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Sony VAIO CW Series (VPC-CW1S1E/P) - 14.1in Laptop - Sony VAIO CW Series
In common with all Sony laptops of late, the CW sports an isolation-style keyboard - an innovation Sony itself started. Indeed this is the exact same keyboard as found in the VAIO NW Series earlier in the year, which is good news since it had an outstanding keyboard. Sony has really nailed the key actions on these keyboards, eliminating the shallow feel of older efforts while retaining the snappy feedback. Allied to a faultless layout, the CW has among the best keyboards of any consumer laptop.
Similar plaudits can be given to the accompanying touchpad. For starters it's large enough that the now fashionable multi-touch support is actually useful, unlike the recent Toshiba Satellite U500. Its surface is blissfully smooth, while the two buttons are individually hinged and thus offer excellent tactile feedback. If you're ever in doubt about what you get if you spend a little more on a brand name like Sony, such finer detail ought to convince.
Another strength of the CW is its display. Measuring 14.1in and with the industry standard 1,366 x 768 native resolution it's no masterpiece, it still suffers the relatively shallow viewing angles and glossy, reflective finishes of all laptops in this sector and price. But colours are just a little punchier, blacks a tad deeper and whites a tad cleaner than the norm, making it better than many we come across.
Similar things can't be said of the speakers, though. They're not terrible, producing reasonable clarity at decent volumes, but they lack the mid and low range verve of competing manufacturers. This makes them good enough for online video clips and the like, but anything else will demand some speakers or a decent set of headphones.
And what better way to enjoy such video clips than using your own instant-on web browser? It's no Google Chrome OS, but pressing the 'Web' button above the keyboard takes you from cold to a web page in around 20 seconds. This is a very neat feature that's well implemented, but Sony still hasn't solved our one complaint of the same feature on the NW: you can't adjust the display's brightness! It's a silly oversight and though it doesn't render the instant-on web browser useless, it does mean you'll be using more battery life than necessary when using it. Doh!