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Chris Cardell

Hands-on Sony Vaio E Series VPCEB4X0E

The new E-series Sony Vaio 15-inch model is filling the i5 gap in their range. The VPCEB4X0E/BQ was released this month and it’s about time someone reviewed it. As an entertainment machine that you wouldn’t want to lug around, it boasts 3 hours of battery life, which as always is an exaggeration. Featuring a stunning display, incredible resolution and Blu-ray, it’s currently priced at £749 (roughly $1200). This machine is firmly targeted as a desktop replacement for the consumer who doesn’t mind spending a little extra for a few additional features and the Sony brand. It consists of:

2.66GHz (Turbo Boost up to 2.93GHz) Intel Core i5-480M Processor
4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; supports up to 8GB
500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
Blu-ray Disc ROM Drive with DVD SuperMulti
512 MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 Graphics
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Built-in 640 x 480 MotionEye webcam
1000BASE-T/100BASE-TX/10BASE-T Ethernet
16:9 VAIO Display Plus (1920 x 1080 pixels)
VGP-AC19V37 Power Adapter
38.85Wh (11.1V/3500mAh) Li-Ion battery
Built-in Bluetooth and Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g/n)
3/4 USB Ports, 1 e-SATA, 1 Express Card Slot, HDMI output, VGA output, SD and SDHC reader, Memory Stick Duo reader

As always with Windows machines, there’s a huge list of updates on start-up, mainly operating system security patches, 41 updates to be exact. Sony’s own updater also has 3 updates, including a fairly hefty update for the graphics driver. This has become a standard with Windows machines, but it seems a little silly that after purchasing a brand new and recently released laptop that there should be such a vast number of updates. Similarly it’s bundled with a bunch of software you simply don’t need, so a quick uninstall session is a necessary.

There’s no doubt that Windows 7 has taken a few design elements from Mac OS X, so it seems a little strange Sony feel the need to include their own Dock emulator, which sits at the top of your desktop and will jump down when you mouse over and magnify the icons. It’s a little buggy and on a few occasions it just created a black blob that blotted out half the screen, so personally I would recommend removing it, the new Windows 7 taskbar takes care of unnecessary navigation splendour.

I have no idea what Sony’s thinking is regarding the naming of their laptops. E-Series VPCEB4X0E doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. I can understand why they might take this attitude with Business machines, but it doesn’t feel like Sony are moving with/understanding the market when they’re coming up with these names for their consumer machines.

I like the aesthetics; to a certain type of person it’s beautiful. However I don’t think Sony are putting enough effort into there design and build quality. It just doesn’t compare to Apple (which in my opinion leads in build quality). Granted it is half the price of a comparable MacBook Pro, but I still think more thought and care could be put into it.

Is the machine value for money? I put a strong value on good build quality and although it is largely plastic, which gives it a slightly less classy feel. It is very solid. The HP Pavilion dv6-3118sa comes with extremely similar spec, but lacks a Blu-ray player and only has a 1366×768 resolution all for £100 less (roughly $160). Both these additional features add a lot of value, so overall I do think this laptop is good value and you can’t put a price on the Vaio brand. I haven’t seen the HP up close, but it does seem to be more comfortable with its size, it’s proportioned correctly and doesn’t include a number pad. I’m assuming there is still a market for the number-pad, I would have preferred larger keys and better spacing. The area above the keyboard seems large and unnecessary. It does make way for the speakers, which are reasonable, but overall, you might say it looks a little skewed.

Unfortunately I know very little about Environmental qualifications, but it looks like Sony are making an effort to be environmentally conscious. It’s Energy Star 5.0 qualified and recycled paper or paper from responsible forestry (e.g. FSC-certified) is used for product packaging.

They’ve given the instant Web access an environmental spin, as it allows you to access the Internet within 15 seconds without having to waste battery life on booting the full operating system.

It’s one of those laptops that attracts dust and you’ll find yourself constantly wiping it clean, with this kind of laptop (shiny), it’s really the norm, it’d be nice if Sony could find a way to bring the carbon styling of their high end laptops to their entertainment machines.

The battery does have a lot to power, so the battery life is understandably disappointing, it seems to run down in no time at all, it’s in no way a portable machine, so this shouldn’t be an issue, but don’t expect to finish more than one film if you’re on the move.

Although generally quiet, it does have little bursts of noise. It’s not the coolest of laptops, but then we haven’t yet experienced it get above a normal level of heat.

The graphics card, resolution and array of ports impress, but the average camera, poor battery and some of the aesthetic decisions do not. However, overall this is a very nice laptop and if you’re in the market for a Blu-Ray 1080P HD 15-inch entertainment laptop, you should look into this laptop further. If you have any specific questions regarding this laptop, leave a comment below.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 at 7:07 pm GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Carlos

    I am thinking of buying this machine [VPCEB4X0E], I decided against the A660-1H7 from Toshiba [Lower screen res. no e-SATA drive port and similar class 3 but less ‘stable’ NVIDIA graphics card].

    I have one important question…

    Can you confirm if the motherboard allows the memory to run dual channel?

    None of the ‘big’ brands state this in their specification and it’s pretty silly if a modern machine doesn’t run memory in dual channel format as does my ‘outdated’ machine it’s intended to replace.

    Only a program like Lavalys or similar will reveal this and Sony won’t let me install it on their display model to verify the memory’s operational mode.

    Smart bastards…

    Can you help with a reply?


  • Editor

    I’ll have a look and get back to you.

  • Rhodrievans_1

    is the excessive amount the battery wiggles in its housing normal? i tryed questioning this with sony, and they explained it was normal >? i just wanted clarification on this really> does anyone else have this battery wiggle problem?

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