Sony VAIO CW Series (VPC-CW1S1E/P) - 14.1in Laptop - Sony VAIO CW Series

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Sony VAIO CW Series (VPC-CW1S1E/P) - 14.1in Laptop

Summary

Our Score:

8

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!

Don Kanonjii

November 27, 2009, 7:14 pm

Bought one of these for my wife as an early xmas present. Utterly fantastic. Performs like a trooper and plays games well even on battery. Runs very cool and very quiet. Couldnt recomend it enough.

spylex

November 28, 2009, 12:16 am

I've got one of these in the dark red colour. Really nice laptop! I wouldn't say it runs quiet, the fan is on all the time just on low speed. It's unfortunate that it doesn't support vanilla nVidia Forceware drivers, we have to wait for official Sony ones to update and i really doubt those will ever come.

ilovethemonkeyhead

November 28, 2009, 1:37 am

suprised at the choice of graphics - equivalent to the geforce 9700m GT, it wasn't so long ago that kind of power was in alienware gaming laptops...

Max

November 28, 2009, 2:07 am

Strange scoring. Looks like a great laptop, I think the only complaint I can find is with the screen... The most important two scores (performance and value) are 9/10 but the final score is 8/10.

spylex

November 28, 2009, 9:31 pm

For what you pay for, it's pretty good. It's heavy, only complaint i have.

T800

March 29, 2010, 12:35 am

I had a very bad experience with fan noise, thermal management and fan failure on a CS11, a problem that is widely documented by owners on the Internet, including in a thread on the VAIO Club forum at http://club.vaio.sony.co.uk/cl... but I came across this review so thought I might reconsider. I wish I'd seen the score you gave the CS11 before I bought it, but it was, unusually for me, an "impulse" purchase because I needed a replacement computer quickly and the CS11 was in the local shop window. I went for it because of the Sony name, I suppose, but that has been tarnished by my experience with the CS11, which I now no longer own. I was not happy when Sony staff advised me the device was running within parameters after it had been sent back to them. (A replacement fan they installed was similarly noisy, all a poor BIOS control issue, I believe, and it too began to fail.)





I wonder, Andy, if you noted excessive fan noise in testing the CW.





If build quality is better and fan noise more bearable should I look at this again? Does anybody notice a tendency of the fan to spool up to a noisy high speed for just two or three seconds, every nine or ten seconds, even when just putting the CW through light use such as browsing and e-mail? That's what happened with my CS11, on a background of the fan spinning relatively noisily all the time in between, too, and many other CS11 and CS21 owners reported the same behaviour.

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