Sony’s VAIO laptop range is one of the most desirable and dependable out there. Including the likes of the slim-yet-powerful Z-Series and the impressively light S-Series, these laptops might be priced over the competition but still offer incredible value.
If you’ve always wanted a VAIO but never quite had the cash, the new VAIO VPCEL1E1E could be the answer. Priced just below the £500 mark, it’s the latest entry in Sony’s entertainment range and one of the most affordable VAIOs we’ve seen.
Sony VAIO VPCEL1E1E: Build Quality
One of the VAIO brand’s strong points is build quality. Sony laptops are generally solidly constructed and the VPCEL1E1E is no exception, with a sturdy frame that can take some punishment. Unfortunately the lid is a weak point, with some serious flex when the centre is pushed down. Make sure you don’t throw anything on top of this laptop or you might do some damage.
We were also a little disappointed by the black patterned design, which lacks the premium quality of more expensive VAIOs. It’s to be expected given the shrunken cost, and perhaps we’re being harsh, but the spark of excitement is missing.
Sony VAIO VPCEL1E1E: Usability
Thankfully Sony has nailed usability, with its usual excellent isolation-style keyboard stretching the width of the chassis. ‘Isolation-style’ refers to the keys, which poke out through individual holes cut in the frame. This separates them out, making them perfect for touch typing.
We found we could comfortably bash out lengthy documents and emails for hours on end. The bevelled touchpad is also perfect, with a generous area and sensitive surface, while the left and right mouse buttons are both chunky and satisfying.
Sony has also included its standard VAIO, WEB and ASSIST shortcut buttons. Web is a quick way to open your browser, while VAIO and ASSIST help you to fiddle with the VPCEL1E1E’s settings and diagnose any issues if it’s playing up. Useful stuff if you don’t know the ins and outs of Windows 7.
Sony VAIO VPCEL1E1E: Screen
Although the lid flexes in the middle, at least it’s well connected via some sturdy hinges. The screen itself is typically vibrant and bright, with a standard 1366 x 768 WXGA resolution and 16:9 true widescreen aspect ratio. Viewing angles are good, as are the sharp contrast levels.
This is definitely a good way of taking in a movie or simply browsing your photos, although the built-in speakers are about as good as expected – in other words, you’ll want to use some headphones or external speakers if you want to fully enjoy a film or your music. The laptop survived for almost three hours on battery when watching video, a commendable effort.
Sony VAIO VPCEL1E1E: Performance
Rather than using one of Intel’s latest Core processors, Sony has trimmed costs by shoving an AMD Fusion E-350 processor into the VPCEL1E1E. It did a reasonable job of running several programs at once, so you can comfortably browse the web while listening to music and typing out an essay, email or sickly love poem. However, an Intel Core processor would have provided much better future-proofing.
Few laptops at this price point feature dedicated graphics, and this VAIO is no different. However, the integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310 GPU does an admirable job of rendering images. We enjoyed HD films without any stuttering, and you can edit your photos and even play basic or older games. Don’t expect to run anything like Modern Warfare 2 though.
Sony VAIO VPCEL1E1E: Verdict
Not a bad budget model from Sony by any means and makes a greater starter laptop. But we expected more from a VAIO model.
Sony VAIO VPCEL1E1E launch date: Out now
Sony VAIO VPCEL1E1E: £649