Sony VAIO CA1 review

Price when reviewed

The Sandy Bridge recall has left cutting-edge review laptops thin on the ground this month, but we can bring you a member of Sony’s newest VAIO family. With a 14in screen, the VAIO CA1 sits just above the S and Z Series in the size range, and it’s being introduced for an exclusive period through John Lewis in the UK.

That should tell you that it’s aiming to appeal visually, so we weren’t surprised to see a swish new design when we pulled it from its box. The lid features an eye-catching two-tone black and grey design, and closer inspection reveals a subtle diamond pattern on the latter that glistens as it catches the light.

Throw open the lid and, with the exception of the front and back edges, the same pattern covers the whole base – except this time it’s beneath a layer of clear plastic slightly tinged with purple. The combination certainly does its key job of making an impression, although perhaps not one that will suit most tastes.

Sony VAIO CA1 - front

The CA1 is also built to a higher standard than you might expect given its size. That purple plastic bends a little under pressure but not to a worrying degree, and there’s no undue flex in the lid. Despite the firm build, it’s just 25mm thick and weighs a reasonable 2.28kg.

The backlit keyboard sits in its own island in the middle of that purple sea of plastic, and the Scrabble-tile keys feel smooth under the finger and offer just the right travel and feedback. We’re not huge fans of the textured touchpad, but it’s nippy and responsive, as are the buttons that sit beneath it.

Around the base you’ll find the usual extras: the VAIO and web quick-buttons above the keyboard; a Memory Stick and SD card slot on the front edge alongside a wireless switch. That controls the 802.11n WLAN chip, and you also get Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet. On the right side sit two USB 2 ports next to the DVD writer, while the left sees one further USB 2 port and a single USB 3 offering. For video outputs you have the choice of HDMI and D-SUB.

Physical specifications

Dimensions340 x 235 x 75mm (WDH)
Travelling weight2.7kg
Weight with extended battery2.7kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-2410M
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3

Screen and video

Screen size14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetAMD Radeon HD 6470M
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard diskSeagate ST9320
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveTSST corp CDDVDW TS-L633C
Battery capacity4,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
USB ports (downstream)3
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Audio chipsetATI HDMI Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard/Front edge
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?no
Integrated webcam?yes
Fingerprint readerno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use3hr 14min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 5min

Operating system and software

Operating systemWIndows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7

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