Sony Vaio FIT 15 - Sony's Mainstream Notebooks Get A Makeover (Part 2)

7/29/2013 11:43:51 AM

Display and Sound

If you type Ctrl-F to zero in on mentions of "1,366 x 768", this is the only case you'll find related to the Fit series. With a new generation of laptops, Sony more or less standardized 1920x1080 resolutions, with an exception of the Fit 14 laptop line, which starts at a resolution of 1600x900. In any event, 720p is a thing of the past, at least for Sony.

As you might expect, the pixel density of a 15-inch screen with 1080p resolution is not as high as on a smaller computer - assuming, one with 11-inch or 13-inch screen. From the distance of the desk chair, objects such as desktop icons typically look sharper on this OLED screen, and videos in particular look great. In general, we do not have any problems when watching video or reading text from slightly off to the side (good news if you plan on hosting a Game of Thrones marathon in your dorm room). We did notice that colors start to wash out as soon as you push the lid forward, so please fiddle with the angle before leaning back to back to watch a movie.

Sony more or less standardized 1920x1080 resolution

Sony more or less standardized 1920x1080 resolution

If you compare specifications across the Fit line, you will see one of the models has a subwoofer - the first in the mainstream series of Sony laptops. However, the strange thing is that model is not the senior Fit 15 that we are evaluating here, but rather, the entry-level Fit 15E.  Perhaps the limited space is the deciding factor here - the Fit 15 is supposed to be a thin computer, meaning that the compromise sound quality is almost by default. In any case, unless your musical tastes skew more about hip-hop, you should be satisfied with this set. First, it's great - we played some great music with the volume at 61/100, and were really surprised about how forceful the sound was. In quite spaces, we usually keep the volume around 15 or 20, lower than most laptops we tested.

Of course, loud sound doesn't necessarily equate to pleasant sound, but in this case, the quality is also quite balanced. We love hearing everything from The Clash to the Les Mis soundtrack to various jazz numbers. There was one Louis Prima track where the nasal horn section slightly overpowered the other instruments, but in addition, it is easy to listen to on our end.

Normally, we do not have much to say about the webcam on the laptops we've tested - no one expects us to create high-quality images at all. Looking ahead, every new Sony PC will make use of an Exmor R CMOS sensor (yes, the same kind used in Sony digital cameras). In fact, the promise of better pictures in low light is one of the laptop's bigger selling points. And to some extent, that's a gimmick: not sure you will find yourself in situations where you have no choice but to Skype in the dark. However, if you can wait for the results as the sample image above, which makes it appear as if I were sitting in a room with the lights on (they were, in fact, off).

Performance and Battery Life

Sony VAIO Fit 15 (Core i5-3337U 1.8GHz, Intel HD 4000)

·         PCMark7: 4,160

·         3DMark06: 5,222

·         3DMark11: E1215/P664/X223

·         ATTO (top disk speeds): 151MB/s (read); 89MB/s (write)

Sony VAIO Fit 15

Sony VAIO Fit 15

Sony VAIO T15 (Core i5-3337U 1.8GHz, Intel HD 4000)

·         PCMark7: 3,861

·         3DMark06: 5,050

·         3DMark11: E1099/P603

·         ATTO (top disk speeds): 114MB/s (read); 87MB/s (write)

Sony VAIO T15

Sony VAIO T15

The Fit 15 starts at $700, and up to $2,210, so the $949 model we tested falls more toward the low-end range (if one computer is actually close to $1,000 can be called cheap). With this money, you have processor 1.8GHz Core i5-3337U (i.e. Ivy Bridge) with 8GB RAM, 750GB hard drive and Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated. As you can see, the performance is equal (if not slightly better than) the other computer with similar specs. It surpassed a Core i5-enabled T15 in almost all tests, although if you study the reviews of our Ultrabook, you'll see it keeps pace with many Windows 8 ultra-portables. (Well, except for disk performance - most Ultrabooks benefit from all-solid-state storage).

Predictably the 750GB hard drive cannot compete with an SSD in either read or write speeds, but at least Fit 15 is faster than T15, whose read speeds were, on average, almost 40 MB/s slower. More impressive, the startup time of the Fit 15 equals to what we have seen on many faster Ultrabooks - just 11 seconds, you will be fully loaded into the Start Screen. It is equal to a $1,200 ultraportable, but not on a mainstream laptop: the T15 takes 20 seconds to boot.

Sony rates the Fit 15 for up to three hours and 45 minutes, pretty accurate, at least according to our tests. The model we tested has lasted 3 hours 37 minutes of video playback (with Wi-Fi open and the brightness fixed at 65%). That's not great for a 15-inch laptop but then again, it is heavy enough so that you will plug it in at the desk most of the time.

Software and warranty

The Sony's preinstalled applications extend over 8 small tiles on the Start Menu - not exactly a small load here. As on the other computers, you will find many third-party programs, such as Hulu Plus, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, My Daily Clip, PuzzleTouch and Intel's AppUp store. At the same time, Sony has included several proprietary software, including VAIO Update, PlayMemories Home, VAIO Movie Creator, VAIO Control Center and Metro style apps normally only for Windows 8 (which will be Socialife, Music and Album).

The Sony's preinstalled applications extend over 8 small tiles on the Start Menu

The Sony's preinstalled applications extend over 8 small tiles on the Start Menu

Sony also launched the Imagination Studio package, which costs around $ 200, including ACID Music Studio 9.0, Movie Studio Platinum 12.0, DVD Architect Studio 5.0 and Sound Forge Audio. Sony plans to bundle that suite on every new PC it releases this summer. Finally, Sony has included ArtRage Studio, which you will find on such systems that support different sensors from Sony.

The Fit 15, as all Fit models (and all consumer PCs in general), comes with 1 year warranty, including telephone support 24/7.

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