It was the best on offer in Argos, however it was also the most expensive, retailing at £899.99. Luckily I didn't have to pay for it - my gran paid for it with money she'd be saving up for my University tuition (she'd started saving before the Scottish government decided to pay the tuition fees of Scottish students).

      I've had two of these laptops, one had to be returned which I'll talk about in more detail below. I got the current one in November 2010 and it's done very well. There's very little I can fault it on. Pretty much all I want to review about the laptop comes under one of the specific criteria, so as I've done in the past, I'm going to expand on each of my ratings and hopefully that will give you a good picture of the laptop as a whole.

      ==Specifications==
      These are the specifications of my system, the hardware of which has not been upgraded in any way since purchase.

      *Processor: Intel Core i3 CPU, 2.13GHz
      *RAM: 4.00GB (3.86GB usable)
      *System Type: 64-bit operative system
      *Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium
      *Hard Drive: 500GB
      *Blu-ray Disk Drive (reads blu-rays, reads and writes to DVDs and CDs)

      It's Windows Experience Index is as follows:
      *Processor: 6.2
      *Memory (RAM): 5.9
      *Graphics: 4.9
      *Gaming graphics: 6.2
      *Primary hard disk: 5.8

      This gives a base score of 4.9. The scores are on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9 so the two 6.2s are really good, especially for a laptop. I've had desktop PCs which had lower scores than that.

      ==Specific Features==
      ===Speed===
      Even with loads and loads of software packed into it, it's still quite fast. My last laptop took ages to load and one day I timed it at 2 minutes 12 seconds. I decided to time this laptop today and from pressing the power switch to the log on screen loading up, it took 16 seconds. It can however, be relatively slow in other areas. For example, I use Visual Studio which is a programming environment and requires a lot of processing power and memory. It runs a lot faster on my VAIO than on even my desktop, but it still freezes occasionally and if I'm doing multiple things (e.g. watching a video on youtube at the same time) it can slow it down considerably.

      ===Look & Feel===
      I think it's got a quite nice look. The deep black colour means it doesn't need cleaned that often as smudges don't really show up on it. The keyboard, buttons, trackpad, microphone and webcam are laid out in the same way as any other laptop. Unlike other laptops I've had though, the power light is directly beside the power button. It's solid green when it's on, flashing green when power is low and flashing orange when on stand by.

      I also quite like the feel. I like to rest my arms on the laptop and there's plenty of room next the track pad and no buttons you can brush up against. The layout of the ports, slots and blu-ray player is quite good. They've managed to fit three USB ports, one SATA/USB port, one HDMI port, one external display port, one express card port, one Memory Stick PRO Duo slot and one SD card slot, plus a microphone and headphone jack.

      ===Comfort & Portability===
      I take my VAIO everywhere with me. I use it all the time on the train to Glasgow and even take it to the woods and connect to the internet via my mobile phone, using the in built bluetooth.

      ===Robustness & Durability===
      In December, I was adjusting the screen on my laptop as the sun was reflecting off it and I couldn't see anything. While I was gently moving it back and forward, the LCD display cracked. It cost £150 to replace it (which took 3 months, but that was down to the incompetent people I took it too). I've had 5 laptops prior to this one and not one of the LCD screens has broken as easily as this one.

      ===Value For Money===
      This model is quite expensive but it's well worth it. A blu-ray player can cost around £200 on it's own and a basic Mac book, which isn't as good as this model, is about the same price.

      ===Ease of Use===
      The laptop sets up almost entirely by itself. I've found it really simple to use, but others might have some difficulties.

      ===Range of Extra Features===
      There are several extra features I love about this laptop but I'm not going to go into detail with all of them.

      The feature I like most is the WEB button, close to the power button. If you press it while the laptop is off, it starts the built in web browser which loads quite quickly and reduces power consumption as no other software is launched. I use it when I only need the laptop to check something online or get help with homework, or just want to watch a video on youtube. I've found it really useful but the one drawback I've found is that it doesn't let you open multiple windows and if you've got a lot of tabs open, it can be hard to keep track of them all. If you press the button while the laptop is on, it loads your home page.

