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Sony Vaio E Series 17-inch review: Sony Vaio E Series 17

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The Good Decent performance; Full HD screen; Blu-ray drive.

The Bad Plastic construction feels a little cheap.

The Bottom Line The Sony Vaio E Series 17 offers decent overall performance, along with a Full HD screen and a Blu-ray player. Nearly every part is configurable when you buy it so you can opt for lesser specs if you can't afford this top model.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

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If watching movies in bed or on your sofa is your thing, a 17-inch laptop could be your perfect companion. Sony's new E Series is such a machine, offering a Full HD screen and a Blu-ray player to get the most from your films.

My review model came with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon HD 7650M graphics card, for which you'd pay £870 from Laptops Direct.

Alternatively, head over to the Sony store and you can select lesser options of nearly all the components, bringing the price down to £490 for the base model, but you won't get anything like the same performance.

Design and build

If you're in the market for a new 17-inch laptop, odds are that portability isn't high on your list. By their nature, 17-inchers are going to be chunky guys and the E 17 is no exception. It's wide, it's 35mm thick and it's heavy. You're really going to have to find a big, strong bag to carry it around.

Sony Vaio E Series 17 closed
The E Series 17 eschews the flighty man-about-town dimensions of an ultrabook for the dependable heft of a stay-at-home sofa dweller.

Of course, laptops of this size are meant for the home, where the only transportation they undergo is between the sofa, the bed and the toilet, so its size isn't necessarily a problem. If you do need to take it anywhere distant, just make sure you've done a few upper-back exercises before setting off.

The entire chassis is made from a black matte plastic (or white, if you've gone for that colour option), which gives it a stark, monolithic appearance. On the lid you'll see the Vaio branding that you'll no doubt want to show off to your mates. But make sure you give it a polish first as that plastic is a total fingerprint trap.

The chassis is very plasticky but feels fairly firm -- although there's some flex in the lid and on the keyboard tray. The wrist rest and hinges feel very secure though, so I'm confident it's at least burly enough to withstand a life in the average family's living room.

Sony Vaio E Series 17 back
The plasticky body does flex a little, but you're unlikely to be lugging this chunky chap about too much.

The keyboard is a pretty standard isolated affair, which on my model was backlit. It's an additional extra though, so if you never type with the lights off then you can probably do without. It's perfectly comfortable to type on for fairly long periods and it has a separate numeric keypad on the right for all the number fun you could want.

The trackpad is pretty small, especially when you consider all the spare plastic surrounding it. I don't think it's too much to ask of Sony to provide more finger-sliding space. Still, it's at least fairly responsive and has a satisfying click, which makes nippy web browsing that much more pleasant.

Screen

The 17.3-inch display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels -- that's Full HD to you and me. The standard model comes with a 1,600x900-pixel resolution, which you'll find perfectly adequate for most office tasks, but if you're a serial movie addict and you've also plumped the extra for the Blu-ray player, it's probably worth laying down the extra £40 for a Full HD screen.

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