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Sony Vaio EA3S1E review

Tom Morgan
17 Dec 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
660
inc VAT

The EA3S1E combines solid performance and excellent connectivity in a stylish package, but has disappointing battery life.

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Specifications

14 in 1,366x768 display, 2.4kg, 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The bright blue EA3S1E1 certainly stands out from the crowd, with Sony’s signature Vaio design looking just as good here as in any other colour. It’s not all style over substance however, as there’s a solid system underneath.

Sony VAIO EA3S1E

The Intel Core i3-370M processor is the fastest mobile Core i3 chip currently available (running at 2.4GHz), so it should have plenty of power for most everyday tasks. Paired with 4GB of memory, it managed 84 overall in our multimedia benchmarks, which is about average for a Core i3-powered laptop.

For gaming on the move, there’s a dedicated graphics card in the form of an AMD Radeon HD 5650. It has 512MB of dedicated memory, but can also borrow from the 4GB of system memory. As well as high definition video, it’s powerful enough for most games at reasonable detail settings, as a score of 37fps in Call of Duty 4 shows.

The 14in screen has a 1,366x768 native resolution, which is great for web browsing. It’s not particularly bright, though, and although this made black levels looked good, whiter images appeared slightly grey. Other than this, the backlight was even and colours looked vibrant. The glossy screen handled reflections surprisingly well, and viewing angles were also impressive. The resolution is large enough for 720p but not high enough for full HD content. For this, you’ll need to connect an external display via the HDMI port. There’s also a VGA output for older displays.

The speakers are upward facing and don’t produce the greatest quality audio. High notes didn’t distort, but it was hard to pick them out from the overpowering mid-range. The lack of bass means a pair of good-quality headphones are a sensible option for watching movies.

Like a lot of laptop keyboards, the EA3S1E uses chiclet-style isolated keys that rise up out of the keyboard tray. There isn’t a number pad, but the other keys are all full size and comfortable to type on. Plus, there’s almost no flex in the tray. The recessed touchpad is very responsive, as are the multi-touch gestures, with the dimpled surface proving excellent for precise movements. The two touchpad buttons are equally responsive, making everyday usability fantastic.

Despite using an energy-friendly Core i3 processor, the EA3S1E only managed three hours away from the mains. You can buy a larger six-cell battery, but this adds around £150 to the price.

Sony VAIO EA3S1E DVD drive

Connectivity on the EA3S1E is fantastic; as well as a DVD re-writer there are two separate card readers, an ExpressCard /54 slot and three dedicated USB ports. A fourth USB port doubles as an eSATA port and there’s Bluetooth for wireless file transfers.

Sony VAIO EA3S1E ports

The dedicated graphics card is certainly an improvement over similarly priced laptops that rely on integrated chips. The Vaio EA3S1E also looks fantastic and is well built. It has plenty of ports and, if the bright colour scheme isn’t to your taste, it’s available in a range of subtler shades. If you can live with the mediocre battery life and slightly dim screen, it’s a great all-round 14in laptop.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-370M
Processor clock speed2.4GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size27x346x239mm
Weight2.4kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size14 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory512MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports4
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11b/g/n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
Supported memory cardsSD, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Other portseSATA (shared with USB socket), minijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionburn own restore disc
Software includedEvernote for VAIO, Playstation tools
Optional extras£149

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£660
Detailswww.sony.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.play.com

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