Sony – VAIO VPCCW1S1E review

reasonably-priced 14-inch laptop with gaming abilities
Photo of Sony – VAIO VPCCW1S1E
£699

If you’re on the lookout for an affordable laptop, Sony probably won’t be the first manufacturer on your list. With a raft of ultra-stylish yet ultra-expensive laptops to its name, it’s easy to simply overlook VAIO laptops the when you’ve a tight budget to stick to.

However, the Japanese electronics giant also has a rather nice collection of slightly more modestly priced machines, and the VPCCW1S1E is one of the latest to hit the market.

As with most Sony VAIO laptops, the VPCCW1S1E has no problems in the looks department. It’s also available in a variety of striking colours, namely red, white, black, pink and blue. With a weight of 2.3kg, it doesn’t make it into the ultra-portable category, but measuring 233 x 38.5 x 341mm, it’s fairly small and should fit into even modestly-sized bags.

Flipping open the lid reveals a 14-inch display that, thanks to its glossy coating, is able to produce bright, vibrant colours. The native resolution sits at 1,366 x 768, and the 16:9 aspect ratio means movies will fit the screen perfectly. Viewing angles aren’t the best, though, and you need to make sure you’re looking at it square on in order to get the best out of it.

The keyboard follows the same design as past VAIO laptops in that each key pops out from its own individual slot in the chassis. Thanks to decent travel and minimal flexing, it’s also great to use and we had no trouble typing on it at speed.

A large touch pad sits just below the keyboard and accepts multi-touch gestures. It’s not as advanced as those found on the latest Apple laptops, though, and isn’t able to recognise three- or four-fingered gestures.

There are no surprises in terms of ports, with three USB joined by mini Firewire and a 34mm ExpressCard slot. Both HDMI and VGA outputs are also provided, as is a standard DVD burner, while SD and Memorystick card readers are found at the front. Networking is provided in the form of Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth.

Given Sony’s tendency to slap a rather hefty style premium on its laptops, you’d be forgiven for thinking that at £699 the VPCCW1S1E probably isn’t up to much in terms of performance. As it happens, it’s actually a rather speedy little laptop.

Sony’s gone for an Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 mobile processor, and with a clock speed of 2.13GHz it’s certainly no slouch. In PCMark05 we recorded an overall score of 4,687, which means it’s more than capable of running demanding applications. The installed Windows 7 Home Premium also zipped along nicely and makes full use of the laptop’s 4GB of DDR3 memory.

No problems in terms of raw power, then, but what about 3D performance? Well, thanks to the Nvidia GeForce 210M graphics card, it scores highly here as well. The GeForce 210M might not be as powerful as some of the more expensive mobile graphics chips, but it’s a massive step up from integrated graphics and, as we found out, is more than capable of handling 3D gaming.

When we fired up Far Cry 2 at the laptop’s native resolution, it managed just under 50fps, which is very impressive. Throw slightly more demanding titles at it, such as Crysis, and detail levels will have to be turned down a notch, but you’ll still get playable frame rates. Meanwhile, in 3DMark06 it managed to rack up an overall score of 5,044 when running at the benchmark’s default resolution of 1,280 x 1,024.

The downside of this relatively high level of performance is that battery life takes quite a hit. Give it a rough time and you can expect just one-and-a-half hours out of the battery, but take things a little easier and over two hours is definitely possible.

Company: Sony

Contact: 0845 6000124


Verdict
Given its portable dimensions, it's something of a shame that the VPCCW1S1E doesn't offer more in the way of battery life. Aside from this, there's very little wrong with Sony's latest VAIO. It's reasonably powerful, capable of handling the latest 3D games and, most important of all, is well priced.