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Unlike the Dell, though, the design touches don’t begin and end with the coloured exterior. Elsewhere on the notebook there are plenty of stylish and refined touches, such as the chrome finished edges and the separated keyboard, which was first pioneered on the VGN-X505VP but made popular by the MacBook and more recently the Sony TZ.

Measuring 335.1 x 249 x 31.7mm (WxDxH), weighing 2.44kg and featuring a 14.1in display, the CR11Z/R sits just above the ultra-portable category while remaining very portable. In many respects it’s very similar to the HP Pavilion dv2560ea, which also has a 14.1in display and is near identical in size and weight.

Under the hood things are fairly similar too, though the HP does have some advantages. This configuration, the VGN-CR11Z/R, sports an Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, which runs at 1.8GHz and features 2MB L2 Cache and 800MHz Front Side Bus. This is supplemented by 2GB 667MHz DRR2, a 160GB 5400rpm hard drive and an ATI Mobility Radeon X2300.

This makes it fairly well stocked, with the Core 2 Duo T7100 and 2GB of RAM more than capable of running Windows Vista Home Premium with the all the bells and whistles. An ATI Radeon X2300 obviously helps too, though it’s barely much better than Intel’s X1300 integrated solution, and as such shouldn’t be misconstrued as providing any kind of gaming potential.

Other features include a DVD-Rewriter drive and a 1.3-megapixel camera, while network connectivity is provided by 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet with Bluetooth 2.0 EDR making it too. Clearly then there’s no Draft-N wireless, nor any other ‘Santa Rosa’ features other than the updated CPU and motherboard and though this is a bit of disappointment, Sony is hardly alone in this respect.

Indeed, the only area where the CR11Z/R disappoints compared to the HP is with the processor, because the HP comes with the faster Core 2 Duo T7300 which clocks in at 2GHz and features 4MB L2 Cache compared to the 1.8GHz and 2MB found in the T7100. This Sony is also slightly more expensive, being available for around £910 compared to the £899 HP Pavilion dv2560ea, and a good deal more expensive than the similarly specified HP dv2530ea which is available for just over £700.

As ever then it’s a case of paying a premium for a Sony, and whether this is acceptable comes down to your disposition. As it is, the HP range that’s competing with the CR Series is no less easy on the eye sporting a lovely finish and some great features, but the CR11Z/R and its siblings do seem to have that something extra that just sets them apart. Colourful finishes certainly aide in this, but everything about the design enhances this feeling of quality, which to my mind makes the extra cost justifiable.

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