The Vaio name for laptops has been relatively quiet for a long time. But with Nexstgo’s Vaio E15, that changes. This entry-level laptop may not be a staple choice for many consumers but is it worth considering?
Design and build quality
Nexstgo’s focus with the Vaio E15 is to target a young audience. And to some extent, the laptop does that. Its finish and design is sleek with minimal Vaio branding on its lid and deck. Vaio also claims that the lid of the laptop has a geometric pattern finish but it was not visible with our unit perhaps because the finish is limited to certain configurations.
It is hard to fault the Vaio E15 in terms of ergonomics either. Nexstgo has worked to ensure that its sunken hinge design gives the laptop a naturally slanting angle. This helps with typing as well as airflow however the support on the laptop lid’s underside is a bit too tough. This means if you are using the laptop on your lap, it will prick you and make for an uncomfortable long-term experience. We pointed this out on Asus laptops two years ago and since then, the company has worked to make the experience a lot more comfortable. In light of this, we are sure Nexstgo can do the same.
But ergonomics and looks aside, the laptop’s build quality needs improvement. It seems like the Vaio E15 is made of plastic which does not give it a reassuring feel. Creaks are part of everyday usage, the laptop’s hinge is loose and the display has a significant amount of flex to it. While the 19.9mm thickness of the chassis and the 1.77kg weight makes it portable, we feel in trying to achieve this, sacrifices have been made. Given that the machine is made for youngsters and on-the-go usage, its build sacrifices are a big let down. You will need to carry the Vaio E15 in a case to avoid any damage and one is provided out of the box.
The Vaio E15 sports a 15.6-inch Full HD resolution display. The IPS LCD boasts some good viewing angle and colors. Moreover, its design is extremely modern with relatively thin bezels all across the board. Arguably, its sacrifices in build quality are made up for with display performance.
While you will not see the rich colors or deep blacks typical to an OLED panel, we are not complaining. For watching a Netflix series, sports or any other form of content, the display does not disappoint. For the majority of our testing though, we used the panel indoors and even then, we felt it was not bright enough in certain situations. Keeping that in mind, the panel may be a challenge to use in outdoor conditions despite its anti-glare coating.
Accompanying the display is a dual-stereo speaker setup. It lacks depth and volume but is enough for a basic experience. A lot of its underwhelming performance is due to its bottom-firing positioning. This means the speakers easily get muffled when the laptop is on a sofa or a bed. To perhaps make this a bit better, Nexstgo could have positioned the speakers centrally at the bottom rather than at the edge towards the user. The central positioning could have paired well with the machine’s natural slant during usage for a slightly better audio experience.
Connectivity and I/O
In terms of both wired and wireless connectivity, the Vaio E15 has you covered. On its left edge, you find a Kensington lock, a Type-A USB 3.1 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD reader. On the right, there is an HDMI 1.4 port, a Type-C USB 3.1 port, a Type-A USB 3.1 port and the proprietary power input.
This selection means the laptop is ready for most things. We connected it to an external monitor via the HDMI 1.4 port alongside using its Type-A and Type-C USB ports for data transfer. You can also use these for port expansion for things such as Ethernet and a full-size SD card reader. The lack of a fingerprint scanner is a notable omission which we think should be standard on laptops in 2021.
As for wireless connectivity, you find both Bluetooth and WiFi support. However, something worth mentioning is that this is our second unit of the machine. In our first, we faced issues with the WiFi adapter being absent on the laptop. This was an odd occurrence and reading into it a bit more, we found that is common on Vaio laptops. But ever since we have got the replacement unit, we have faced no such problems.
Keyboard and trackpad
Given the size of the Vaio E15, there is a full-size keyboard with a dedicated number pad on its deck. Speaking of the deck, it feels more solid than other parts of the machine. The chic-let keys on it are well spread out and are easy to adjust to. However, the typing experience leaves a bit to be desired which we think is due to the flat keys instead of the more ergonomic subtly curved keys we see on other laptops. This is much like the laptop’s overall build quality with the keys and keystrokes feeling slightly cheap. Certain keys also wobble a bit more than others and sometimes get stuck which makes for an inconsistent typing experience.
To be fair to the keyboard, you get full access to a row of function keys. And for usage in darker environments, the keyboard supports two levels of white backlighting. But if you intend to do a lot of word processing, using an external keyboard may be a better option. As for the trackpad, you find a fairly standard experience. Tracking is good and the click experience is decent as well. And to be honest, we do not have anything particular to complain about. Perhaps a slightly larger size would have made Windows 10 gestures a bit easier to execute.
Inside, the Vaio E15 sports some good processing power. In our unit, you find the Ryzen 5 3500 processor with Radeon Vega Mobile graphics. There is also 8GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. The latter is a nice convenience especially at this price point. And in terms of data processing, multitasking and even light content creation, the laptop’s internals keep up fairly well. We are happy with how the machine handles complex timelines even at 4K resolution on Adobe Premiere Pro, which is definitely pushing it to the extreme.
The graphics on-board can also handle a bit of gaming but nothing too complex. But even with a light load, the underside of the Vaio E15, especially near the hinge area becomes warmer than usual. This is even more pronounced when watching videos or editing files, so much so that the laptop’s fan goes into overdrive sporadically.
This is a bigger problem when you use the laptop on a softer surface, where its natural incline cannot take advantage of improved airflow as much. When you are constantly moving around and changing surroundings, this is difficult to adjust to. Thankfully, this extra heat does not conduct through the chassis of the deck. So, if you are using the keyboard or the trackpad, you should not feel it as much. But despite of this, Nexstgo should look into controlling thermals for its future Vaio release.
There is a 37.2Wh battery of the Vaio E15 which is definitely on the smaller side for a device so big. With mixed usage, the battery should give you between 5-5.5 hours. This testing is based on the display set to half brightness without any keyboard backlighting enabled. When watching continuous video, the battery will last between 3-3.5 hours before you having to plug it in.
Speaking of plugging in, we think Nexstgo missed an opportunity here. Instead of using a proprietary charging input, it could have looked into Type-C USB charging. This would have enabled not just a faster charging experience but also one that is more convenient than having to carry a dedicated charger, which sports a frail build quality. Unfortunately, recharging is something you will do quite often as we do not see the Vaio E15 lasting one full day on a single charge.
The entry of the Nexstgo Vaio E15 paves the way for the Vaio lineup. While the laptop has its fair share of issues, it does both display and internals correctly. It may not replace your desktop-grade gaming setup, but it is a decent work-from-home or school-from-home companion. For it to become a true on-the-go machine, Vaio needs to improve its build quality, typing experience, battery life and pricing. At Dh2,899, the machine falls in an extremely saturated and competitive price bracket with nothing of note making it stand out.