Review: Sony VAIO Fit 15A

Big computers shouldn’t necessarily be chunky, at least that’s what Sony believes, as it puts the 15 inch computer on a diet and gives it a modern, touch friendly form-factor in the VAIO Fit 15A.

Features

Not exactly you’re small run of the mill laptop, the VAIO Fit 15A is a 15 inch computer geared at people who a fair amount of performance coupled with a big screen, which is exactly what this computer has. While most Ultrabooks seem to sit between 11 and 14 inches, with 13 being the most popular size, the 15 inch area is normally dominated by chunky powerhouse computers and just-as-chunky budget boxes.

The VAIO Fit 15A is a little different, though, offering a decently spec’d machine with a form-factor for someone who needs a big screen, but can’t decide between a laptop or tablet. We’re not sure how many people there are out there with these needs, but given that Windows 8 has a preference for touch, it makes sense for Sony to try this.

To make this happen, though, Sony has had to change the form-factor, and instead of using a special hinge or rotating screen, the company has developed a display that folds in half. Specifically, when the screen is locked in position it stays perpendicular to the keyboard, as most laptops do, but when unlocked, allows the display to fold backwards and cover the back of the laptop when closed, turning it into a big tablet.

How big a laptop?

Sony’s VAIO Fit 15A uses a 15.5 inch screen, a little different from the 15.6 inch panels used in most laptops, running a resolution of Full HD or 1920×1080, with Sony’s own Triluminos technology keeping the colours bright and crisp, and with touch enabled across the entire panel.

Under the keyboard, you’ll find the guts of the computer, with an Intel Core i5 processor from the fourth-generation, also known as “Haswell,” clocked at 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM, and a 750GB conventional hard drive, with Intel’s HD4400 taking point for graphics. Windows 8 comes pre-installed on the VAIO Fit 15A.

Ports for the computer are reasonably varied, with three USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, a single wired Gigabit networking port, an SD card slot, and a headset jack supporting both headphones and microphone.

Connections are pretty standard, with 802.11b/g/n (no 802.11ac here), Bluetooth 4.0, and even the inclusion of Near-Field Communication for those odd times you might want to pair a speaker, a pair of headphones, or something banking related by simply touching it to the computer.

Since it’s a computer and not a tablet — even though it can fold into one — you can expect a camera here, though only of the webcam variety, with a high definition webcam sitting above the screen.

The battery is rated for as much as five hours of life.

Performance

Sony returned to the forefront of computer design last year with its 2013 slate of VAIOs, impressing us greatly at the Intel Haswell launch last year, and again when the company let us play with one of the lightest and most-feature rich Ultrabooks we’d ever played with, the VAIO Pro 11.

Unfortunately, Sony decided to hang up its PC roots early in 2014, selling the VAIO business to another company and essentially closing the book on future VAIO computers. This means the VAIO Fit will probably be our last Sony laptop review, at least until Sony decided to revive its PC business and start again, and that’s not even a definite concept at this time.

Despite this sad fact, the VAIO Fit 15A is an interesting product to depart on, not least because its price should essentially drop now that Sony is exiting the PC business, which means customers should be able to find it for less than the $1499 asking price for that fact alone. Rather, the reason the VAIO Fit 15A is interesting is the form factor, which takes on a look that no one else has thought of.

In recent times, computer manufacturers have been struggling, especially in how they appeal to consumers looking for a tablet experience on a laptop. Microsoft tried to force this along with Windows 8, an operating system that drove touch more than any other version of Windows before it, but it wasn’t just the OS that needed the touch evolution applied.

No, the design of the PC has had to change with it, after all, a laptop is hardly a tablet, and a tablet is hardly a laptop.

Many manufacturers have tried to apply various spins on the laptop-tablet hybrid, with the most basic making the traditional laptop screen work with touch, and that works with Windows 8, but it’s not really a hybrid style of machine, but rather a laptop with a touch screen.

Asus, though, practically pioneered the separating laptop design, allowing you to detach the screen section from the keyboard, giving you both concepts for the price of one. Dell tried a different approach last year in one of its XPS Ultrabooks, allowing you to push the screen out from its frame and rotate that in its place, essentially giving you a tablet inside a laptop.

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