Sony VAIO VGN-C1Z review

£975
Price when reviewed

Sony’s VAIO VGN-C1Z gets off to a great start with the same 13.3in screen size as the Apple MacBook: the 1,280 x 800 resolution delivers the same amount of onscreen information as the 14.1in Dell D620 in a smaller package. Like the MacBook’s 13.3in version, it’s also glossy, surprisingly bright and pin-sharp.

Sony VAIO VGN-C1Z review

The Sony’s casing isn’t as svelte, and the C1Z is 9mm thicker than the MacBook. It makes it seem a lot bulkier, although it’s marginally lighter at 2.3kg. A typically bold design from Sony, if you don’t like the black version here it’s also available in white, pink and green.

Battery life is disappointing considering other VAIOs last longer than just over three hours with light use. The MacBook lasts almost 30 minutes longer, although the VAIO’s Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 offers modest gaming potential, where the Apple’s integrated GPU has practically none.

A 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500 processor gives average but perfectly usable 2D power here. There’s 1GB of memory plus a generous 120GB of hard disk space. The DVD writer supports DVD-RAM and dual-layer media.

There’s a Memory Stick reader and a separate ExpressCard/34 reader for SD and xD-Picture cards. There are only two USB ports, but at least they’re near the front. Underneath there’s a docking connector for an optional £115 VGP-PRC1 docking station.

Sony’s keyboard is almost as unusual as the MacBook’s, with oddly shaped keys, but there’s plenty of key travel and a firm action; the touchpad’s buttons are delightfully positive. Build quality elsewhere is good, although the TFT lid isn’t as solid as the best examples here.

Interestingly, it’s the only notebook with Windows XP Media Center Edition. The speakers are dire, though, so you’ll want to connect headphones or an external set.

The C1Z is a likeable notebook with solid all-round appeal. However, it’s caught between the two award winners: not as slim or stylish as the Apple MacBook and not as powerful or expandable as the Dell D620.

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