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>> Hi I'm Scott Stein, Senior Associate Editor at cnet.com and we're heading to back to school season already and we're taking a look at some retail laptops that might be of interest to people that are looking for a value to take back to school with them. One of them that really caught our eye already is the Vaio EA24FM which not only comes in white but comes in black, also a glowing blue and pink configuration. And for $799 what you get is a core I3 processor, 500 GB hard drive, 4 GB of RAM. In addition it's got a Blu-ray playing drive inside in addition to a DVD burner and it's got Intel wireless display technology which does require a $99 Push to TV Box but can allow you to display streaming video onto an HD TV wirelessly. The Blu-ray's look great on the 14-inch screen. There's one caveat--the maximum screen resolution is only 1366 by 768 which means that it doesn't show off the full HD of a Blu-ray. To get that you can always connect HDMI to an HD TV and get that and readjust the settings on your computer. And the speakers built in are not fantastic but they'll get the job done. We recommend using head phones. With a 14-inch screen and really nice solid design plus a great keyboard and a track pad it really covers all the basis that we'd be looking for at a price that's a couple hundred less than a thousand dollars. In addition, we really love the selection of ports that was on this laptop. There are four USB 2.0 ports, one of which is [inaudible] combo port. There's also an express card slot, there's also HDMI, there's even Blue tooth built into it which is not always that common in retail configurations of laptops. The battery life got a little under 4 hours obviously we'd love to have even more than that but that's pretty good for this size and the lines are really clean. It's not the fittest and lightest laptop we've ever seen but it certainly has nice clean edges, very eye-catching and pretty portable. We did have a couple of tiny beefs with this laptop that didn't quite make sense. For instance while there are a couple of nice direct buttons that connect you to the web or to Vaio assist, there's no button that takes you right to Intel wireless display and some people may not even realize it's on this laptop. You really have to kind of discover it with the little software tool and then buy the box to connect it. Secondly, Intel wireless display unfortunately, does not work with DVD and Blu-ray playback. You have to do the licensing room so you have to use it for streaming web video so it might seem like a bit of disconnect for some; on the other hand you can always connect your laptop via HDMI to an HD TV to watch that Blu-ray content. We have videos on CNET showing you how to do that in case you haven't done it before but it's really simple. Another funky feature on this Vaio in case you want to doll it up even beyond its additional color schemes is this--keyboard skins. These are sold separately and actually slide right on top of this Vaio model, pretty slickly to the point where there's little recesses that hold it in place. It's a little silicon skin and covers up the keyboard. Comes in a ridiculous variety of colors and can help you with some really bizarre color combinations. Now while it's kind of a fun idea for a little bit of splash protection and crumb protection, or if you're a germa phobe, it really affects the typing experience on once an otherwise fantastic keyboard and track pad; possibly the best keyboard and track pad that we've seen on any laptop and that's a big statement but we really feel that way. When you have this skin on it really kind of gums up the works a bit. But if you like the color combinations hey you want to spend the money go for it. I'm Scott Stein and it's the Sony Vaio EA24FM.
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