The very first mainstream notebook from Sony to receive an Ivy Bridge processor is this E15 model which is part of the company’s VAIO lineup. It is a 15-inch laptop that comes with a very nice design and is aimed towards media consumers and creators since it has a wide array of audio & video editing software installed on the hard drive.
Sony used brushed aluminum for the lid of the VAIO E15 which makes the laptop look very elegant and modern at the same time. It benefits from the company’s recently introduced wrap design which in this model refers to the dark gray color which practically wraps around the laptop’s bottom, then up the front and after that over the deck. For those who want a bit more color on their laptops, you might want to know that Sony will soon be offering a Seafoam White and Sharkskin Black versions of the E15.
Open the laptop and you are going to notice the same high level of sophistication, thanks to the fact that the dark grey matte plastic deck is contrasted by the speaker bars sitting at the top which has a glossy finish. Above the keyboard you are going to find the circular dark grey on/off button, as well as several other buttons for VAIO Care, Web and VAIO Assist.
The Sony VAIO E15 measures 14.7 x 10 x 1 – 1.32 inches and weighs 5.4 pounds, which means that it has pretty much an average size and weight for a mainstream notebook. It comes with a 15.5-inch LED-backlit display that has a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and manages to deliver rich colors and surprisingly deep blacks. We were fairly disappointed about the fact that this screen doesn’t get as bright in comparison to other models from this segment.
Those two speakers sitting at the top of the keyboard are powerful enough to fill a small room and are fully capable of providing a crisp and clear sound, but since there’s no subwoofer on board, don’t expect to get a lot of bass from those two stereo speakers.
The Japanese company has fitted this consumer notebook with an island-style keyboard that has a generous size and most importantly is backlit so you’ll see the buttons easier during the evening. Although there is a minimal amount of flex noticeable this shouldn’t bother most users, but we were a bit disappointed to find out that the Caps Lock and the Left Tab keys are not full size as Sony decided to shrink these a little bit in order to make room for the number pad sitting on the right.
Below this roomy keyboard sits the clickpad from Synaptics which measures 3.9 x 2.2 inches. It manages to offer plenty of room to comfortably perform multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll, along with two-finger rotation. It also offers support for four-finger flick which will display all of the programs that are running either on a horizontal plane or in a clear box, depending if you swipe up or down.
This touchpad doesn’t come with separate left and right mouse buttons but at least the lower part of the clickpad is capable of providing a strong feedback and can perform the left click and right click functions quite accurately when you do a press on the corresponding sides.
Let’s move on with our Sony VAIO E15 review and have a look at the ports that this notebook comes with, starting with the right side where the Japanese company has put the tray-loading DVD burner, three USB 2.0 ports and the usual secure lock slot. Along the left of the laptop’s front lip are the Memory Stick Duo and SD card readers, while the left side holds the microphone and headphone jacks, Ethernet port, VGA out, HDMI out, a USB 3.0 port that has charging capabilities, along with the power jack as well. Sony also installed a 1.3 megapixel camera which is capable of taking still photos up to a maximum resolution of 2,560 x 2,048 pixels while videos are recorded at up to a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels. We should mention that this webcam comes bundled with the ArcSoft WebCam Companion.
As we mentioned in the first paragraph of our Sony VAIO E15 review, the laptop is motivated by a third-gen Intel Core processor. It is the Intel Core i5-3210M CPU running at 2.50 GHz, together with 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a spacious 750GB hard drive that spins at a speed of 5,400 rpm. In the graphics department we find the built-in Intel HD 4000 with shared system memory. With these hardware components under its hood, the laptop is capable of scoring almost 2,500 points in PCMark07 which is a little bit more than the average in this segment.
As far as the software offerings are concerned, this VAIO model comes bundled with Acid Music Studio 8 for multitrack and MIDI recording, while with Sound Forge Audio Studio 10 you can do some pro editing of your audio files. On that hard drive you are also going to find Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11, as well as DVD Architect Studio 5, two powerful tools for filmmakers.
There are also a bunch of Sony-branded applications available, such as VAIO Control Center, VAIO Care and VAIO Gate. Also available is a comprehensive list of third-party applications, like Microsoft Office Starter, Skype, Adobe Reader X, Reader for PC, Windows Live, a 30-day trial of Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 and also Evernote for VAIO.
The model that we’ve talked about will set you back about $599, but there’s also a more affordable entry-level variant that costs $449. This version is powered by a Sandy Bridge-based Intel Core i3-2370M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, Intel HD 3000 and a smaller 320GB Serial Ata hard drive.
If you’re interested in the performance of the battery, you might want to know that the one in this Sony VAIO E15 is able to last for about four and a half hours when tested with LAPTOP Battery Test which consists of doing some web surfing over a wireless network. This isn’t a great performance since the average in this segment is of about five hours or so.