Sony's low-end laptops are getting a makeover today: the company has introduced the new VAIO Fit line of entry-level notebooks, though calling them "entry-level" seems to be something of a disservice. The Fit E starts at $549, but it offers Intel's Core processors, discrete Nvidia graphics, hybrid hard drives, and a roomy keyboard and trackpad. In person, the notebook feels much more premium than its price tag, and the $649 Fit (no E) does even better thanks to a handsome aluminum chassis — the Fit models are thick enough to fit an optical drive, and they're certainly not light enough to be considered ultrabooks, but they're certainly slimmer than most budget laptops. They're available in 14- and 15-inch models, in black, silver, and pink.
"We're not going to offer 1366 x 768. We've killed that."
"We're really focusing on the power of Sony," VAIO product manager Travis Furst told The Verge. That means collaboration among the company's many parts, that "One Sony" every employee seems to want to talk about. The Fit's most important spec its display, with a nod to Sony's TV division: they come with 1600 x 900 or 1920 x 1080 touchscreens and nothing else. "We're not going to offer 1366 x 768," reps said. "We've killed that."
Sony's other two pillars are audio quality and imaging — the Fit and Fit E promise huge webcam improvements from the camera team, and much bigger and better sound than you'd expect from a laptop thanks to the company's many audio engineers. In a Ke$ha-filled demo, the laptop sounded good, though not notably better than any of the other software-enhanced notebook speakers we've seen recently — regardless, it's nice to see manufacturers caring about audio quality for a change. The Fit is definitely geared toward the back-to-school set, and also offers an iLife-like set of software for photo, video, and audio editing.
Fit will be a catch-all term for this breed of laptop at Sony, as the company tries to simplify its offerings. "We've had E Series, T Series, things like that in the past," Furst said. "Fit kind of combines the best of those, and puts it into one easy-to-understand series." That's why even though Sony's continuing to sell the VAIO T Series 15 and few others, they're an increasingly marginalized part of its offering — Sony has Duo and Tap, and now it has Fit. As Sony continues to attempt to once again define itself as a maker of premium products, the Fit appears to provide a pretty impressive baseline.