Sony VAIO VPC-CA1S1E review
A laptop that will make a striking first impression, although it could cause a few management headaches
Review Date: 1 Mar 2012
Reviewed By: Terry Freedman
Price when reviewed: £541 (£649 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
If your aim is to make an impact and show that technology can be fun, look no further than Sony’s VAIO VPC-CA1S1E. Available in a range of bright colours – we reviewed an orange model – it literally can’t be missed.
The emphasis on “fun” is reinforced by the preinstalled Arc Cam software. Pupils loved making a video that looked like a 1960s television broadcast. Meanwhile, Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements give older pupils creative options too.
The VAIO’s LED-backlit screen is excellent, particularly for watching video or editing photos. Despite a smaller-than-average 14in screen size, the levels of clarity and detail are excellent, although contrast falls off when you move away from the front-on position.
The island-style keyboard isn’t quite so flawless. It’s firm to use with a crisp touch, but the layout feels cramped and the keys in the centre have an odd spongy feel to them. However, pupils found the trackpad responsive.
Sony wins brownie points for labelling its ports so clearly, and with a USB 3 port and an HDMI output, the VAIO feels more future-proof than some rivals. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the battery lasted for a full 3hrs 12mins of typical classroom use, although more intensive applications dragged that down to just over an hour.
The VAIO isn’t without potential problems. Despite Sony’s claims that its drop- and spill-resistant, the plastic construction feels flimsy in areas. The screen hinges are narrow, and the screen itself goes back to only about 45 degrees and feels as though it would snap off if pushed too hard.
From a management perspective, the VAIO’s customisable function buttons are a drawback. One launches the VAIO Care utility, which might cause confusion if pressed in the classroom.
With its Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and dedicated AMD Radeon graphics chip, the Sony has plenty going for it as a media-editing machine, and its 0.66 benchmark score is very respectable. Sony also supplies the VPC-CA1S1E with a two-year warranty if bought from its online store. All the same, we’d have reservations about rolling it out on a school-wide scale.
Author: Terry Freedman
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