At the centre of the media strip a shortcut button labelled ‘AV Mode’ brings up VAIO Launcher, where you can set various programs for viewing photos, DVDs, web-browsing and listening to music. If you know your way around Windows this is little more than a gimmick, but for novices it might prove useful.
To the left of the multimedia strip is the ‘Capture’ button, which brings up the webcam software, while to the right resides a plain power button that’s stamped with an eye-catching, if slightly unimaginative, green power symbol.
Another design feature is the LED strip along the bottom at the notebook’s front, just below the touchpad. This fluctuates subtly between white and pale blue in sleep mode and various colours when in standby, but remains off when the notebook is in use. This is pretty enough to look at but is fairly inconsequential, especially given you can’t customise it at all.
Having bemoaned some of the build quality, the connectivity is also nothing to write home about. On the left is the power socket, a VGA port, two USB sockets and mini-FireWire, in addition to 3.5mm audio jacks. At the front, meanwhile, there’s Sony’s proprietary MagicGate Pro slot and a separate memory card reader that will take SD, SDHC and MMC formats, but not xD as some do. There’s also a hardware wireless switch, which is always a good thing.
On the back is a lonely modem jack, while on the right we find Ethernet, another USB port, a 34mm ExpressCard slot and the DVD-writer. Notice the absentees on this list? A lack of e-SATA we could forgive, since it’s a sin Sony shares with Samsung. However, the one thing that’s inexcusably missing from the list is HDMI. Yes, you read that right, this 14.1in notebook costing over £800 has no form of digital video connectivity whatsoever, something that’s offered by notebooks less than half the price!
What makes this even more ludicrous is that Sony actually offers a large selection of the CS Series range with integrated Blu-ray drives or the option to upgrade to one for £99. Fabulous idea, chaps, people are really going to see the benefits of 1080p high definition on the notebook’s 14.1in 1,280 x 800 screen! Wait, you want to output digitally to your Full HD 42in television? Well, sorry, you can’t.