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Plenty of manufacturers offer their laptops in a range of colours, but Sony has been at it for longer than most. One can trace this all the way back to the C Series in February 2007, which was replaced by the CR Series in August that year and then the CS Series last year. Unfortunately, while the outgoing CR was rather smart, the CS was quite a significant step backward, so we weren't surprised to see it swiftly replaced by the CW with the advent of Windows 7.
There are five colours available: white, red, pink, blue and black. As you can see we have the pink version which, regardless of personal preference, is probably the least desirable option of them all. Even those who like pink will find that the brighter, more vibrant shade seen on the lid and palm rest doesn't sit well with the rather sickly, pale shade used on the rest of the machine. No real complaints can be made of the other choices, though, and we particularly like the red/black and white models.
As for the overall design, the CW isn't a style icon, but it is another solid, very well put together machine from Sony. While competitors tend to over-complicate their designs in an effort to stand out, Sony manages to generate a sense of style in a far more restrained manner. Everything is in the right place and has a purpose, leaving your choice of colour to make the statement - if that's what you're after.
Choice isn't restricted just to colour, either. Though we're reviewing one of the retail bound SKUs, which go for between £650 and £700 depending on where you look, Sony offers customisation options via its website. Options aren't that varied, but you can opt for less RAM, slower graphics, slower CPUs and a resultant £579 starting price or upgrades that include a 500GB hard drive and Blu-ray drives, giving you a little flexibility.
As for our model, it's powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 running at 2.13GHz that's supported by a plentiful 4GB DDR3 RAM. Sony has also had the foresight to install a 64-bit version of Windows 7, so all that system memory is being put to good use. A 512MB nVidia GT 230M graphics cards serves up the graphical treats, while for storage you get a 320GB hard drive. Gigabit Ethernet, Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all present too, completing a thorough specification.
Connectivity isn't too bad, either. While the CW does lack eSATA or USB 'sleep and charge' capabilities, it does have mini-FireWire - an increasingly rare connection on laptops of late. Everything else is pretty standard, including: three USB ports (2x left, 1x right); HDMI and VGA for video; a 34mm ExpressCard slot, audio jacks (1x headphone, 1x mic); an Ethernet port on the back and separate memory card slots for Sony's proprietary formats and the more commonly used SD card format.