The Bottom Line
Jan 12 2012 - Sony's updated VAIO EJ laptop is an attempt to give the original version a boost in overall performance by moving from the slower Core i3 to Core i5 mobile processor. This is about the only change made the the laptop and that is a real shame. While it is certainly affordable for a Sony laptop with a $800 price tag, there are just too many alternatives at this price point for other 17-inch laptops that just have a better mix of features for a variety of different users.
- Comfortable Keyboard
- Blu-ray Drive
- Integrated Graphics
- Lacks USB 3.0 or eSATA Ports
- Display Doesn't Fully Support 1080p HD Video
- Intel Core i5-2430M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 640GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Blu-ray Reader And Dual-Layer DVD Burner Combo Drive
- 17.3" WSXGA+ (1600x900) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Four USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, Memory Stick, SD Card Slot
- 16.1" x 10.8" x 1.5" @ 6.9 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, VAIO Suite, Norton Internet Security
Review - Sony VAIO VPCEJ28FX/B
Jan 12 2012 - Sony's 17-inch ambitions may be coming to a close with the VAIO EJ laptop series. As of this writing, the laptop appears to no longer be advertised by Sony but it is still available via retailers. Since Sony's computer business has been primarily about higher tier ultraportables, this isn't terribly surprising especially once you get a closer look at the laptop.
The VAIO VPCEJ28FX/B is an update to last year's model with very minor overall changes. Probably the most notable and beneficial of the changes was moving from the anemic Core i3 to the faster Intel Core i5-2430M dual core processor. This gives the system a bit of a performance boost that is especially beneficial for those looking to use it for media editing as well as playback. It still falters when compared to the quad core Core i7 when it comes to more demanding tasks such as video work but should be sufficient for the average consumer. The memory ist still limited to 4GB of DDR3 memory that helps let Windows 7 run smoothly. The only downside is that many competing systems at the $800 price range have moved to 6GB or more.
The storage features of the updated VAIO EJ laptop remain completely unchanged from the past model. It still features a decently sized 640GB hard drive that offers a fair amount of space for applications, data and media files. It does spin at the slower 5400rpm spin rate still which means it isn't quite as fast as the 7200rpm based laptops or newer ones with solid state and hybrid drives. There is a Blu-ray compatible drive which is useful for watching the high definition movie format on the go. The drive also supports playback and recording of CD or DVD media. The big disappointment is that Sony did not take the time to upgrade the peripheral ports. It still relies on the dated USB 2.0 ports and lacks any USB 3.0 or eSATA ports for use with high speed storage peripherals. They still do offer Bluetooth which is nice but becoming more common for lower cost laptops such as this.
The display and graphics system also remains unchanged from last year's model. The large 17.3-inch display is fairly generic in terms of its performance and is still limited to the 1600x900 resolution. Once again, a media focused laptop that is based around the Blu-ray format can't display 1080p high definition video without using the external HDMI connector with a monitor. This was obviously done to keep the costs down but it should really be the focus for this laptop. The graphics are also still the Intel HD Graphics 3000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. While it is nice that it can boost performance of encoding video with QuickSync enabled applications, it still lacks any real 3D performance for even casual PC gaming.
Isolated or chiclet keyboards were one of the big features that Sony introduced to mobile computers and they continue to use this style with the VAIO EJ series. With the larger size of the laptop, they are able to fit in a full numeric keypad. Overall, the design works well, is quite comfortable and accurate to use. The trackpad is positioned directly below the center of the space bar in their textured palm rest area. It is a bit smaller than some others on the market but it does come with dedicated right and left mouse buttons that are larger and much easier to use than the single thin rocker bars on many consumer laptops.
Sony equips the VAIO EJ series laptops with a fairly typical six-cell battery pack that comes with a 4400mAh capacity rating. Sony claims that this can achieve up to three hours of DVD playback time. In my DVD playback tests, it was just short of this three hour claim but close enough that it is accurate. More typical usage should yield a bit more than four hours at the standard shipped power settings. Blu-ray playback is a bit more demanding and will result in shorter running times. Overall, it is fairly typical for a laptop with these features and battery size.
The competition in the $800 price range would be closest with the ASUS K73E, the Gateway NV73SV and the MSI FR720. The ASUS K73E is the closest in features with a larger battery and hard drive but is larger in size. Gateway's NV75S17u is more affordable, offers more memory and RAM and has better integrated graphics but no Blu-ray drive. Finally, the MSI FR720 offers a faster i7 quad core processor and more RAM but lacks the Blu-ray support. Overall, each of these options is just a bit better than Sony's depending upon the needs of the consumer.