If you're not one to be lured by the low cost of ultraportable Ultrabooks, experts say the Sony Vaio E15 SVE1511AFXS is the best cheap laptop you can buy thanks to its blend of powerful components, attractive design, extensive port selection and relatively low price.
The Vaio E15 is available in a wide range of configurations, but critics point to this build as the best one around thanks to its potent blend of a third-generation Intel Core i5 CPU and 6 GB of RAM, which helps the notebook blaze through all but the demanding tasks even while multitasking. The roomy 750 GB hard drive is massive for a cheap laptop. That power comes at the price of below-average battery duration, though. The lack of discrete graphics limits the Vaio E15's game-playing power; if you want to get your game on, reviewers suggest picking up the Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 (Discontinued) and its discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics, instead.
The button-less clickpad divides reviewers. The majority find it very comfortable, but a minority think it's jumpy and yearn for a traditional two-button design. The backlit keyboard wins praise all around, however, despite having a small amount of flex. The wide variety of available ports also garners positive comments.
Reviewers unanimously praise the notebook's sharp-looking redesign, but they also say the 1,366-by-768-pixel resolution and dim look of the display are downers. The colors look great, though; reviewers say they're nice and vibrant. Listening to music on the Vaio E15 should be a treat, as experts report it has clear, crisp and loud audio.
The company won a 2012 Readers' Choice award from PCMag.com for the high quality of its latest laptops and desktops, and Sony offers a wide range of support options, including help via the phone, email and web forums.
It might be pushing the upper limits of the cheap laptop price range, but it's rare to find a sub-$800 laptop that packs this much performance firepower into a package that's so attractive, comfortable and versatile. Sony's rock-solid recent reputation is just icing on the cake.
Several well-established sources put the Sony Vaio E15 SVE1511AFXS under an intense and well-documented microscope, including PCMag.com, CNET, Laptop Magazine, PC World and ComputerShopper.com.
PCMag.com gives the Sony Vaio E15 an "Excellent" rating and the Editors' Choice award for best desktop replacement notebook. Brian Westover says it's "a strong laptop, combining slick design and solid construction with a healthy selection of hardware and software and plenty of features."
Review: Sony Vaio E15 (SVE15116FXS), Brian Westover, June 4, 2012
2. Laptop Magazine
Laptop Magazine's review of the Sony Vaio E15 hits many of the same notes as the PC World critique, right down to the 4 (out of 5) rating. Sherri L. Smith says the dim display, short battery life and subpar webcam keep this notebook from achieving portable perfection.
Review: Sony Vaio E15 Review, Sherri L. Smith, June 4, 2012
CNET's Dan Ackerman only gives the Sony Vaio E15 a 3.5 rating. He agrees with the other reviewers about the notebook's highlights, but he places larger credence on the laptop's comparatively low-resolution display and heft in the age of ultraportable Ultrabooks.
Review: Sony Vaio E Series E15116FXS Review, Dan Ackerman, June 4, 2012
4. Computer Shopper
Reviewer Matthew Elliot joins the majority in assessing the Sony Vaio E15's high points, but he also only gives it a 3.5 rating -- though for a different reason than CNET's Ackerman. He simply finds the button-less clickpad awkward and difficult to use. He says you'll love the laptop if you can get past that, though.
Review: Sony Vaio E Series (SVE15116FXS) Review and Ratings, Matthew Elliot, June 4, 2012
5. PC World
PC World loves the overall design and modern, powerful components found in the Sony Vaio E15. But reviewer Jon L. Jacobi also is among those who dislike the clickpad, and he wishes there was an option to replace the hard drive with a speedier solid-state drive.
Review: Sony Vaio E15 (SVE15116FXS), Jon L. Jacobi, June 29, 2012