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Sony VAIO VGN-CR13G review: Sony VAIO VGN-CR13G

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The Good Attractive design. Excellent keypad. Great display. Great specs for the size.

The Bad Back of screen could do with some reinforcement. Poor positioning of speakers. No digital video out. Separated card reader. Vaio Update needs some streamlining.

The Bottom Line The Sony VAIO CR13G is a head turner that most would be proud to tuck under their arms.

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8.2 Overall

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Sony has been churning out the stylish laptops for some time now. With the CR series, things have taken another fashionable turn, the coloured varieties available sure to fulfil most people's desires.

Design
We received the white variant, the only non white areas of the chassis being the silver keyboard, the grey bottom and the transparent mouse buttons. It paints a very stylish picture, although at first we were concerned about the keyboard -- silver paint has a habit of rubbing off, and the alphanumeric characters appeared to be applied using stickers. On closer observation the copperplate lettering didn't seem to be a sticker, but there was an indentation around each letter giving the illusion. No amount of furious fingernail scratching damaged the letters or the paint job, meaning the keyboard should endure for years to come.

The keys have an unexpectedly long travel for a notebook, raised high above the board with a generous gap between them. This results in a typing experience that feels just fine to touch type on at great speed.

At the bottom of the base are the play/pause, stop, rewind and fast forward buttons for Media Player. These jut out when the notebook is closed -- which can be advantageous when using Sony's "AV Mode", a light multimedia client that can load pre-Windows to offer a low battery use solution when you just want to play music, watch a DVD or browse through some pictures on the hard drive. The client itself is simple and easy to use, and when you're done there's an option to either turn off the notebook or boot windows.

The 1,280x800 screen manages to achieve a well balanced level of glossiness, reflections proving to be not too much of a problem. A 1.3 megapixel Webcam sits at the top of the monitor frame, a green light to the left glowing when it's active. The mic sits further to the left, so your Webchatting experience can be complete.

Small speakers are situated about mid-way down on the left and right of the base, and emit the usual tinny notebook sound -- the positioning makes this worse however, since as you type your hands can obscure the speaker area, muffling the sound.

Above the keyboard are a series of buttons that give access to volume/mute functions, a shortcut to Sony's Webcam utility, and a button that exalts "display off" -- but appears to just kill the backlight, the images still visible if you give it more than a passing glance. Presumably this is the modern day "boss key", designed to hide any games or other inappropriate content you may be accessing during work hours.

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