Sony VAIO CA1 review
Hugely powerful for such a small and stylish laptop, although the display is a weak point
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.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£625|
|Price inc VAT||£750|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||5|
|Dimensions||340 x 235 x 75mm (WDH)|
|Weight with extended battery||2.7kg|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2410M|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||AMD Radeon HD 6470M|
|Hard disk||Seagate ST9320|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||TSST corp CDDVDW TS-L633C|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Audio chipset||ATI HDMI Audio|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard/Front edge|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 14min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 5min|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||WIndows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|