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 EC 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 EC 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 EC 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 EC stayed on for just 2 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 Toshiba Satellite A665 and Dell Inspiron 17R are delivering much better battery life thanks in no small part to the newer Intel Core-series processors.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
After spending several weeks with the VAIO EC my overall opinion is that this is a good notebook for a reasonable price. Our review unit is one of the older configurations that is still available in retail outlets (including many SonyStyle brick-and-mortar stores found in shopping malls), but newer configurations offer better processors for a starting price of $750.
It’s a shame we couldn’t test one of those newer configurations, because the slower Pentium-class processor and slower hard drive in our test system proved to be less than impressive. On the bright side, the AMD ATI dedicated graphics give this desktop replacement notebook all the power it needs to handle multimedia applications and some modern games.
The build quality feels a little weak in spots, but the Sony VAIO EC makes a fine multimedia notebook if you’re on a budget … and it’s even more impressive if you buy the newer configurations.
- Good screen resolution
- Solid graphics performance
- Reasonable price
- Average screen contrast
- Poor battery life
- Average build quality