We were impressed by the low-cost Vaio Fit 15E laptop that we reviewed from Sony recently, but Sony also makes a more expensive version called the ‘Vaio Fit 15' (with no ‘E'). This provides greater performance as well as additional features such as a touch-sensitive screen with full HD resolution, but doesn't seem to be quite such good value for money. See also: Group test: what's the best high-end laptop?
Prices start at £559.00 for a model with a 14-inch screen and a modest i3 processor, but we reviewed the top-of-the-range model that costs £1037.99 with a 15-inch touch-sensitive screen, an Ivy Bridge i7 processor running at 2GHz, 8GB of memory and 1TB hard disk. The hard drive is a basic 5400rpm model, but is backed up by an 8GB solid-state module to improve performance. Our review unit also included a DVD writer and an nVidia GeForce GT 735M for dedicated graphics – although you can save £40 by omitting the GeForce card, which will bring the price down to just under £1000.00. See also The 8 best laptops: What's the best laptop you can buy in 2013?
It's a neatly designed laptop, with brushed aluminium panels that look very smart but are also sturdy enough to provide good protection when you're out and about. The 1920x1080 screen provides a bright, attractive image that works well for viewing video, web browsing or working with high-res photos. But while the vertical viewing angle is good, the horizontal viewing angle was more limited and we found ourselves having to nudge the screen a number of times during our tests in order to improve visibility. The speakers are reasonably loud, but the sound they produce is rather harsh and tinny, which was a disappointment after the impressive speakers of the less expensive Fit 15E. These are only minor complaints, but they're not what you'd expect from a laptop costing over £1000.00.
Still, the keyboard and trackpad are spacious and comfortable to work with, and the trackpad is similar to that used on Apple's MacBook range, with the entire surface of the trackpad acting as a single large button. This means that you can almost forget about the traditional mouse buttons and perform most tasks – apart, of course, from a right-click – without lifting your hand away from the surface of the trackpad. In fact, we prefer this to the touch-screen controls on this model – which can also be omitted for a saving of a further £80.00.
Performance is good for a laptop with a 5400rpm drive – that solid-state module clearly does its job, boosting the Vaio Fit 15 to a score of 4573 when running the PCMark 7 benchmark. That's more than adequate to handle a wide range of computing tasks, including photo- and video editing – which will also benefit from the 8GB of memory and large hard disk.
It can handle some decent gaming action too, cruising to 61fps when running Stalker: Call Of Pripyat at 1280x720 with medium graphics settings. And it maintained a respectable 34fps even when we increased Stalker to full 1920x1080 resolution.
The one real disappointment in terms of performance was battery life. Sony only quotes a maximum of 4.5 hours, and even when we switched to the less power-hungry Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, the Vaio Fit 15 still fell just short of four hours (235m) when streaming video on the BBC iPlayer. That's not very impressive for a laptop costing over £1000.00 – especially with similarly priced Haswell laptops that can now run all day long with ease.
THe Vaio Fit 15 isn't particularly portable either. To be fair, the 2.3Kg weight and 25mm thickness aren't bad for a 15-inch laptop with a build-in DVD drive, but it's still quite a weight to carry around in a briefcase or laptop, so the Vaio Fit 15 will probably spend most of its time at home.