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Sony VAIO CA1 review

Verdict

Hugely powerful for such a small and stylish laptop, although the display is a weak point

Review Date: 21 Feb 2011

Reviewed By: Luke Sampson

Price when reviewed: £625 (£750 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

The Sandy Bridge recall has left cutting-edge review laptops thin on the ground this month, but we can bring you a member of Sony’s newest VAIO family. With a 14in screen, the VAIO CA1 sits just above the S and Z Series in the size range, and it’s being introduced for an exclusive period through John Lewis in the UK.

That should tell you that it’s aiming to appeal visually, so we weren’t surprised to see a swish new design when we pulled it from its box. The lid features an eye-catching two-tone black and grey design, and closer inspection reveals a subtle diamond pattern on the latter that glistens as it catches the light.

Throw open the lid and, with the exception of the front and back edges, the same pattern covers the whole base – except this time it’s beneath a layer of clear plastic slightly tinged with purple. The combination certainly does its key job of making an impression, although perhaps not one that will suit most tastes.

Sony VAIO CA1 - front

The CA1 is also built to a higher standard than you might expect given its size. That purple plastic bends a little under pressure but not to a worrying degree, and there’s no undue flex in the lid. Despite the firm build, it’s just 25mm thick and weighs a reasonable 2.28kg.

The backlit keyboard sits in its own island in the middle of that purple sea of plastic, and the Scrabble-tile keys feel smooth under the finger and offer just the right travel and feedback. We’re not huge fans of the textured touchpad, but it’s nippy and responsive, as are the buttons that sit beneath it.

Around the base you’ll find the usual extras: the VAIO and web quick-buttons above the keyboard; a Memory Stick and SD card slot on the front edge alongside a wireless switch. That controls the 802.11n WLAN chip, and you also get Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet. On the right side sit two USB 2 ports next to the DVD writer, while the left sees one further USB 2 port and a single USB 3 offering. For video outputs you have the choice of HDMI and D-SUB.

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User comments

A performance laptop with a sorry excuse for a screen

All that money and a 720p screen. While Sandy Bridge is good, WSXGA+ is better in a performance laptop.

As was reported in the article about Chrome's redesign. Screen space is extremely limited on such a laptop.

Still like cameras with USB charging and phones with roaming in the UK, we can but dream.

By tirons1 on 22 Feb 2011

Bought a Sony VPCEB2C5E instead

Sony website had a better package with free upgrade to blu-ray writer and 1080p screen with core i5, ATI5650, 320GB hard disk and 2GB RAM. Much better performance and value!

By subseb on 24 Feb 2011

Bought a Sony VPCEB2C5E instead

Sony website had a better package with free upgrade to blu-ray writer and 1080p screen with core i5, ATI5650, 320GB hard disk and 2GB RAM. Much better performance and value!

By subseb on 24 Feb 2011

Shame the high res screen wasn't reviewed

I was looking forward to this laptop... the biggest attraction being the 14" screen (so rare now a days). I'm used to high res screens on laptops and the version with 1600x900 resolution is what I was hoping would get reviewed. Shame that the stock model with the minimum spec was. Oh well...

By MaxPayne on 21 Mar 2011

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