Sony Vaio E Series (EC1S1E/BJ.CEK) review
17.3 in 1920x1080 display, 3.1kg, 2.26GHz Intel Core i5-430M, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Sony's 17.3in widescreen Vaio EC1S1E is a sleekly designed but nonetheless imposing desktop replacement laptop with a full 1080 HD display, Blu-Ray drive and 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650. Although it's more streamlined than most desktop replacements, the EC1S1E isn't the sort of computer you can sling in your backpack: as well as weighing 3.1kg, it's battery life of just over two hours is poor, even for a desktop replacement. That's not entirely surprising, given the laptop's demanding specification.
The EC1S1E has a 2.26GHz Intel Core i5-430M processor and 4GB RAM, which made for a good performance in our benchmark tests, producing an overall score of 86. The dedicated graphics processor means that it's no slouch when it comes to gaming, either, achieving an impressive 34.9fps in our CoD4 test and 20.4fps at the screen's full 1,920x1,080. The latter is a little too slow for comfortable gaming, but a little tweaking should provide a smooth performance at high resolutions.
Another obvious benefit of the HD display is that you can watch Blu-ray movies at their native resolution. It's large enough to comfortably watch a film on, while an HDMI output means that you can connect it to a TV or projector if you need a bigger screen.
The laptop's screen is excellent. Although its glossy finish is very prone to reflections, blacks are deep and right and light tones are bright, if slightly cold. We were particularly impressed by the display's greyscale gamut.
Typically for a laptop, there's only support for stereo analogue audio, so you'll need to use the HDMI output or an external USB sound card if you want 5.1 surround sound. Audio from the built-in speakers is clear, with great treble definition, but it's not particularly loud and bass is poor.
Other features are much as we'd expect from a laptop at this price, including Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless and a memory card reader that can handle SD, SDHC and Memory Stick HG Duo cards. As well as three USB ports, there's an eSATA port for fast external storage, while a 500GB hard disk provides plenty of internal storage. An ExpressCard/34 slot provides some potential for expansion if, for example, you want to add a TV tuner without occupying one of your USB ports.
We found it hard to get used to the size and positioning of the weirdly textured touchpad and found it easy to brush by accident. The pad is centred relative to the main keyboard, but feels off because of the full numeric keypad to the right. The keyboard itself, with flat, widely separated keys, proved fairly comfortable to use and quick to type on once we'd become accustomed to it.
Apart from some issues with touchpad positioning, there's very little to fault about the EC1S1E - it's powerful, with plenty of features, good gaming performance and a proper 1080p display to go with its Blu-Ray player. All this helps to make the EC1S1EB the best choice if you want a cutting edge home entertainment laptop. It's a Best Buy.