Product Type: Sony laptops
Newest Review: ... any problems. The diagnostics can be used to check whether there's problems with the software and hardware. There's even a contact Sony... more
Member Name: tb240904
Sony Vaio E Series VPC-EA1Z1E/B
Advantages: very fast, reliable and easy to use
Disadvantages: not very robust
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.
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:
*Memory (RAM): 5.9
*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.
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.
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.
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.
*'''05/08/2011''' - Added some screenshots
*'''07/08/2011''' - Seven new images of the laptop.
Summary: A great little machine
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