Summary

Our Score

7/10

Pros

  • Colours to suit every taste
  • Rubber keyboard covers a neat idea
  • Decent, backlit chiclet keyboard
  • Two-year warranty as standard
  • Fairly good 14in screen

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Design is a matter of taste
  • Doesn't excel in any field

Review Price £599.90

Key Features: Available in white/black/green/red/blue/orange/pink; 'Glow-in-the-dark' effect (some colours); 14in, 1366 x 768 glossy screen, Radeon HD 6470M Graphics; Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM, 320GB 5200rpm HDD ; Rubber, machine-washable keyboard covers

Manufacturer: Sony

Sony has always catered for those who like colour with its VAIO C Series laptops. We were rather impressed by the VAIO CW we reviewed back in 2009, except for its slightly off-pink tones. However, like the various C iterations before it, this year's machines come in a choice of white, black, green, red, blue and orange, as well as pink. Of course, that's only if you go for the smaller 14in model; much like old televisions, the 15in C Series only come in black and white.

Mind you, if you go for the VPCCA1S1E (not available in red or blue) you get more than just a pretty colour, as these laptops sport semi-translucent sections that scatter light to create a (very) subtle glow, an effect that varies in its efficacy according to colour choice - obviously, if you go for black you won't have much luck here. You can check out what we mean in our Sony VAIO C Series hands-on, where we got to look at all the colours under ideal conditions.

Specifications are also not too shabby considering these are entry-level machines. The C Series come in a variety of configurations, with a choice of Intel's Core i3 or i5 processors, backed by 4GB of RAM, hard drives up to 640GB, discrete Radeon graphics and a choice of DVD or Blu-ray drives. Our £650 VPCCA1S1E falls somewhere in the middle of the pack, but we'll get to specs and performance later. First, let's take a look at its unique design.

Our particular model is white, which means it's predominantly white with silver and chrome highlights, and a black bottom. The sharp-edged lid, which sits a bit awkwardly on top of the protruding base, features a transparent layer over a diamond pattern framed by a white border.

It looks a bit ugly and cobbled-together in the daylight, and our white model doesn't do much in darkness either; we reckon orange and green will be your best bets for mild neon effects in dimly lit rooms. On the positives side, the white finish does mean fingerprints and grease marks aren't as much of a problem as with most glossy-lidded laptops.

Opening the laptop up, the kindest description we can give is 'quirky'. The plain matt plastic main chassis is complemented by a thick transparent layer surrounding the keyboard and forming the palm-rests, broken up by little rubber protectors and what we can only describe as rivet holes. We're fairly sure the other versions would hold up better, but quite frankly, everyone who saw the VPCCA1S1E/W (i.e. the white model) thought it was unattractive and cheap-looking.

Incredibly, Sony claim that this plasticky machine is "the most beautifully finished VAIO ever". We're glad to say that that's not even close to being the case when compared to its currently available products, let alone with carbon fibre stunners like the VAIO Z soon to make an entrance.

Nor does the VPCCA1S1E feel very solid. Inevitably there's some creak and flex in the plastics, and as usual with Sony's inexpensive laptops, there's some keyboard flex. Though we don't think it's anything worth worrying about, it further undermines any suggestion that this laptop can play in the 'designer chic' field Sony appears to be marketing it towards.  

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