Sony Vaio VPCCA1S1E review: Sony Vaio VPCCA1S1E

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The Good Bright, bold and quirky design; decent performance.

The Bad Display isn't very bright or vivid; chunky and heavy; poor battery life; design might make you puke.

The Bottom Line The 14-inch Sony Vaio C series VPCCA1S1E has a striking, deliberately plasticky design, and comes in a range of colours you'll either love or despise. Sadly, the rest of the laptop isn't as unique -- it's a fairly average machine, overall.

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6.5 Overall

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Much as we love laptops, we'd be the first to admit they can look a tad... samey. With the tablet revolution rocking the tech world, our favourite folding gadgets have to do something special to stand out. Sony seems to be aware of this -- its new Vaio C series VPCCA1S1E laptop comes in a range of luminous colours, and sports a quirky, retro design.

This 14-inch machine will set you back at least £730. You'll pay more if you upgrade the components on the Sony website.

Plastic paradise

The VPCCA1S1E rocks a fairly radical design. Most laptop manufacturers build their machines out of plastic, but go to great lengths to hide the fact, relying on aluminium-coloured paint and metallic finishes to trick you into thinking you're holding something hewn from a solid lump of pure granite. But, with this machine, Sony's lobbed all attempts at camouflage out of the window. It has a retro-styled, deliberately plastic appearance that will take you straight back to the '90s.

Not only are the VPCCA1S1E's chassis and lid made of plastic, but there are loads of extra plastic bits stuck on top -- clear bits of plastic, opaque bits of plastic, matte plastic, glossy plastic and a curved plastic lip that creeps over the front of the laptop, encompassing the wrist rest. It's plastic for plastic's sake -- all plastic, all the time.

The C series machine also comes in a range of colours. Black, white, pink, green and orange versions can all be yours, and the brighter colours are guaranteed to turn heads and sizzle corneas. Sadly, Sony sent us the rather plain white version -- the VPCCA1S1E/W to be precise -- but you can check out all five colour options and ogle the new design in our hands-on photo gallery.

The laptop's design will be extremely divisive. We can see it going down well with students or those seeking something unique for home use, but, if you need to be taken seriously with your computer at your side, we'd recommend you look elsewhere.

We like the translucent, luminous styling, and it's great to see a manufacturer trying something different in terms of design, but this laptop absolutely won't please everyone. Have a look at this machine in person before throwing down the best part of a grand on something that might just make you sick in your mouth. 

Quite the heifer

Despite its plastic construction, the VPCCA1S1E is surprisingly heavy, weighing 2.5kg. It's not disastrously weighty, but the laptop certainly feels substantial.

The VPCCA1S1E measures 341 by 28 by 235mm, so it's not particularly thin either. Nor is its profile svelte -- the battery segment juts out on the laptop's underside. This machine will fit in most satchels or backpacks, but you'll definitely know you've got it with you, and, if you've got a long way to lug the thing, it'll probably start to weigh you down after a while.

This machine is a plastic fetishist's dream.

The 14-inch display is slightly disappointing. Even at maximum brightness, it never shines brilliantly, and colours looked rather washed-out. Its resolution is decent, though, at 1,366x768 pixels. If you fancy ramping the resolution up, you can do -- an extra £50 will get you a 1,600x900-pixel screen.

We're not thrilled with the keyboard. It's sensibly laid out, and there's a big gap between each key to help you cut down on typos, but the keys themselves don't feel too snappy -- there's not much spring to them.

The trackpad is more impressive, though. It has a bumpy texture that makes it much more responsive that most trackpads, and, even though it's not very big, we found it to be perfectly capable. You can use the right side of the trackpad to scroll, and this feature also works better than it does on most rival machines.

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