"Sony" and "budget laptop" are two phrases not used to cuddling up next to each other, but here they are almost spooning with the E Series, after the initialflirtation.
Only one of the E series comes with AMD inside though, the rest are Intel. Sony arranged two models for us, which have the soft and cuddly names of VPCEB45FG and VPCEB46FG, with Core i3 and Core i5 respectively.
The E series has actually been around for a while, but it's still hard to get used to the missing trademark of Sony's side-facing power button. While the plastic is incredibly smooth, shiny and there's a definite depth to it, take off the Sony labels and you could have any laptop manufacturer's design, down to the mismatching black keyboard strip.
The keyboard is serviceable, but the textured touch pad is an instant turn off. Expandability is well apportioned given the price range, with three USB ports, a USB/eSATA port, DVD+-RW drive, gigabit Ethernet, VGA and HDMI out, ExpressCard 34 slot, SD card and MS card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, bluetooth and 2.4GHz 802.11n.
Sony's software bundle is decent with only a few blights, the most impressive thing being the bundled copies of Adobe's Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements.
It also includes Office Starter 2010, the first instance we've seen of this. You can choose to buy the full Office Suite, or use the Starter edition, which only includes Word and Excel and is advertising supported, but likely to be all anyone needs. A link to, Sony's new subscription music service, is there too.