Sony Vaio VPCEC3S0E/WI £919
6th Feb 2011 | 10:23
A great-looking, high-powered desktop replacement that's very easy to like
Sony's VAIO E-Series has been very popular of late, offering a range of high-quality yet affordable machines that are ideal for home use. The VAIO VPCEC3S0E/WI (£919 inc. VAT) is a big-screen model aimed at those seeking a stylish desktop replacement.
Using a combination of white and silver plastics, the large chassis looks every bit the high-end home media centre and looks great in the home office or living room.
With its huge 17.3-inch screen this is a laptop designed strictly for home use. The chassis is by far the largest in this group test and is not one that you'll want to carry far. At 3.1kg, it is a little lighter than we had expected, however, so you can work around the house in comfort.
Of course, the benefit of such a large screen is the excellent multi-tasking and multimedia abilities it provides. Multiple windows can be placed side by side with ease and movies and photos look great, thanks to the stunning brightness, colour and contrast the screen provides. The screen also features the highest resolution in this group test, allowing it to provide stunningly sharp images.
While it is not fully HD compatible, it renders software, photos and videos with impressive clarity, adding to the entertainment ability of this machine. With a dedicated ATi graphics card driving the screen, there is plenty of power for playing games, watching high-definition (HD) videos and editing your photos.
The HP Envy is significantly more powerful in this area, however, reducing the impact of the Sony somewhat.
Home office performance is more in line with its rivals in this group and equally capable. The Intel Core i5 processor runs software with effortless speed and makes it easy to multi-task several applications at once.
Usability is excellent. The wide chassis provides enough room for a full-sized, isolation-style keyboard and features a dedicated numeric keypad. Along with the Asus U53Jc Bamboo, this is one of only two laptops here to feature such a pad.
Adding to the value of the Sony is its excellent software. Microsoft Office Starter provides market-leading word processing and spreadsheet tools, while McAfee Internet Security will help to keep your laptop safe against the plethora of online threats currently out there.
Offering stunning big-screen usability and ample power, the VAIO VPCEC3S0E/WI is a fantastic home laptop. While it lacks the graphics performance or battery life of some of its rivals, there is more than enough to compensate, making it a worthy winner.