Sony's laptops rarely disappoint when it comes to their screens. The VAIO CA's 14-inch display is no exception, and images are reasonably sharp thanks to the 1366 x 768 resolution, but it's the contrast levels that particularly impress. We also liked the way the screen stretches close to the edges of the lid, making full use of the available space.
Images are vibrant and an ambient light sensor automatically adjusts brightness levels, although the VAIO CA's maximum brightness isn't too impressive. The glossy Super-TFT display is also typically reflective, so you'll be squinting inches from the surface if you use the laptop outside.
Anyone who uses video conferencing applications such as Skype will be pleased to know there's an integrated HD webcam positioned just above the VAIO CA's screen. Quality is great for online chats, with strong focus and minimal motion blur. The bundled ArcSoft application can be used to capture video or as a security feature, to detect motion in a room while you're absent.
As usual, Sony has included its VAIO, ASSIST and WEB shortcut buttons. ASSIST loads Vaio Care, which diagnoses any problems with the VAIO CA, restores the laptop if necessary, and gives access to various system settings.
WEB provides an instant way of loading your internet browser, if you're desperate to get online, while VAIO is a kind of media portal that enables you to quickly browse your photos, music and movies.
With just 250GB of storage on board, you sadly won't have much space for this media. We're sure Sony could have fitted double the amount into the chunky chassis, and we're sure that it won't take long for most users to fill up the meager amount on offer. Also bear in mind that a chunk of this is taken up by the recovery partition.
Thankfully networking is much stronger, with 802.11n Wi-Fi support providing the fastest access to wireless networks currently available. If you prefer a bit of good old fashioned wired networking, Gigabit Ethernet is also available.
Ports are fairly standard for this kind of laptop. You get four USB ports for hooking up peripherals, and one of them is USB 3.0, which we've found transfers data at twice the rate of the old USB 2.0 standard. Handy if you regularly back up data to an external USB hard drive or similar.
VGA and HDMI ports are also available, for hooking up an external display.