Review: Sony Vaio Fit 15E

Somebody put this screen out of its misery

Our score: 2/5
Reviewed: August 30, 2013 11:18 AM
 
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Published: August 30, 2013 11:18 AM
Updated: January 24, 2014 3:13 PM
By Alexandre Botella / Rémi Jacquet
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
Among the great mass of 15-inch productivity-oriented laptops on the market, Sony is trying to make the Vaio Fit 15E stand out by giving it a subwoofer intended to give it amazing sound. Is that enough to make this computer worth buying? Answers and more below...

Design3/5


The Vaio Fit 15E's body is made entirely of matte plastic—not as elegant a choice as brushed aluminium, but Sony made up for it by using quality plastic that doesn't smudge or collect dust, making it look cleaner than many laptops with more noble materials.

Sony Vaio Fit 15E - keyboard

The keyboard is well-optimised for the space it inhabits, providing enough room for a numeric keypad. Unfortunately, the key stroke is terrible. The keys lack resistance and rebound, giving them an annoyingly flabby feel. The Vaio Fit 15E doesn't have that many shortcuts, either. It just has Fn commands for turning off the touchpad, changing the volume, adjusting the screen brightness and deporting the screen image. The model we were sent to review doesn't have backlighting, but it appears the standard model on sale in the UK does.

The touchpad is disappointment number two. It's large enough (10.6 x 6.5 cm), but it isn't very precise and doesn't provide an optimal glide. It does, however, support two-finger scrolling, zooming and the Windows 8 gestures.

We tested the touchscreen version, which costs an extra £80. The screen is responsive and relatively precise. That said, even with amazing touchscreens we still don't see the point in having one on a laptop; it's too tiring on your arms and whenever you're on the standard Windows desktop (instead of the optimised Windows 8 Start Screen), it takes enormous skill just to select a link or folder.

Sony Vaio Fit 15E - right

Sony Vaio Fit 15E - left

The Sony Vaio Fit 15E has four USB ports (two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0), an Ethernet RJ45 port, an HDMI port, an audio in, an audio out, an SD card reader and a DVD drive, something that doesn't go without saying on a 15-inch laptop.

Sony Vaio Fit 15E - heat
 Heat readings with the components under stress
Images taken using a Fluke Ti25 thermal imaging camera
 
The Vaio Fit 15E manages its heat well, never letting it get above 43°C (109°F) under the chassis, so you don't have to worry about hot legs when you have it sitting on your lap. Also good, the air vent is located along the left side, not the bottom.


Audio3/5



Sony Vaio Fit 15E - speaker right
Sony Vaio Fit 15E - speaker left


There's nothing revolutionary about this computer's audio capabilities. There's a microphone in and a headphone out, but no combo jack. At the risk of stating the obvious, usually on a 15-inch laptop you can find space for extra ports like this. The sound through the audio in and out is clean, but it could use more punch.

Sony Vaio Fit 15E - freq resp
Frequency response curve: built-in speakers
Green = good / Orange = tolerable / White = heavily altered

 
But the built-in speakers are a rung or two below even the headphone output. They don't get much volume, the sound saturates rather quickly and the whole thing ends up sounding like music soup once there's too much going on. Sony has bet a lot on the subwoofer that's supposed to improve the sound, but all it does is raise the low-mids while leaving the low-end out to dry. Sony's talk of sound quality is mostly just that: talk.


Configuration:

The model we were sent to review features an Intel Core i3-3217U processor, 4 GB of RAM, an Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset and a 500 GB HDD (see inset below). All of our comments so far have applied to all versions of the Sony Vaio Fit 15E, whereas the sections below apply only to the model we tested.

Display1/5



Wow. The Vaio Fit 15E's screen does it more harm than good. Our version was the 1366 x 768 touchscreen model. With screen brightness less than 200 cd/m², don't expect to see the screen well in brightly lit settings. And it's not the rock-bottom 250:1 contrast that's going to save the day, either. Instead, it just reduces the TN panel's already narrow viewing angles.

Sony Vaio Fit 15E - colour tempGrey colour temperature
Sony Vaio Fit 15E - gammaGamma
Sony Vaio Fit 15E - Delta EDelta E


The Delta E is almost 10—three and below is the ideal, so here the colours onscreen are highly unfaithful. And the average colour temperature is just as bad. At 10,100 K, it's far too cool—a long shot from the desired 6,500 K.

This screen is like night and day compared to Sony's astounding Vaio Pro 13 we reviewed last week, which had contrast of over 1,000:1, a Delta E of 3.6 and colour temperature of 6,550 K. Talk about two different beasts.

Processing Power2/5


The Haswell-generation Intel Core i3-3217U processor can handle any task, but definitely not at the fastest speeds. The Toshiba Satellite U920T uses the same model, yet outperforms the Vaio Fit 15E, executing tasks 10% faster on average.

The 500 GB hard drive used for storage on our model doesn't offer the same advantages as a solid-state drive would. Startup takes 25 seconds and shutdown takes 18 seconds. An SSD could easily reduce these figures by half.

Gaming1/5



The Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset (3Dmark06: 3219) is only powerful enough to handle games that don't require much graphics processing, such as FIFA 13, in the screen's native resolution and with the graphics settings on high. If you were hoping to play Crysis 3 or Dishonored on this computer, you'll have to revise your expectations because even in 800 x 600 resolution they'll be unplayable.

The Vaio Fit 15E does, however, play Full HD movies without any lags or choppiness.
 

Mobility / Battery Life3/5


After getting 6 hours 40 minutes out of the Vaio Pro 13, we were hoping for something similar here. The problem is that the Vaio Fit 15E has the same type of battery (4,400 mAh), but it's used to support a larger 15-inch screen. As a result, the Vaio Fit 15E lasts 3 hours 20 minutes (in airplane mode with the screen brightness at 100 cd/m² and headphones plugged in), precisely half as long as the Vaio Pro 13.

At 2.5 cm thick and weighing 2.5 kg, the Vaio Fit 15E is slim enough to fit easily into backpacks, but it isn't the lightest 15-inch laptop we've seen. If you're looking for slim and lightweight in the same price range, the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 is 2.1 cm thin and weighs 2.1 kg.

2/5 Sony Vaio Fit 15E DigitalVersus 2013-08-30 12:18:00

Pros

  • Satisfactory processing power
  • Numeric keypad
  • Connectivity

Cons

  • Bad screen
  • Low battery life for a 15" laptop (3 hrs 20 min)
  • Low gaming capabilities

Conclusion

Even with an adequate processor and lots of connectivity, the Sony Vaio Fit 15E just adds fail on top of fail—starting with the screen, which has low brightness, low contrast and unfaithful colours. Then there's the short battery life and hefty body... For this type of product in this price range, we prefer the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15.

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