      Another button I quite like is the ASSIST button. Pressing it while the system is off it starts the laptop with the system's recovery software, allowing you to reformat the hard drive, load restore points, etc. Pressing it when the laptop is on loads VAIO Care, which has several useful features for looking after your VAIO. The VAIO Status looks for problems, such as not having all updates installed or out of date anti-virus definitions. There's also a system tune up which looks for and repairs any problems. The diagnostics can be used to check whether there's problems with the software and hardware. There's even a contact Sony option which lets you email Sony and gives you their contact numbers which I've found very useful.

      The feature I like best is the built in bluetooth. I've used bluetooth dongles with my PCs in the past but I've never had built in bluetooth and I've found it really useful. I took a trip to Inverness in May and I stayed in a hostel where there was free Wi-Fi but it was constantly breaking so I used the internet on my phone via a bluetooth connection.

      ===Instruction Manual===
      There are two instruction manuals. One which tells you very basically what the laptop does and a very complex one only for the technically minded. I had no use for either, already knowing how to use a laptop, however I have used the laptop's built in documentation, which is integrated into the Help and Support feature and provides better support than Microsoft's version as it includes help with features specific to this laptop.

      ===Manufacturer Support===
      The support from Sony is brilliant. I get regular updates sent for all of the VAIO software on the laptop, great online support and there's a one year warranty.

      I've had to have the laptop replaced, as it had suddenly stopped working. Sony took it and discovered it had water damage. Obviously this isn't covered by the warranty but they sent it back to Argos, where I bought it from and because Sony had done such a thorough investigation, I was able to claim straight away on my extended warranty, which I'd bought when I got the laptop. I got a replacement within days.

      ==Would I recommend it to a friend?==
      Definitely. If you can afford it this model is well worth the money. And if you can afford this model, you should definitely invest in a cheaper VAIO as they're excellent machines. It's really fast, got plenty of memory, packed full of extra features and is very easy to use. The only downside I can think of is it's robustness.

      ===Updates===
      *'''05/08/2011''' - Added some screenshots
      *'''07/08/2011''' - Seven new images of the laptop.

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      13.10.2010 15:24

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      A stylish, fast laptop which runs everything I've thrown at it so far.

      As with most Sony Laptops, the new VPC-EA1Z1E/B is a quality product. I immediately noticed the lightness of the laptop which was surprising given the size. The screen is exceptionally good, very vibrant compared to my old Sony VGN-FZ180E. It is a stylish laptop with great performance. I personally use the device as a portable design solution and found it to run Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash CS4 well and all ran together so multitasking is taken in its stride with this laptop. I have managed to burn a few discs which worked well also. I find the new Core i3 330M processor to be a great improvement in performance and the 4GB or ram and 500GB hard drive means I will be able to keep this laptop for a few years before having to upgrade. The only problem I have noticed is the battery life which I only managed to get 1 hour 4 minutes from while watching a movie on the train. Overall though, A great device and another quality product from Sony.

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      13.10.2010 14:50

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      Overall it is a really good notebook.

      Sony Vaio E Series (VPC-EA1S1E/L) looks good. It is stylish and smart looking. Quality is ok. It is easy to use. Picture and Video quality is good. Built in camera is great.

      It has a Intel Core i3-330M processor. Processor clock speed is 2.13GHz. There are 2 memory slots which are occupied by 4GB of RAM. Maximum memory that can be used is 4GB. It's a really wide notebook with a size of 345x239x27mm. Its total size is 2.4KG. Sound card is of Realtek High Definition Audio. A touchpad Is used for pointing mouse cursor. It has a display of 14 inch. Native resolution that can be used is 1,600x900. There's a built in graphics processor of ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5145. There are two graphics video ports, one is for VGA and the other for HDMI. Graphics memory is 512MB. A lot of storage is provided, in total there is 5000GB available. Optical drive type available is DVD+/-RW +/-DL and the model is Optiarc AD-7585H. There are 4 USB Ports. Bluetooth is included. Wireless networking support is available.

      Overall it's a really good notebook for people who like to carry a movie theater or gaming zone in their bags.

