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Sony Vaio VGN-C2S review: Sony Vaio VGN-C2S

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The Good Bold colouring; high-quality screen.

The Bad Only two USB ports; average performance.

The Bottom Line The C2 is more affordable than many Vaio laptops and comes in a range of funky colours, but don't expect much for your £1,000

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.5 Overall

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Most 'designer' laptops tend to be minuscule -- the Asus U1 and Sony's own TX Series being prime examples. Sony has bucked this trend by jazzing up its £999 13-inch range, which comes in a variety of swanky colours.

Design
We tested out the blue version of the laptop -- which to give it its full title is called the Sony Vaio VGN-C2S/L.CEK -- but you can also buy it in green or pink.

You're either going to love or loathe the vivid blue on the outside of this Vaio, but whatever you think, it's hard to get away from the sense that it makes the laptop feel more Fisher Price than Sony.

One thing that stood out during our initial hands-on is was how difficult it was to open. There's no screen latch to contend with, but the front and rear quarters look very similar -- call us stupid but there were countless occasions where we tried to yank it open from the wrong end.

The blue inside the laptop is less intense than outside, and there are hundreds of tiny indentations around the keyboard, which helps to break up the sea of azure. Should your retinas object to the respite, the area around the mouse trackpad is finished in the same blue as found on the lid.


The area around the mouse trackpad shows the contrast between the two shades of blue used on the laptop

The keyboard is large considering the size of the laptop. It stretches nearly the full width of the chassis and has keys that are larger than those found on most laptops, regardless of size. We haven't always been fans of Sony's boxy-looking keys but we achieved a good typing speed on the C2 with a high accuracy rate.

The C2 is a good compromise of size and portability. Its chunky chassis allows for the installation of a 13.3-inch widescreen display, and at 2.3kg, it's not overly heavy. Our only gripe would be that it's a tad chunky-looking -- considering Sony's efforts with the VGN-UX1XN, this laptop could have been thinner and lighter.

Below the mouse buttons is a set of icons etched into the plastic, and below those, corresponding LED lights that show power status, low battery alerts, plus hard drive, optical drive and memory stick activity. This is all standard fare but we like the mirrored panel above the keyboard, which shrouds six LED status lights denoting wireless activity, num lock, caps lock and scroll lock status.


The mirrored status panel is a nice touch. It shows Wi-Fi, Caps Lock, Num Lock and Scroll Lock status

Features
The C2 uses 1GB of DDR2 533MHz RAM and the slowest Core 2 Duo processor in the range -- the 1.66GHz U5500 model. This isn't something you'd want to write home about, and neither is the onboard Intel GMA 950 graphics card, which is best described as 'basic'.

The 120GB hard drive is an average amount of storage space, but is in line with what we'd expect from a Sony laptop at this price point. It's backed up by an integrated dual-layer Toshiba DVD burner, which can write up to 8.5GB of data per dual-layer disc -- 4.5GB otherwise.



The C2's 13.3-inch widescreen display is its strongest asset. It runs at a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels and is of a very good standard. It's laced in Sony's X-Black screen coating so it benefits from better perceived contrast and colour reproduction is accurate. Its glossy finish makes it a little too reflective when used in direct light, but on the whole we think it's excellent.

The C2 is a fully fledged Centrino laptop so it's capable of connecting to Wi-Fi networks. This should come in handy for surfing the Web in your local Starbucks while showing off the laptop's flamboyant blue finish to fellow coffee drinkers. It also has Bluetooth so you can synchronise data with your mobile phone. As is usual, there's a hardware wireless switch on the front edge of the laptop that will come in handy when an air steward tells you to switch off devices that could interfere with a plane's navigation systems.

There's a ghastly shortage of ports on the C2. The right side of the laptop is host to a paltry two USB ports and one four-pin FireWire port, which are joined by S-Video and D-Sub graphics outputs. The left side has modem, LAN, mic and headphone jacks, plus an SD memory card reader. A separate MagicGate Memory Stick reader sits at the front edge of the laptop.


There are only two USB ports on the C2, so you'll probably need a USB hub

The software package is slightly more impressive than the hardware specification. The C2 ships with Windows Vista Home Premium Edition, which has a range of applications that lets you exercise your creativity. Windows Movie Maker, Windows Media Center and Windows DVD Maker are three of the highlights. You also get Microsoft Office.

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