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(Pocket-lint) - Sony’s VAIO CW1S1E sits smack in the middle of the company’s laptop range, offering impressive value for money without compromising on features or style. With a 14-inch screen and weighing 2.3kg, it’s slightly larger than Sony’s ultra-portable laptops, but it offers better usability as a result.

The screen has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which is average at this price point. Images are crisp, and LED backlighting offers bright and vivid colour reproduction. That said, it was possible to see the individual LEDs at the bottom of the display on our review sample – which affected colours and also proved distracting.

The design is attractive and cohesive, with a range of bright colours on offer. The palm rest stands higher than the rest of the chassis, giving this machine an individual appearance, and is the same colour as the lid – including deep red, blue, black and light pink. The area surrounding the keyboard is a slightly more subtle colour – from light pink on some models, to black.

Identical in style to most recent VAIO keyboards, the CW’s chicklet style board offers a decent and comfortable typing action. There’s plenty of space between each of the keys, and it’s a responsive and firmly attached interface. The touchpad is larger than many of those found on rival laptops, offering a precise way of navigation, and the mouse buttons are also large and comfortable.  

The Nvidia GeForce GT 230M graphics card is a surprise inclusion in a machine of this size, giving the compact Sony serious 3D power. With the relatively low screen resolution, it means that even the latest games will run without issue, along with regular home and office applications. As a result, you’ll be able to use the VAIO CW as your sole PC.

Office performance is equally adept, with a mid-range 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 processor in place. It’s backed by 4096MB of DDR3 memory, and we found this an excellent machine to carry out office work or run a host of applications simultaneously. The 320GB hard drive offers more than enough space for most music and photo collections.

There are a trio of USB ports for adding peripherals, with two on the left-hand side of the chassis, and one on the right. Other ports include VGA and HDMI, offering connectivity for analogue and digital displays. As with most other VAIO models, there are two card readers on the front of the chassis, supporting Sony’s Memory Stick and SD formats. 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet provide decent networking options, but it’s a shame to see 3G/HSDPA omitted.

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The VAIO CW may not be Sony’s most desirable laptop, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great choice. The combination of size and power make it an ideal machine for all types of user, and that it’s just at home on the commute, in the living room or in the office is testament to just how good an all-rounder it is.

Writing by Andrew Tiney. Originally published on 9 November 2009.