Sony VAIO EA Series (VPCEA636FM/V) Review
This fashionable 14-inch notebook delivers lots of style, Blu-ray playback, and fun gesture controls.
Lowest Price: $699.99
It’s more than just a fashion statement. In addition to fun color options and funky keyboard skins, the 14-inch Sony VAIO EA packs in a lot of technology for a reasonable $799. This thin-and-light notebook comes with fun gesture control media software, a Blu-ray drive, and Intel Wireless Display technology for streaming video to your TV (though the receiver box costs extra). So how does the VAIO EA stack up against the competition?
Much like the 15.5-inch VAIO E series, the EA is available in a wide variety of colors, including Caribbean Green, Iridescent Blue, and Passion Purple, along with the more mundane Coconut White, Gunmetal Black, and Lava Black. Ours came in purple, and we really like the look of the swirl pattern. It’s dark purple in the center around the silver VAIO lettering, which fades in a circular dotted pattern to a black-purple around the edges of the lid. The standard keyboard is black, but our system came with a bright teal blue removable keyboard skin (a $19.99 option), which protects against crumbs.
Also like its sibling, the EA’s speaker bar sits just above the keyboard along with three buttons labeled Assist, Web, and VAIO. These buttons open VAIO Care, the default web browser, and Media Gallery, respectively. To the far right of that cluster is the power button, which glows green when the machine is on and red when it’s asleep.
At just 5 pounds, this 13.6 x 9.39 x 1.07-inch laptop is portable enough for occasional travel. We found that the system fit nicely on our lap and on a tray table during a flight. It’s comparable in size to the 5-pound Samsung Q430-11 (13.5 x 9.4 x 1.04 inches). While that aluminum-clad notebook would fit right in at a board meeting, the VAIO EA’s glossy plastic lid is more suited for a living room or college dorm room.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The chiclet-style keyboard on the VAIO EA provided good feedback and a nice overall typing experience. The print on the keys themselves is larger than we’re used to seeing, but it wasn’t distracting. The function keys act like traditional function keys, which meant we had to press the Fn key before we could turn the volume up or down or adjust the screen brightness. We would have preferred inverted function keys that allow you to adjust volume and brightness with one touch.
The multi-touch touchpad on the VAIO EA was a little small for our tastes at 3 x 1.8-inches, but the two discrete mouse buttons provided excellent feedback. Multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom were smooth and easy to execute.
The VAIO EA series remained comfortably cool during use. After playing a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, the keyboard and touchpad measured a reasonable 90 degrees and the underside of the machine registered 92 degrees. We consider anything over 100 degrees to be uncomfortable. We noticed some fan noise after a few hours of using the laptop and playing music, but it wasn’t overly loud or distracting.