Sony caught my attention with some really neat ads in the print media with a large range of colorful notebooks in shades of Blue, Red, Silver etc. with a pretty girl holding the laptop covering half her face with the laptop. The Sony tag line reads “All eyes on you”.
Having been impressed with the laptop and buying the laptop after a thorough comparison check with Dell, Toshiba and some other machines in my budget of Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 60,000, and using it for quite sometime now, I am finally in a position to review the laptop.
The laptop comes packaged neatly in a compact cardboard carton, which contains the laptop, a 2-pin AC charger and a concise product manual. The laptop carry case was delivered separately to me by my vendor.
The first thing you’ll notice about the laptop is it’s spectacular super bright 14.1″ wide-screen LCD display. It’s by far the brightest LCD monitor I have ever seen. The keyboard keys are placed with a small gap between the keys, something that’s apparently found in Apple laptops as well. It takes a day or two to get used to it however. I ended up hitting the Caps Lock key almost every time I wanted to press the “A”.
The laptop has a “Display off” button to instantly turn off your LCD incase you are running on batteries and want to save on your battery juice. The keyboard doesn’t have seperate keys for commonly used keys like “Page Up”, “Page Down”, “Home” and “End”. These have been combined with the “Function” key. So incase you want to do a “Shift + End”, you’ll end up holding 3 keys together.
The laptop speakers have been positioned on the left and right of the keyboard. Although it seemed like a good idea at first, I am wondering whether after somedays, dust might start accumulating in the speakers tiny net. The sound quality is OK, nothing great. A headphone or a speaker is a must have.
The touchpad isn’t as great as I expected it to be. But I may be biased here. I’ve always hated touchpads (I just can’t seem to use one) so in reality it may not be as bad as I feel it is. I leave this one for you to decide.
This laptop allows you to listen to songs, play movies stored on your hard disk or from CD’s and watch photos, without the need to boot the laptop. The AV mode menu is available by pressing a key on the laptop while it’s in Power Off mode. Although I am not completely sure, the lack of password protection might actually mean that your laptop content can be accessed without permission by through this mode.
Sony claims the battery life to be about 4 hours (without wi-fi on). However, in my little experience, I have experienced about 2.5 hrs of battery life with Wi-Fi off and about 1.5-2 hours with Wi-Fi on. An optional 9 cell battery is available but that will add some centimeters to the back of the laptop as the battery protrudes from the back.
A small problem with the battery is that the battery doesn’t lock into the laptop too well. The latches to lock it in place aren’t good enough. A mild shock may be enough to dislodge the battery out of place and switch off the laptop.
One excellent feature I found in this laptop is that when the battery gets fully charged, the battery actually STOPS CHARGING. Your laptop runs directly on the DC power from the adapter. This means the battery is protected from over-charging and ultimately enhances battery life.
The good old Sony shock problem:
The laptop comes with a 2-pin adaptor which means that your laptop is not grounded properly. Since the laptop has a metallic armrest (which also has the controls for AV mode), you are highly susceptible for some electric shocks. And the problem is not as uncommon as you think – in fact, most of Sony’s laptops DO give shocks. I have covered the details in a separate blog post.
CR35G or CR36G?
What’s the difference you may ask. The CR35G comes in cool stylish colors like Red, Golden etc. The CR36G comes in Black only. Since I wanted a black anyway, I went for a CR36G. And the good thing is that this model has a fingerprint reader built in. Once your fingerprints are registered, you can use a finger-swipe as an alternative to login to Windows when you boot. You can also use the inbuilt Sony software to authenticate yourself to various websites (say, GMail) using your fingerprint.
The fingerprint reader gave reasonable performance. Typically it takes 2-3 tries before your fingerprint is read successfully and you are allowed access. You can still use the password to login if on some day, the fingerprint reader doesn’t read your print.
The laptop also has an inbuilt web-camera, which is pretty good and a microphone next to it, which I am yet to test.
The laptop cover is black but I feel it’s prone to scratches if not handled delicately. The cover actually snaps back with a thud in case you are not careful to close it gently. Don’t know for sure if it’s actually made like that or if the shocks may harm the LCD panel. The VAIO written in silver on the black cover looks stunning. Sony exudes style! Carrying a VAIO is an ultimate style statement and you’ll know why only after you get it
I am sure you must have had a look at this before coming to this page, but for the sake of completeness, I’ll reiterate them here.
Processor: Intel Core2 Duo T8100 Processor 2.1 GHz(from the latest Intel’s Penryn Series)
RAM: 2GB DDR2
Hard Disk: 200GB SATA @ 5400RPM
Optical Drive: DVD and CD Writer
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium
Display: 14.1″ wide-screen extra bright LCD panel
Fingerprint reader (optional)
Card readers: Yes, Sony and SD card reader
Graphics: 128 MB ATI Radeon
Ports: 3 high-speed USB 3.0 ports, 1 S-Video Out port, 1 S-400 port (to connect to Sony digital camera’s etc.), 1 10/100 Ethernet port
Keyboard layout: Standard QWERTY keyboard, AV mode button, Volume Up/Down, Capture button – To launch Sony web-cam application, Display on/off – To turn off LCD backlighting
This laptop is available for around Rs. 54990.00 (as per the Sony India’s website) but you can try negotiating a deal to get around Rs. 1000 discount, depending on how you make the payment (Cash or credit card)
Overall, a pretty solid and sturdy laptop with a great price/performance ratio. Ideal for anyone looking for a right mix of performance, style and sturdiness.
Overall rating: 8/10 (Excellent)