If the powerful Z-series is the big brother of the Sony VAIO family, then the updated Sony VAIO C-series is definitely the attractive cousin.
We originally reviewed the VAIO C Series at the start of this month, but that iteration was packing a Core i5 processor and dedicated graphics. Now we have our hands on the more affordable VAIO-VPC-CA2Z0E Core i3 version.
Available in a choice of five different colours, this mid-level lifestyle laptop has a number of features that make it worth a look if you're tired of the same old black or silver design of other machines.
Our review unit was a bright and attractive red, but the C-Series also comes in lime green, orange, pink, navy blue, white or black. Sony has given the laptop a material finish with a transparent effect – complimented by backlighting around the body of the laptop, such as the VAIO logo on the lid and around the touchpad.
Needless to say, whichever colour you choose, a range of similarly coloured peripherals is available, allowing you to accessorise your new rig.
Sony hasn't stopped at the chassis when it comes to the light show. The isolation-style keyboard is backlit with a sensor called Auto Luminance Control which measures the ambient light surrounding you and adjusts the backlight accordingly. On a practical level, this is excellent for times when you're working late into the night, but it also adds nicely to the overall design.
We ran several high-definition (HD) videos to test out the screen and were impressed with the bright, glossy screen that runs with a native pixel resolution of 1366 x 768. Understandably, it won't match a dedicated games machine like the Asus' Lamborghini VX7, but this is easily good enough for enjoying your pictures and videos.
Just beware the Super-TFT coating does give irritating reflections when you're watching in a brightly lit environment.
Should you wish to play games on the C-Series, you will be limited to some of the older titles as the laptop only has an integrated graphics card. But, being that the CPU is a second-generation Intel chip – the Core i3 2310M – performance isn't really a problem.We found web pages and HD videos on YouTube loaded very quickly.
The 4GB of RAM helps a lot and is the benchmark amount for a laptop at this level. A healthy 320GB hard drive means you can store plenty of HD video content here and still have space for office programs.
Battery Eater '05: 251 minutes
3DMark 2006: 3440
What particularly impressed us, along with the great design, was the strength of the C-Series' battery life. Sony has put the Auto Luminance Display from the keyboard into the screen as well, adjusting brightness depending on your surroundings to maximise performance. We're always happy to see over 200 minutes on a battery life and the 251 we got from the Sony is a very respectable score.
Sony wants you to take this laptop out and about with you, and it has provided the battery life to make that possible.
The only real drawbacks we could find with this machine are a tendency for the keyboard to flex during typing and a pretty flimsy DVD drive. We would also have liked one of the four USB ports to have been upgraded to USB 3.0, but you can't have everything sadly.
Sony has a great line-up when it comes to laptops. While we expect the business users to go for the ultraportable Z-Series and those on a budget to opt for the E-Series, we think anyone who wants a bit more flair will be happy with the funky C-Series as their next laptop.
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