Sony VAIO EB1Z0E review
The latest offering from Sony’s EB-series makes a striking first impression. Finished all in black, and replete with gloss and matte highlights, the Sony EB1Z0E seizes the attention before it’s even found its way to the nearest mains socket.
Never mind that dark, brooding exterior, however; the real show starts when you boot up Windows and clock the resolution. Other models of around this size stick at 1,366 x 768, but the VAIO EB1Z0E’s 15.5in panel goes right up to a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080.
This makes desktop icons and text rather tiny (you may want to bump up the DPI in Windows 7), but it works wonders for HD video. Pop a Blu-ray disc into the built-in drive – a definite luxury considering the keen asking price – and the picture is incredibly sharp, with rich, deep colour. It’s an experience cheapened only by the speakers, which simply can’t produce the low frequencies required for a really cinematic experience.
Thanks to a built-in ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5740 GPU you can use this awesome screen for gaming too – although an average of 17fps in our Medium quality Crysis test suggests you’ll have to scale the effects back if you want to play at HD resolutions.
Media capabilities may be the VAIO EB1Z0E’s trump card, but it won’t let you down when it comes to mundane desktop tasks. With its Core i5-430M processor and 4GB of RAM it outpaces many of its mid-priced rivals, achieving an overall 2D benchmark score of 1.56. It boasts a healthy selection of ports and slots, and a solid frame and ergonomic keyboard too. You also get Bluetooth and a larger 500GB hard disk.
The only technical shortcoming is battery life: a high resolution screen like this can devour energy at a shocking rate, and in our heavy-use test the VAIO EB1Z0E chewed through a whole battery in just 56 minutes. Light-use performance was near the back of the pack too, at 3hrs 17mins, although given its increased screen specification over the competition that’s not too bad.
The Sony VAIO EB1Z0E can’t rival the more frugally equipped competition in the value for money stakes, so if you don’t want a high resolution screen – or if you regularly need to work on the move – it makes sense to look elsewhere. But for a home user who’ll enjoy the extra desktop space and welcome Blu-ray’s starring role, it will prove simply irresistible.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||370 x 248 x 31mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-430M|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM55 Express|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5740|
|Graphics card RAM||512MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||466GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Hitachi HTS545050B9SA00|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray reader|
|Optical drive||Optiarc BC-5500S4|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 17min|
|Battery life, heavy use||56min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.56|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs|