Tag: Sony VAIO E Series

Gift List–Mother’s Day

Sometimes you may be stuck for technological gifts to give Mum on her special day. Here, I have assembled a list of ideas to get you going, especially when it comes to high-value gifts where you can pool resources together to fund these gifts rather than buying many low-value gifts.


Small size for the purse

Toshiba Thrive AT1S0 7" tablet

Toshiba AT1S0 7″ Android tablet

The small 7” tablet computers come in to their own if the main goal is to have it on hand in your coat pocket. They can also fit comfortably even it to mid-sized handbags to use as an electronic notebook or electronic reference book.

To keep in the handbag, at home or the office

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tabletA 10” tablet may come in to its own if the main goal is to read or view online content while relaxing in that armchair or in bed. Similarly, they could come in to their own with a larger handbag or shoulder bag.

No tablet computer is complete without a matching accessory cover or wrap that suits Mum’s taste. If she owns a tablet computer, you may offer her a newer cover or wrap, perhaps to replace that tired old one that she has on that tablet.


Small ultraportables

HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet-notebook computer

HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet-notebook computer

Small ultraportable computers that range from 11” to 14” can earn their keep for “on-the-go” computing tasks. This is more so if Mum wants to create a lot of content like typing up many email letters, writing memoirs or simply working a blog.

Larger laptops

Toshiba Satellite P870 desktop-replacement laptopOn the other hand, a standard-size laptop or “desktop tablet” computer may come in handy if the goal is a computer that is mainly used at home and the desire is to store it away neatly when not in use.


The “all-in-one” desktop computer, with the computing power, screen and storage in one slender box, can become an alternative computer option if you want an elegant desktop computer. They are also becoming increasingly capable rather than glorified “kitchen kiosks”.


HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer

HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer – predecessor to the Photosmart 7520

As for printers, it may be worth looking towards a durable network printer that is cost-effective to run. Be careful of the printers that are cheap to buy because these units will be expensive to run due to short-capacity inks and toners, with situations where the cost of replacing ink or toner is as much as buying a printer of the same standard.

HP Photosmart 6520 or Photosmart 7520 desktop printers

HP Envy 120 – a neat aesthetically-pleasing printer for low-demand applications such as being a secondary printer

Brother MFC-J825DW or DCP-J725DW / DCP-J925DW

Small music system

1-piece including speaker docks and wireless speakers

Marantz Audio Consolette speaker dock (Photo courtesy of Marantz / Gap Marketing)

Marantz Audio Consolette speaker dock

These single-piece systems, including speaker docks and wireless speaker systems, typically have a small footprint and can fit well on the kitchen bench or on the sideboard. Some of these may offer a “full” sound that encompasses te bass notes and the treble notes properly.


Sony CMT-MX750Ni Internet-enabled micro music system

Sony CMT-MX750Ni – an example of a DLNA-compliant music system for a hotel room or serviced apartment

A three-piece system with separate speakers has increased flexibility. Here, you can keep the main unit on the sideboard and position the speakers further away, including mounting them on the wall or having them flank a fireplace or feature window.

Earphones and headphones

Creative Labs MA930 in-ear mobile-phone headset

Creative Labs MA930 in-ear headset

I would suggest that you look towards a few sets of headphones that suit different activities. For example, a pair of lightweight supra-aural headphones can work well for jogging or walking with good examples being provided by B&O (Form 2review), Bose, Denon, Sennheiser and Sony.

Earphones can also work well for public transport and other noisy environments especially where discreet use is required. Similarly a pair of good circum-aural headphones can go a long way for detailed music listening at home or in noisy environments.

It is worth having a look at this buying guide to be sure that the headphones fit yours and Mum’s desires.

Gaining the most out of the Internet experience

Internet setup

If there isn’t a broadband Internet service at Mum’s home, it could be a good gift idea to set up one there and install a good-quality router for the network as in the article that I had done about the “family house”.

To the same extent, optimising the home network with at least 802.11n dual stream coverage everywhere, preferably simultaneous dual-band 802.11n dual-stream Wi-Fi. As well, I would make sure that there is a HomePlug AV powerline segment in that network even if there is Ethernet in the house. This is to cater for ad-hoc wired-network setups.

The reason I would think of this is that you may be dealing with increased use of multimedia from online sources at the TV, laptop or mobile devices and you want reliable operation from these services.


Similarly, you may pool resources together to give Mum access to IT education and support programs/ This is more so if she hasn’t got much in the way of computer skills.

Online content

As well, pooling resources to an online content service such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu or QuickFlix may be a way to give her access to the music and movies that these services provide. In the case of Spotify, this may be about using it as an online music library or as a “music tryout” service that can be part of her complete music experience.

These services are not about replacing the existing content library but about hunting for new content that may be of interest.


I wish you all a very happy and prosperous Mother’s Day with lots of fun, with you using this as a way to choose the right gift that will be value for money.

Product Review–Sony VAIO E Series standard-size laptop (Model No: SVE15129CG)


I am revinewing the latest of Sony’s VAIO E Series laptops which is the latest in Sony’s mainstream laptops for the new computing lifestyle. As for an entertainment-focused company, these computers are typically optimised for “entertainment” read multimedia use rather than just as a laptop for doing homework on.

Sony VAIO E-Series mainstream laptop SVE15129CGS

– this configuration
Form factor Regular laptop
Processor Intel i7-3632QM cheaper
Intel i5-3230M
RAM 4Gb RAM, other variants shared with graphics
Secondary storage 750Gb hard disk
variants available
DVD burner, SD card reader, MemoryStick Pro card reader
Display Subsystem AMD Radeon HD 7650M 2Gb display memory
Screen 15” widescreen
LED backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD Audio
Audio Improvements xLoud and ClearPhase sound tuning
Network Wi-Fi 802.11g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready
Modems Dial-up or wireless broadband
Connectivity USB USB 3.0 with charging function x 1, USB 2.0 x 3
Audio 3.5mm audio in, 3.5mm audio out, digital via HDMI
Operating System on supplied configuration Windows 8
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: 5.9 Graphics: 6.7
Advanced Graphics:6.7

The computer itself

Although Sony is running some 14” models in the VAIO E Series lineup, I am deliberately focusing the review on the 15” models which appeal to the mainstream user base. It is the current iteration of the E Series “entertainment laptop” computers, a few examples of which I have reviewed before.

Like most laptops targeted at this market, the VAIO is a regular clamshell laptop without any convertible functionality or extra screen. It doesn’t even have a touchscreen which is something I would like to see appear in this class of laptop.

There is a variant in this series (Model: SVE15137CG)  with the same screen size that is AUD$400 cheaper but comes with the Intel i5 CPU that may suit mainstream users who don’t chase the ultimate performance from the processor. Other than that, it has the same display, storage and connectivity specifications as this model that I am reviewing.

Aesthetics and build quality

Sony VAIO E-Series mainstream laptop SVE-15129CG illuminated keyboard

Illuminated keyboard

The VAIO E Series computer is very durable even though I am using a sample model. There is an increased amount of plastic used on the body rather than the a metal-finish palmrest. The metal finish is used mainly on the lid.

When I review laptops, I pay attention to the temperature control issues during use and notice any heat buildup or overheating that can occur. Here, I noticed some hat coming out of the vent on the left hand side of the laptop during video playback. This means that it can keep its cool with no need to run the fan, yet it calms down a few minutes after video playback. This is something to be expected for the larger laptops.

User Interface

The VAIO E Series is equipped with an illuminated keyboard that is easy to type on especially if you are touch-typing. There is also the full numeric keypad which can come in handy when you do business work.

The trackpad doesn’t jump around as easily when typing but feels a bit loose although I am reviewing a pre-issue computer.

As far as the switches go, there are the usual power, Web-direct and assist-direct buttons but this laptop doesn’t have buttons for direct access to “flight-mode” Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on/off or volume controls, which I would find as being of use with any laptop.

Audio and Video

The AMD video graphics subsystem in the Sony VAIO E-Series laptop provided me with a smooth graphics experience even for online video. Personally, I would like to have the option to make the VAIO run on a battery-conserve mode with use of integrated graphics for when you use it on the road.

Like a lot of consumer laptops, the VAIO has that same glossy screen which may cause problems in some usage environments.

As for the sound reproduction, the integrated speakers do sound thin even though there is the sound-tuning that Sony provides. This would be good enough for speech-driven applications like Skype but I would find that headphones or external speakers work better if you want better sound.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

Sony VAIO E-Series mainstream laptop SVE15129CG Left-hand-side connections - Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0, 3.5mm microphone jack, 3.5mm audio output jack and SD and MemoryStick card readers

Left-hand-side connections – Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0, 3.5mm microphone jack, 3.5mm audio output jack amd SD amd MemoryStick card readers

There is one USB 3.0 connector with the Sleep and Charge option for use with charging your phone or tablet while the system is in sleep mode. But the other USB connections are USB 2.0 which would suit most non-storage devices. Personally I would rather that all the USB ports are USB 3.0 types.

Other than that, there is a good complement of connectors on the VAIO E-Series laptop. This includes an HDMI connection for modern flat-panel displays, a VGA display for economy data projectors as well as separate microphone and headphone sockets for audio connection.

Sony VAIO E-Series mainstream laptop SVE15129CG right hand side connections - DVD burner and 3 USB 2.0 ports

Right-hand side connections – 3 USB 2.0 ports and a DVD burner

For network connectivity, this computer can work with a Gigabit Ethernet segment or a 2.4GHz g/n Wi-Fi wireless segment. Personally I would like to see this be equipped with a dual-band Wi-Fi network adaptor to take advantage of higher-throughput less-occupied 5.4GHx wireless networks. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.0 which makes it work with power-conserving Bluetooth Smart sensor peripherals.

There is a 750Gb hard disk but it has some of the space taken up by the system recovery partition. As well, it has an integrated DVD burner, a feature that still has some relevance but is likely to disappear especially with slimmer laptops. Like other Sony laptops, there is a separate MemoryStick slot as well as the SD card slot for removable data storage options.

Battery life

The battery runtime was OK for day-to-day use but if you were watching multimedia content, it ran out quickly. I noticed that the battery was half-empty after watching the on-demand video and I .could get 2 hours from a DVD movie.

The problem could be easily mitigated through allowing the user to run with integrated graphics when the laptop is running on battery. But on the other hand, this may not be an issue when the VAIO is used as a work-home laptop computer and ran mainly on AC power.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Sony VAIO E-Series SVE15129CGS lid view

Lid view

Here, we need to see the arrival of touchscreens for the 15”-17” class of laptops in order for Windows 8 to be relevant to this class, as I have noticed before when I reviewed the Toshiba Satellite P870 and as I notice with this VAIO laptop.

Sony could offer a premium 15” variant for the VAIO E Series with a 1Tb hard disk, along with a BD-ROM / DVD burner optical drive, 8Gb RAM as well as dual-band Wi-Fi. Here, this could work as a deal maker for those of us who want a 15” laptop that has all the fruit.


I would recommend the current 15” Sony VAIO E-Series laptops more as a laptop to take between work and home or use as a regular household laptop. This is especially if multimedia and gaming is a key function that you chase and you value the Sony VAIO brand. If you needed to save a bit of money, you could go for the cheaper variant that I have mentioned in this review.

Improvements now available for some of Sony’s VAIO computers including the VAIO E-Series

 Sony updates VAIO F, E, and L with shiny new silicon, a pinch of Blu-ray and some denser screens — Engadget

My comments on this upgrade

I am reporting on this latest round of VAIO improvements because it pertains to the VAIO E Series laptop computer that I reviewed in this site a few months ago. Sony VAIO E-Series laptop

Two models in this series, the  EA and  EB models will have access to better “horsepower” in the form of the Intel Core i5-460M (2.53GHz) and i5-580M (2.66GHz) processors for US$130 and US$230 extra. As well, the EB and EC models come with 1080p-resolution (1920 x 1080) screens as a complimentary option until October whereupon this option will cost US$50 extra. This is now pushing the E Series in to the premium multimedia league as far as work-home laptops are concerned.

The VAIO F series performance-tuned gaming laptop that is the range above the E-Series has been given some more performance options. It has a highly-tuned GeForce  GT425M graphics subsystem with 1Gb display RAM for US$50 extra and will be equipped with 2 USB 3.0 ports as standard.

Sony’s answer to the iMac, VAIO L Series, has not been forgotten about. This touchscreen-enabled all-in-one will come with a Blu-Ray burner rather than a Blu-Ray player / DVD burner as the optical drive for the US$2199 premium model.

What I have noticed is that this is an example of Sony adding more value to their Windows 7 VAIO computers as their way of satisfying people who are wanting Macintosh-like aesthetics and performance for the Windows platform.

The proces and specifications quoted here pertain to the US-market VAIO computers but it would be worth checking with the local Sony Style website or your local Sony VAIO computer dealer for the latest prices.

Product Review – Sony VAIO E-Series laptop computer


I am reviewing the Sony VAIO E-Series laptop computer which is Sony’s attempt to create a VAIO laptop that can be positioned as a sole computing device for small business owners and similar people.

Sony VAIO E-Series laptop

RRP AUD$1399

  Review Sample Variants
Processor Intel Core i3  
RAM 4Gb shared with graphics  
Secondary Storage 500Gb HDD 320Gb HDD or 640Gb HDD
  DVD-RW drive BD-ROM Blu-Ray / DVD-RW drive
  SDHC card reader, Memory Stick card reader  
Display Subsystem ATI Mobility Radeon 5650 with 2.8Gb shared memory  
Screen 15” widescreen LED-backlit LCD  
Networking 802.11g/n Wi-Fi wireless 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi wireless
  Gigabit Ethernet  
Connectivity USB 2.0 x 4  
  eSATA x 1 (shared with 1 USB)  
  Video: VGA, HDMI  
  Audio: HDMI digital, 3.5mm Headphones,  for thecrophone in  
  Express-Card 34 expansion slot  


The computer itself

This laptop is another attempt to upstage the MacBook Pro laptops in aesthetics and functionality. It is finished in a cyan-blue housing with a black keyboard and keyboard surround. There are different variations with a larger variety of different colours available for the series.

Processor and RAM

This unit comes with an Intel Core i3 multicore processor and works on 4Gb RAM that is shared with the display subsystem’s memory. This configuration seems to be “de rigeur” for most mid-range laptops offered on the market by the major manufacturers and is capable of handling most office and multimedia tasks.

Secondary Storage

The test sample came with a 500Gb hard disk which has all of the capacity as one logical drive rather than the usual practice of creating separate partitions for recovery data or vendor-supplied tools. There are machines in the range that have 320Gb at a cheaper price or 640Gb at a more expensive price. This is a size that I would find adequate for a computer that is expected to be one’s only computing device used for their work and personal computing needs.

There is a standard DVD burner supplied as the optical drive but you can get a Blu-Ray reader / DVD-burner drive as an extra-cost option.You also have a separate SD card slot and Memory-Stick card slot for removeable storage.

Display subsystem

This computer’s display subsystem is driven by an ATI Mobility Radeon 5650 subsystem with 2.8Gb shared with the system’s main memory. It uses a 15.5” LED-backlit widescreen LCD as the main display but can be connected to an external display device using either a VGA connection or an HDMI connection.

Keyboard and trackpad

Sony VAIO E-Series keyboard and trackpad

Sony VAIO E-Series keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard is a chiclet type with a dedicated numeric keypad that would please business users. It has shied away from  requiring you to press the Fn key to gain access to the standard function keys, a practice that has been required with other competing laptop designs. Yet it is still suitable for long-haul computing tasks because it doesn’t appear to be cramped.

There are dedicated keys for use in gaining access to the VAIO shell extension, the Web and Sony’s VAIO ASSIST program. The trackpad is a similar design to some of the Dell notebooks I have reviewed where it is a recessed area finished in the same style as the palm rest. The buttons that you press to select the option are distinctly different and are actual buttons rather than marked-out areas on the trackpad.

Networking and Connectivity

The computer uses an 802.11g/n Wi-Fi wireless connection or a wired Gigabit Ethernet connection to connect to your network. There is the option of an 802.11a/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi network available at extra cost if you have deployed such a network.

The computer has an ExpressCard-34 slot which you can use for ExpressCard-34 (slim-profile) expansion cards such as wireless-broadband modems. As well, there are four USB 2.0 sockets with one that is shared with an eSATA external-hard-disk socket. You also have a headphone socket and a microphone socket located up front.

Software complement

The VAIO E-Series is powered by the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system but I would recommend that business users use the “Anytime Upgrade” option to upgrade to either Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate to do it justice. There is the complement of multimedia programs that Sony provides for all their VAIO laptops, including a VAIO DLNA media server.

Use Experience

With all optical-drive-equipped laptops, I run them through a DVD run-down test with a movie to assess how long the battery will llast under a difficult environment. This is with the display showing the movie constantly and the optical drive spinning constantly. This unit was able to make through 1 hour, 42 minutes with wireless networking and Bluetooth enabled and 1 hour, 50 minutes without wireless networking and Bluetooth enabled. The DVD playback experience was smooth even with scenes that have a lot of action in them.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This is another laptop that I would consider as being useful as a portable computing device for users who perceive it as their only computing device. This would includ users who want it as a “work-home” laptop. It doesn’t have the same “managed” business-class security complement that some business users would demand but would work as a basic all-around “work-home” laptop. It would also be another machine that I would put on the list of laptop computers that I would recommend to a parent who is giving a laptop to their son or daughter who is starting tertiary education and living at a dorm / hall-of-residence or similar facility.

It is also another machine that can can be considered as a Windows-powered alternative to the Apple MacBook Pro laptop and is priced in the similar range and offers similar performance. It may therefore be considered as a laptop solution for people who are disaffected by Apple’s recent goings-on and want to “move away” from Apple, yet still want a brand-name multimedia-capable laptop.