Read our hands-on reviews of the entire VAIO range:
Perhaps you remember – or even own one of – Sony’s incredibly colourful VAIO C Series. Available in neon options like pink, green and orange, these affordable 14in laptops certainly had little difficulty standing out from the crowd. Now, however, Sony has integrated them into the VAIO E Series, so we’re taking a look to see how they’ve weathered the change.
The VAIO E 14 is still a bit more colourful than your average laptop, available in black with red trim, all-white and pink (larger E Series models use other colour combinations). We looked at the pink model, simply because we’re that secure in our masculinity. Like the VAIO C Series before it, the VAIO E14 has matching mobile mice which maintain the laptops’ colour scheme and styling.
The E Series should find quite wide appeal due to their affordable prices and relative portability, and we can see these being particularly popular with design-conscious students. They come with all the basics including an optical drive for watching DVDs and even sport halfway decent dedicated graphics for a bit of gaming.
Naturally, build quality wasn’t in the same league as Sony’s first Ultrabook, the VAIO T13 or of course the even higher-end Series S13, and in fact we’ve come across plastic chassis that felt a lot sturdier too. However, while the super-affordable Lenovo ThinkPad X121e showed us that rugged and durable isn’t limited to premium machines, it’s probably fair to say that the Sony E is average for its class and by no means feels flimsy.
Connectivity is on the good side of average. There’s VGA, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and twin USB 3.0 ports on the left, while the right houses headphone plus microphone jacks, a further two USB ports of the 2.0 variety, and a tray-loading optical drive. Wireless is handled by the same Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4.0 combo we find across Sony’s new laptops.
Unfortunately, the keyboard is where we encounter our first niggle, for while it does provide a decent typing experience there’s quite a lot of flex too, and backlighting is also off the menu. On the other hand we had no significant gripes with the buttonless touchpad.
The VAIO E’s speakers are enhanced by Dolby Home Theatre processing but we had no chance to try them out. The 14in TN screen is a fairly standard affair, with a common 1,366 x 768 resolution, decent but not great viewing angles, and a semi-glossy finish that can cause annoying reflections but does enhance perceived colour vividness and black depth.
Specs is where this affordable VAIO range gets most interesting. Processing duties are handled by anything from a dual-core Sandy Bridge Core i3 backed by 4GB of RAM and a 5,400rpm 500GB hard drive, but somehow Sony still manages to provide the instant resume usually found on machines with SSD or hybrid-SSD storage.
Even better, a dedicated AMD Radeon HD 7670M with 1GB of its own memory comes as standard and shouldn’t be too shabby for very light 3D gaming, so if Sony can keep the price as affordable as the original 14in VAIO C Series, this 14in laptop with up to seven hours of battery life may be an appealing package for the colour-inclined.