- Stylized design
- Vibrant touch-enabled display
- Comfortable keyboard
- No SSD
- Poor battery life
Solid all-around notebook with great visuals albeit limited battery life.
If there is one thing you can say about Sony, it’s that they know how to build an alluring notebook; and the Sony VAIO Fit is no exception to that rule. With its sleek form factor and clean metallic frame, the 15.6-inch VAIO Fit emanates a sophisticated vibe that most notebooks strive for.
However, the issue with the VAIO series has never been its visual appeal, but instead, the specs that lie underneath. While the Sony VAIO Fit won’t blow users away, its Intel i5 processor and 8GB of RAM are more than enough to meet the needs of the average user. Add in the comfortable keyboard, excellent touch-enabled display, and Sony’s patent gripping visuals and you have a device that offers a well-rounded experience.
However, priced just shy of $1,000, users may be looking for a bit more from the Sony VAIO Fit. Is Sony’s clean design and aesthetic worth the price tag? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
Sony, and more particularly the VAIO brand, is known for its stylish design and the Sony VAIO Fit is all too happy to live up to that claim. The Fit is comprised of a silver metallic casing that encompasses the entire chassis. The protective surface manages to catch the light showing off its horizontal texture. Admittedly, the metallic chassis can become reflective in direct light, but the glint in most cases appears tame and tasteful. The end result is an elegant aesthetic that never feels too flashy. Its clean design extends even to the machine’s minute details including the stylish embroidered “VAIO” that lies on the front of the back panel of the display.
While the Sony VAIO offers the visual aesthetic of an ultra-think notebook, its actually a bit bulkier than most users would expect. Measuring in at 14.8″ x 10.1″ x 0.9″ and weighing in just a bit over 5lbs. the Sony VAIO Fit offers a bit of heft. The VAIO Fit hides its girth well though, employing an intelligent curved design that makes the notebook look and feel like it’s smaller and lighter than it actually is. The VAIO’s stylized design offers a fair bit of use as well; as the curved display panel actually serves to prop up the keyboard when lifted, providing a more accessible typing angle.
The most noticeable downside to the VAIO’s design is its limited durability. The base of the chassis faired very well resisting pressure completely. The real issue resides with the display, which proves to be far frailer. During our tests, the display flexed easily when pressure was applied and there was a noticeable rippling that occurred on screen. That being said, the VAIO should still hold up perfectly fine to the normal wears and tears of travel, just don’t expect the machine to withstand direct impact or a fall.
Ports and Features
The Sony VAIO Fit provides a solid offering of ports, though the placing may leave something to be desired. The ports are overloaded to the left side of the device, while only the optical drive adorns the right. The left side of the device offers a power jack, Ethernet port, HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a headphone Jack and SD card reader.
While the spacing is suitable for most of the ports, the USB ports are close enough that a bulky USB drive (or other USB device) could easily obstruct one of the other USB ports. Besides the spacing, there isn’t too much to complain about. Users may notice the absence of a VGA port, but there are plenty of VGA to HDMI adapters available to remedy that. More troubling may be the fact that there are only USB ports along the left-hand side of the device, meaning users looking to connect a mouse will have to wrap it along the backside of the device. Not a major issue, but a minor inconvenience for users who prefer a USB mouse over the standard touchpad.
With its new VAIO Fit line Sony is including Sony Imagination Studio “VAIO” Edition software; which offers Movie Studio Platinum, ACID Music Studio, Sound Forge Audio Studio, and DVD Architect. Additionally the VAIO also comes pre-installed with ArtRage Studio. All together the software package is valued at over $200, and while not a selling point for the machine, the addition of these programs is a nice bonus to users.
Screen and Speakers
In line with the notebooks eye-catching design, the Sony VAIO houses a solid 15.6-inch back-lit touch-enabled HD display. The screen offers a full 1920 x 1080 resolution, providing a bright clear image with solid color contrast.
While the glossy screen can at times produce reflections (especially when in direct lightning), the screen offers an excellent viewing experience when viewed from a straight on angle. The screen also boasts generous horizontal viewing angles with images holding up well past 100 degrees. Admittedly the display does not hold up as well on the vertical axis, as the image quality quickly diminishes when the display is tilted both forwards and backwards.
The added touch capabilities are a nice addition, especially with Windows 8. With full multi-finger gesture support, users can easily control the device with touch controls alone, forgoing the touchpad altogether if they wish. Each swipe and gesture reads wonderfully as well, with little to no lag. Multi-finger gestures also read well, as there were only a few exceptions where the display failed to read a gesture.
The VAIO’s speakers are located above the keyboard on the surface slanting towards the display. The Realtek HD speakers on their own are able to provide modest audio levels acceptable for personal use, but the limited amplification will struggle to provide an entire room with audio. While the speakers managed to provide clear quality, the sound is also shallow and devoid of bass.
To help augment the audio experience, the VAIO Fit includes Clear Audio+, which helps users to amplify and adjust their audio settings. The software comes with a preset for music and video along with two customizable slots. Additionally, the software is enabled by default, meaning that most users will likely keep this featured enabled without knowing it is even there.
The presets for Clear Audio + helps to boost the amplification of the speakers, but it comes at the cost of clarity. With Clear Audio + enabled (on the music preset), the speakers provide great amplification certainly enough to provide audio for an entire room, but there was also more distortion as a product. Admittedly the distortion is likely not drastic enough to phase most users, but the drop in quality was apparent while listening to an orchestral piece on the device.
For those who want to get more granular with their audio settings, Clear Audio + allows users to tweak a number of variables for both the embedded speakers or an external device. Users can customize a number of things including surround sound, loudness levels (for the embedded speaker), even the frequency levels can be adjusted. While I’m personally a huge fan of customization, the utility offered by Clear Audio + feels somewhat stunted by the quality of the built in speakers. The addition certainly helps to boost the usability of the speakers, but users looking for a premium audio experience will be best served by turning the feature off and using the audio settings provided by an external device.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Sony VAIO Fit offers a full-backlit Chiclet style keyboard complete with number pad. Each key is fitted with a glossy texture that feels smooth to the touch adding extra friction, making it easier for user to grip the keys as they type. Key compression is somewhat shallow, but the limited key depth is negated by the machine’s strong tactile feedback. With responsive feedback and texture finish, the VAIO offers a comfortable typing experience for users.
The VAIO Fit also offers a generously-sized touchpad, located directly below the spacebar of the keyboard. The touchpad (equipped with Synaptics drivers) is devoid of mouse buttons; instead the pad designates the lower right and left hand portions of the pad to act as the desired mouse buttons. While there is nothing wrong with that design choice, the touchpad does not designate exactly where those designated portions begin and end; making it extremely easy for users to miss-click as they search for the proverbial “sweet spot”.
After some time with the device I became more acquainted with the touchpad and it became easier to find the left and right mouse button portions of the touchpad; but it would still be helpful if the VAIO designated exactly where those portions were.