Sony Vaio E Series (VPC-EB1Z0E) review
Sony's Vaio EB1Z0E is one of the best looking laptops around, with its sleekly understated black chassis. We expected a lot from Sony's latest and the EC1S1EB delivers on all fronts, with a range of features that's among the best we've seen from any laptop in this price range.
This entry in Sony's Vaio E Series comes with a 2.26GHz Intel Core i5-430M processor and 4GB of memory. A 64-bit installation of Windows 7 Home Premium means that the memory is put to its full use. The laptop's Overall score of 87 indicates that the EB1Z0E should be able to handle almost any task you want to throw at it.
Although it's good, the processor isn't the most impressive part of the EB1Z0E's specification. The laptop is fitted with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics processor with 512MB of dedicated memory. At a resolution of 1,280x800 at 4xAA, it managed an almost-smooth frame rate of 18.8fps in CoD4, so you'll only need to make a few compromises to graphical quality to get most 3D games running well.
The rest of the EB1Z0E's specification is also excellent. There's a 500GB hard disk, Gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11n wireless adaptor. For external storage and peripherals there are three dedicated USB ports and a fourth port which can use used to connect either a USB or an eSATA device, as well as an ExpressCard/34 slot. The memory card reader supports SDHC and Memory Stick HD Duo memory cards. Audio quality from the built-in speakers isn't too bad at low volumes, with a more balanced bass that we've heard from some laptops, but distorts and vibrates badly at full and even 80 per cent volume.
There's a Blu-ray drive, so you can watch all the latest High Definition movies, plus an HDMI output so you can view them on a larger screen. You don't need an external monitor or TV to enjoy 1080p video, though, as the EB1Z0E has a full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080. If you use this resolution for standard desktop tasks, rather than games or movies, you'll probably want to increase Windows' default text size to avoid eye strain - we found it uncomfortable to use until we'd done this. The display is fairly even, but white areas look a little grey even at full brightness.
The touchpad is positioned directly below the space bar which pushes it towards the left of the laptop, because of the numeric keypad to the right of the keyboard. We found that this made it a little too easy to accidentally brush the touchpad - we found that the pinch to zoom multitouch gesture was particularly easy to trigger inadvertently and opted to disable it. A battery life of two hours and 40 minutes is acceptable for use around the home.
The Vaio EB1Z0E has a great specification and performance that's among the best for a laptop of its price and size. Despite its slightly cramped touchpad, the Blu-ray player and HD-capable display make this a worthy winner of our Best Buy award.