The Sony Vaio E-series VPC-EE2E1E/WI is one of the few laptops around that uses AMD's Vision 2010 platform. Basically this means that, instead of being based on Intel technology, it runs on an AMD Athlon processor and uses ATI Radeon graphics. The 15.5-inch laptop is aimed at the budget end of the market. Our review model was supplied by Laptops Direct, where you can buy it for just £475, which is surprisingly cheap by Sony's standards.
Sparkling ivory stunner
It may be aimed at budget buyers, but the VPC-EE2E1E/WI looks far from cheap. In fact, its sleek curves and glossy white-and-silver finish mean it stands out like a sore thumb when viewed next to the boring all-black designs of most cheap laptops. You'll find several classy design touches dotted around the chassis, including a subtle sparkle effect embedded into the glossy white finish, sculpted screen hinges and the neat way the trackpad is seamlessly integrated into the wrist rest. At 2.7kg, the VPC-EE2E1E/WI is a little heavier than usual for a 15.5-inch machine, but it's not too bulky, measuring just 284 by 37 by 369mm. Its build quality is also very impressive. It feels remarkably solid when you pick it up and there's very little give in the chassis.
Of course, some corners have been cut to keep the price down. For example, the 15.5-inch display has a pretty mediocre screen resolution of 1366x768 pixels -- this is the same resolution you'll find on the smaller displays of some high-end netbooks. Nevertheless, the screen is LED-backlit and has a glossy coating, so colours look impressively rich and vibrant. As with most glossy displays, it can be a tad reflective, but no more so than the displays you'll find on even pricier laptops. Like many budget laptop screens, the horizontal viewing angle on this machine isn't all that wide.
The VPC-EE2E1E/WI's keyboard uses isolated keys. This type of keyboard arrangement is very fashionable at the moment, but it's also practical, especially when it's well implemented, which is certainly the case here. The combination of the large, flat surface area of the keys and the generous amount of space between them make it a pleasure to use, even for faster touch-typists. The layout is excellent, too, and there's also a numerical keypad on the right-hand side of the keyboard. Sony has added a grid of tiny dots to the trackpad surface to give it a more tactile feel. If we have one complaint, however, it's that the generously sized trackpad buttons are a little rattly and don't have the solid action we would have liked.
Poor du-Athlon performance
The E-series uses the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, and the 3GB of RAM Sony has provided give it a decent amount of space to do its thing. Rather than going the Intel route, Sony has instead opted for a dual-core Athlon II P320 processor that ticks over at 2.1GHz. It's not exactly the fastest processor on the block, as its score of 3,752 in PCMark05 indicates. While it's fine for day-to-day stuff, such as Web browsing and emailing, it feels sluggish when used for more demanding tasks like HD video-editing.
The laptop isn't exactly a blistering performer when it comes to 3D graphics, either. It uses a rather lowly ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics chip, which only managed a score of 1,918 in the 3DMark06 benchmark test. This means it just hasn't got the graphical grunt for the latest first-person shooters, although you will be able to use it to play older games.
On the battery-life front, it manages to match what you'd expect from a budget 15-incher. In our Battery Eater test, it kept running for an hour and nine minutes before needing a recharge, which is pretty much par for the course for a machine of this size.
The laptop's hard drive is reasonably large at 320GB, and there's a built-in DVD writer as well as both SD Card and memory stick readers, which may come in handy for transferring pictures from a digital camera. The line-up of ports isn't too bad, either. You get four USB ports as well as VGA and HDMI connectors. Sadly, there's no ExpressCard slot or eSata port, so expansion possibilities are a little limited. Although there's an Ethernet port and 801.11n Wi-Fi, there's no Bluetooth on board.
While there's no doubting that the Sony Vaio E-series VPC-EE2E1E/WI is an impressively stylish machine, especially given its affordable price tag, the performance from the AMD dual-core processor is a little disappointing. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a laptop that can tackle less demanding tasks and will look stylish in the corner of your living room, it may be a good bet.
Edited by Emma Bayly