Perhaps no tech company short of Apple makes style more paramount than Sony. The new Vaio CW series, however, melds Sony’s knack for sharp design with a trait more foreign to the company: affordability. The fresh Vaio line of Nvidia-powered 14.1-inch notebooks charts an intelligent course between style and substance, while keeping price in check all the while, making it a great choice for the practical fashionista on a budget.
Features and Specs
Although the $719 starting price point suggests budget notebook more than a desktop replacement in the computing power department, the Vaio CW makes few concessions to price. Every single CW includes an Nvidia GeForce graphics card – either the GT210M with 256MB of RAM in the base unit, or the GT230M with 512MB in higher end units. Both fall toward the bottom of the Nvidia line, but put Intel integrated graphics found on many machines in this price range, such as Asus’ UL30A, to shame. The base unit comes equipped with a Pentium Dual Core processor rather than a Core 2 Duo, but a $50 upgrade will bump you up to one. Other starting specs include a 250GB hard drive (upgradeable to 500GB) and 2GB of RAM (upgradeable to 8GB).
Our machine came equipped with a Core 2 Duo clocked at 2.2GHz, 4GB of RAM, and GeForce G210M discrete graphics.
Design and Build Quality
At 1.09 to 1.52 inches thick, the CW shows none of the obsession with thin that the rest of industry seems to be falling into like a gaggle of teenage girls. This is the Marilyn Monroe of notebooks, not the Paris Hilton. While it won’t catch any catcalls on dimensions alone, we think the sturdy feel more than justifies the extra millimeters here and there. It doesn’t quite challenge the unibody sturdiness of Apple’s MacBooks, but a nice set of display hinges and a reinforcement below the touchpad and keyboard keep it from ever overtly flexing, unless you go out of your way to try. Weight of 5.3 pounds is reasonable for a 14-inch notebook, but not particularly impressive.
Sony’s lust for glittery automotive-style finishes manifests itself yet again in the CW, which comes in no shortage of colors with pomped-up names like Royal Indigo and Fiery Red. Although they collect smudges and fingerprints the same way the hood of a BMW might if you managed to build a keyboard into it, we have to admit we fell for the deep luster and shine. Both the lid and palm rest come swathed in your finish of choice, with matte black overtaking the rest of the chassis.