Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/W 14.1in Notebook - Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/W

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


In use the CS11 is no speed demon, but it will handle most tasks with ease. An nVidia GeForce 9300M GS graphics chip won't let you play Call of Duty 4, but does deliver a 32.1 frames per second average in TrackMania Nations Forever at medium detail.

An Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 heads the rest of the cast, running at 2.26GHz on a 1,066Mhz front side bus. This is backed by 4GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM, which is more than the included 32-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium knows what to do with, while a generous 320GB of hard drive space is plenty for most users. Wireless duties are also nicely covered by Bluetooth 2.0 and Draft-N Wi-Fi, while the obligatory 1.3 Megapixel camera takes care of video chatting.

On the software side, there's a bit of bloatware like Google Desktop, but there are also some useful things like Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, Microsoft Works 9, Easy Media Creator, Adobe Reader 8.1 and DivX Player.

One other area, aside from the touchpad, where CS11 is rather strong is in battery life. Despite using only a 4,400mAh six-cell battery, this notebook managed a heartening three hours and 43 minutes in the semi-intensive Productivity benchmark, though this is with all wireless radios turned off. Another advantage the Sony has here is that in a well-lit environment its screen remains legible even at fairly low brightness settings, meaning you could get over four hours of frugal use when on the move. Just keep in mind that at around 2.5kg, this notebook is no lightweight.

When it comes down to it though, there simply aren't enough reasons to recommend the CS11. Something like the 15.4in Medion Akoya S5610 will give you a very similar working experience and far superior connectivity for £300 less, while likes of Acer, Dell, HP, Samsung or Toshiba offer machines with plenty of style and similar specifications, but with better build quality and features for less money.

Buying direct from Sony is even worse, since you end up paying nearly £900 for the configuration in this review, or just shy of £1,000 for the pointless Blu-ray version. For this kind of money, a current version of the Dell Studio 15 will get you everything the Sony offers plus a faster CPU, more choice of colours and designs, a Full HD 1,920 x 1,200 15.4in display to enjoy those Blu-rays on and a larger 9-cell battery.


Sony has really hurt the VAIO name with its VGN-CS11S/W. Shockingly poor build quality is just one among a whole raft of other issues and given its high price you're better off looking elsewhere.


December 12, 2008, 5:27 am

Geez, Sony's really on a roll lately! ;)


December 12, 2008, 7:07 am

Are you sure the ethernet port is gigabit? The spec page on Sony's site lists it as only 100mbit.

I'm rather annoyed with Sony's lack of gigabit ethernet on some of their notebooks, I'm thinking of a SR29XN/S which is nearly a grand, though according to Sony's site it also only has 100mbit. Annoyingly I recently bought a Sony NS10 for my mother, the lowest priced vaio, and that has gigabit ...ridiculous.


December 12, 2008, 3:27 pm

@BlackAle: Thanks for pointing that out. You're right, as it turns out the VGN-CS11 DOESN'T have gigabit ethernet either. One more black mark among many...


December 12, 2008, 8:59 pm

alright: this, or a macbook air


December 12, 2008, 9:30 pm

@ilovethemonkeyhead: no no no, even a MacBook Air has digital video out. And the new ones have Gigabit Ethernet to boot. Oh yeah, and it's gorgeous. And... oh, just get the Sony then :D.


February 3, 2009, 5:39 pm

Hi, i've been recently looking for a brand new laptop for my girlfriend. She seems pretty interest on the CS model (because is pink). However, i've been reading the article pointed out few bad things about this CS model. I just wonder either buy this or the Dell XPS M1530, could anyone give me some suggestion? Many thanks


February 10, 2009, 7:09 pm

@ alvinm: After reading the review, do you really need to ask? You don't even have to get the XPS to beat the Sony in every single regard. Just get a Dell Studio 15 or even Inspiron and you'll be better (and cheaper) off, plus Dell is doing a free colour-upgrade promotion right now.

Basically, get any pink laptop but the CS11 one.

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