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      11.10.2010 13:15
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      Great performance, great for entertainment gaming, buy the extended battery

      I purchased this laptop as an upgrade from a HP that i have had for a few years. The Vaio E series has been a great purchase. I use it for gaming and the Mobility Radeon HD 5145 graphics card produces a quality performance. The 4gig Ram processor has also been easily able to handle those demands. At 14inch wide screen it is also a great laptop for multimedia purposes, such as was watching DVDS while traveling.

      As with all Vaio's the design is sleek and classy and i love the raised buttons on the keyboard, which you dont seem to find on most other brands of pc laptops(macbook style)

      I have had one problem so far with the laptop. Soon after i got it the fan clogged with dirt. Sony were quick to identify and send someone to fix this problem. It was probably my own fault although i have never had this problem with any other laptops in the past.

      The one negative is my battery is awful. I don't know if i got a faulty one but it literally lasts 20min max, when it was brand new it was lasting 1hr or so. Luckily even when traveling i never have to use battery power as trains,planes etc now have power sockets, BUT if i was for any reason forced to try to run on battery power, this laptop on the current battery would be literally useless to me. If you intent to use it on just battery i would suggest upgrading to the extended life battery when you buy.

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        09.10.2010 22:33

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        The overall performance from the AMD dual-core processor is without a doubt a little disappointing

        It's simply not an athlete of a machine, however if intended for standard browsing and simple computing tasks, the E-series can actually be a pleasant option.
        In my opinion it's got an excellent high-resolution widescreen display
        Streamlined design
        Built-in Tv for pc tuner
        Powerful graphics
        Slightly on the pricey side
        Ordinary productivity performance
        Sluggish Blu-ray burning
        Limited battery life
        Tiny touchpad keys
        Sub-par performance
        Trackpad buttons feel a little low quality
        Absense of Bluetooth on board.
        The line-up of ports is not very bad
        It has neither ExpressCard slot nor eSata port, consequently the possibilities for expansion are rather limited
        The overall performance from the AMD dual-core processor is without a doubt a little disappointing
        As stated earlier, if you are shopping for a notebook which can undertake much less strenuous tasks at the same time look stylish, it may be a good choice.
        Whilst there is certainly no doubting the elegance of the Sony Vaio E-series VPC-EE2E1E/WI and especially at its affordable price tag
        The Sony Vaio E-series hard drive is reasonably large at 320GB, and there's a built-in DVD writer as well as both SD Card and memory stick reader

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        09.09.2010 14:46
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        Beautiful machine let down by inferior specs

        Sony Vaio laptops have a great reputation for style, and this model is no exception. It's available in a range of colours and has a lovely LED status light - green for on, orange for standby - that is also the power button and merges into the side so even when the machine is closed you can see if it's still on or not.

        I liked the turquoise model best, the mousepad is also turquoise and the whole thing is a design dream. But my husband started muttering about how he should also be allowed to use it in public and so we have a basic black one *grumbles*.

        Underneath its beautiful exterior, it has an Intel Core i3-330M processor and 4GB of RAM, and while the processor's pretty good I think the RAM's a bit stingy. If you're only running one application at a time it's ok, but I like Word, Firefox and a music player to run at the same time and this sexy little laptop struggles.

        Screen quality is pretty good; you wouldn't want to do serious gaming on it but watching movies is great - you can watch them in HD too, and I think there's a similar model to this that also does Blu-ray for about £100 more. Having said that, if there are two of you watching you need to be snugglers: the screen can be hard to position so you're not getting those weird shadows.

        The speakers are fine too, not brilliant but good enough to watch a movie or listen to music.

        Where this model falls down depressingly low is battery life. Three hours is just not long enough any more, it won't even get you through the wait for a long haul flight, never mind the flight itself. And I've not been able to find spare batteries for sale. It comes pre-installed with SplashTop for people who just want the internet and not to boot up the whole machine. A nice idea, but unless you've stuffed your 4GB full it saves barely any time at all and is really heavy on the power. Which, as I said, is limited.

        At 2.4kg it's light enough to be ideal for travel - except that the battery means you really can't take it anywhere you won't be at a plug. And it's not good enough in my opinion to justify the pricetag, which is around £650. If you're looking for a pretty, basic machine and don't plan to make it work hard, this might be the one for you. If you need it to actually perform, keep looking.

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