For performance comparison we've used the Samsung R580 and HP Pavilion dv6-2113sa, both of which walked away with Recommended Awards recently. While the spec of the Sony is broadly similar to that of the Samsung, the E Series benefits from a 64-bit OS and this is reflected in the seven per cent advantage in the overall PCMark Vantage result.
We're far from convinced you'll notice this difference in real-world use, though, and given the Sony costs over £100 more we'd expect a greater advantage. It's still a perfectly capable performer, but for the money it doesn't really shine and we recently spied a version of the HP Pavilion dv6 (DV6-2105EA) with a faster Core i5 processor for just £640.
It's a similar story in the gaming benchmarks. While the Sony doesn't embarrass itself, it hardly sets the world alight either. In fact in the Trackmania Nations tests it's the slowest of the three, albeit at a playable 36.7fps, only to reverse this by being the fastest in the more demanding STALKER: Call of Pripiyat test. In any case it should do decent service for casual gaming, but anything beyond that is stretching things a mite.
This solid, but not outstanding, performance is concluded in our battery life tests. Again the Sony performs similarly to the Samsung R580 here, but given it weighs 2.35kg and is smaller in size - and is therefore more portable - we'd like a little more than the 199 minutes (3hrs, 19mins) of Productivity it managed. Another of Sony's 14in laptops, the CW Series, lasted four hours when we reviewed it last year, which is much closer to our expectations.
Ultimately, then, the E Series lives and dies on the quality of its display: it's the only stand-out feature. If quality and resolution are particularly important to you then the E Series instantly attains greater value, but we'd wager that those who care about such things mightn't be as keen on Sony's garish/bold (delete as appropriate) colour designs.
This is another good laptop from Sony that lives up to its reputation for good quality design. It also benefits from an excellent display, but for the money its performance doesn't quite live up to expectations.