Sony Vaio Fit 14 review: An exemplary thin-and-light laptop

While we're on the subject of configurations, the Fit actually comes in two versions and two sizes: the Fit 14 and Fit 15, and the Fit E 14 and Fit E 15. The Fit 14 and 15 are available from Best Buy and Sony Direct. The Fit 15 has a full-size backlit keyboard with an integrated number pad, a Blu-ray burner, and a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution display. Both are configurable on Sony Direct with a Nvidia GT735M graphics card and SSD.

The Fit E 14 and E 15 are available from other retailers and don't have the aluminum lid and palm rest; they are slightly thicker and heavier and don't have hybrid hard drives. You can, however, get them with a higher-performance Nvidia GT740M graphics card and they have larger speakers, including a subwoofer in the Fit E 15. The starting price is $100 less for the Fit E at $549.

Worth mentioning, too, is that Sony includes four of its own software titles for movie and music creation: Movie Studio Platinum, ACID Music Studio, Sound Forge Audio Studio, and DVD Architect Studio. Also, if you want to take advantage of the touch screen for drawing and painting, ArtRage Studio is preinstalled as well (however, since the screen doesn't lie completely flat, it can be a bit awkward to use).

Sarah Tew/CNET

The base $649 Fit 14 we tested did very well in our performance tests, holding its own against more-expensive systems from Asus and Toshiba with similar components. If you're looking for a laptop for schoolwork or basics like Web browsing, e-mail, and word processing, as well as simple photo and video editing, the Fit 14 has plenty of muscle. It can handle casual gaming or more demanding games with settings dialed down, but in general, this configuration isn't meant for that.

We've gotten so used to manufacturers exaggerating battery life over the years that we were a bit surprised when the Vaio Fit 14 actually hit within a couple minutes of Sony's engineering estimate of 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Of course, that time will vary depending on what you're doing and how you have the laptop set up, but we're not disappointed by that time for this system. However, if you need better battery life than that without sacrificing the rest of what this system offers, you'll probably have to spend more money.

The Sony Vaio Fit 14 is a pretty excellent laptop for the money. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a general-purpose system that can handle day-to-day tasks. The fact that it looks and feels nice is a bonus, too.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Load test (average watts)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.

System configurations:

Sony Vaio Fit SVF14A15CXB
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 3427; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB HD + 8GB SSD Toshiba 5,400rpm hard drive

Toshiba Satellite U845T-S4165
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Toshiba SSD

Asus VivoBook S500C
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB HD + 24GB SSD

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 Sleekbook
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/SP 1; 1.8GHz AMD A8-455M APU; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 512MB (Shared) AMD Radeon HD 7600G; 750GB Seagate 5,400rpm hard drive

Dell Inspiron 15z
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 500GB HD + 32GB SSD