Sony VAIO Fit review
Sony has trimmed down its vast range of different models and configurations into a smaller number of customisable laptops, of which the VAIO Fit is (appropriately) the first one we've seen. The name's a good fit too, with a slim and trim chassis.
It’s still quite sizeable, as it has to pack in a 15.5in display, but its slim aluminium frame and black glossy bezel look very smart and stylish. Measuring 22.5mm thick, the Fit could almost be an Ultrabook if not for its 2.4kg weight. It even uses the same low-voltage processors as an Ultrabook, but it has the potential to be a far greater all-rounder than such ultra-portable designs.
It’s available in a variety of specifications, but our review sample came with a 2GHz Intel Core i7-3537U processor and 8GB of RAM. It scored 51 overall in our multimedia benchmarks, which is exactly what we'd expect from this type of processor, but it’s still fast enough to run multiple programs at once as well as those that require multi-threading.
Our sample also came with a dedicated 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 735M graphics chip for playing games. This mid-range chip isn’t quite as powerful as other dedicated graphics chips you’ll find on other general purpose laptops in this price range, but it still produced a respectable 40.2fps in our Dirt Showdown test on High quality settings at a 1,280x720 resolution.
This is a great score for a non-gaming laptop, but enjoying games at its native 1,920x1,080 resolution will require a few adjustments as we only managed 25.6fps on High quality when we re-ran the test at this resolution. Instead, we had to drop the settings down to Low and disable the anti-aliasing to get a smoother 50fps at 1,080p, but you should still be able to run older games at higher quality settings.
It was no match for our more demanding Crysis 2 test, though, as it only stuttered through with an average of 8.5fps on Ultra at its native resolution. Even knocking the settings down to High, which is the lowest quality setting on Crysis 2, it only scraped 17.3fps, so we’d recommend sticking with a lower resolution if you want to play the very latest 3D games.
It may not be a gaming powerhouse, but the Fit’s 15.5in Full HD display looks great and its glossy finish really helps colours to stand out. Reds, greens and blues were bright and vibrant and whites were uniformly lit across the screen. Much like the Sony VAIO Pro and Sony Duo 13, though, the Fit’s average viewing angles let it down slightly. While blacks were very deep, the lower part of the screen always looked a fraction lighter than the top half, and it was all the more noticeable in our high contrast images. While colours looked very rich, its contrast levels were fairly mediocre and we found it difficult to pick out a high level of detail in the darker areas of each photo. The reflective nature of the screen certainly didn’t help in this case, but we’ve seen better. Our sample also had an optional touchscreen, but this will set you back another £80.
The backlit keyboard also has room for improvement. It’s large enough to fit in a number pad, but while its flat Chiclet style keys are all very well spaced, there could have been a lot more travel between keys to give a better level of tactile feedback. Some keys, such as the left Shift key, could also have benefitted from being a little larger. Sony has pushed the keyboard very high up the chassis, which helps your posture if you're typing in a tight space as your hands sit further from your body.
The touchpad doesn’t make use of the extra space beneath the keyboard though, we'd have preferred it a little lower down. It’s very responsive, though, despite its lack of physical buttons, and we had no problem using it to navigate the desktop or perform Windows 8 shortcuts. Some multi-touch gestures like pinch-zooming were a little over-sensitive, but two-finger scrolling worked perfectly.
The Fit has a good range of ports, with everything you'd expect. Along with a DVD optical drive, there’s one USB2 and two USB3 ports, an HDMI video output for connecting it up to an external display, an SD card reader and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Its battery life was pretty average, though, as it only lasted 5 hours in our light use test with the screen set to half brightness. We would have liked to have seen at least six hours considering its low-voltage processor, but unless you’re planning on hefting it about with you day-to-day, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
The Sony VAIO Fit is certainly a huge improvement on other full-sized VAIO laptops we’ve seen in the last year and there’s a great deal of value to be found in the various configuration options available through Sony’s online store. Our review specification is already better value than the Best-Buy winning Samsung Series 7 Ultra, but its keyboard and screen aren’t quite good enough to edge it into award territory.
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