Heat and Noise
While the heat output from most modern general purpose notebooks is a minor issue, we take the time to measure external chassis temperatures anyway. “Lap burn” is a common complaint among many average consumers who use their notebooks as “laptops” for hours at a time. During normal usage (low or idle CPU activity) the VAIO EA stayed reasonably cool to the touch. The plastics on the top and bottom of the chassis never reached unacceptable temperatures and the only area that came close to dangerously hot was the heat exhaust … and you should be smart enough not to press the vent against your leg anyway.
Fan noise was moderate compared to similarly-sized notebooks with integrated graphics. While idle the fan inside the VAIO EA was either inactive or extremely silent. After prolonged use or after being stressed with high-performance applications like video editing software or benchmarking tools the system fan kicked into high gear and was loud enough to be noticeable in a quite office or classroom environment.
If there is any significantly underwhelming feature to the Sony VAIO EA it has to be battery life. Modern notebooks with integrated graphics and standard batteries shouldn’t have any trouble providing more than four hours of battery life in a continuous use situation. In our tests with the screen brightness reduced to 70%, wireless active and refreshing a webpage every 60 seconds, and Windows 7 in the “Balanced” power mode, the VAIO EA stayed on for just 3 hours and 48 minutes. That’s not bad at all compared to battery life from older Intel Core 2 Duo based laptops, but newer notebooks like the HP Envy 14 managed 5 hours and 15 minutes and the Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 stayed on for 4 hours and 52 minutes in the same test.
The Sony VAIO EA is solid 14-inch laptop with some attractive design elements, good performance and a few frustrating issues. The 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of system memory and a sizeable 500GB hard drive come together to provide plenty of bang for your buck. The attractive exterior, nice keyboard, and ExpressCard slot for upgrading ports also make the VAIO EA quite attractive for laptop shoppers.
Unfortunately, the fact that this notebook can’t deliver 4 hours of non-stop battery life might be a deal breaker for people who are comparison shopping on a budget. The lack of USB 3.0 is pretty common for general use laptops and at least this notebook has an ExpressCard slot. I loved the optional keyboard skin so much that I wish it came standard with the notebook.
Overall, the VAIO EA is an affordable Sony laptop with enough performance and features to keep most users happy.
- Includes ExpressCard slot
- Good value
- Decent performance
- Sub-par battery life
- No USB 3.0
- Optional keyboard skin isn’t standard