Portable computers come in a wide variety of flavours, as we all know. And, unlike desktop PCs, which are often an amalgamation of different parts from various manufacturers, as selected by the user, laptops and notebooks are branded products. This, of course, leads to various debates and arguments, regarding which make is better than which. In the end, though, they all tend to be rather similar, and bad experiences that users have with particular brands are more likely the result of a dodgy unit, rather than a poor brand as a whole.
One of the brands that has gained quite a lot of status is Sony’s Vaio range of laptops. You see them pretty often in movies, and people who use them tend to have a bit of a smug air about them. And that’s no surprise, really, because the Vaio range is certainly a reliable one, and tends to be good in terms of performance – even if a bit pricey when all is said and done.
The EH18 is a good mid-range notebook for those who want to have Vaio performance without a decimated bank account. But, as to be expected, a better price point means that it isn’t the top of the line. Still, the specs are quite decent: an Intel i5 processor drives the whole thing along at 2.4GHz, supported by 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. Graphics are taken care of by an Nvidia chipset, using 512MB of VRAM, and visuals are supplied by a 15 inch screen.
It’s not the punchiest machine around, but for work purposes it is not bad at all. And it’s sturdy performance is supported by a good design, too. That said, it isn’t exactly what we’d call sleek. The outside of the unit is finished in a matt black textures plastic. The texture is a sort of diamond shape affair, slightly raised. This carries into the inside of the laptop as well, with the front plate being made of the same material, with an understated, untextured touch pad built in slightly to the left of centre. The full keypad spans the entire width of the device, and features chicklet style keys.
Performance-wise, the EH18 does the job, although it isn’t the kind of powerhouse that some may want in a laptop. Additionally, the sound isn’t great when using the built-in speakers, although it isn’t abysmal either. Naturally, the unit comes with a number of Sony utilities pre-installed, which is generally a bonus (although whether you’ll use all of them is a good question).
Overall, this device is a good performer, but the Sony Vaio name does drive the price up just a little, it seems. Still, at $1339, it’s not a bad deal, although a little more RAM and hard drive space would have been nice. And in terms of high end performance, well…this unit isn’t built for that. It will be fine with things like video playback, but really demanding applications — like games — are not a good option.
If you’re in the market for a reliable mid-range machine that is pretty too, this is a good bet. But it might not be the best deal around.
Verdict: It performs well and looks good, but may not be the best deal you can find.