Sony Vaio VPC-CA1S1E Notebook Review

Sony Vaio VPC-CA1S1E Notebook Review
Beacon buoy. "Envious" looks will be a sure thing with the CA range. The flashy color adorns itself with light effects, the workmanship is stable and the ergonomic rates are exemplary. We will clarify if the 14 incher really is only something for Fashion Week guests and "Glamour" readers
"Radiate light and stand out with performance". Sony introduced its 14.1 inch CA range with these words in February 2011. Those who caught sight of the gaudy devices in radiant black, white, green, purple and orange (test device) will certainly have thought: Well, likely an overpriced Vaio for the lifestyle faction. Nothing under the hood, but the "Glamour" reader will buy it.

Prejudice or fact? We'll put the orange sprout from the new CA-series through its paces. As usual, we won't allow the garish color to blind us. Instead, we will assess the construction, portability, ergonomic and technical qualities objectively.

Wherever the Vaio CA turns up, it is an eye-catcher. Where other laptops want to make a stylish and an elegant appearance, Vaio relies on flashy colors in a plastic skin. The CA-series isn't made for you if you don't want to attract attention like a bonfire. The surfaces' transparent coating (lid, wrist-rest) have been designed to "capture" light and radiate it. That even works in the office without direct sunlight. If you look at the Vaio on our pictures or in the video, you may believe Sony has embedded many effect LEDs to make the case light up. Fluorescing edges and corners – we also had this impression in the office – even when the 14.1 incher was turned off. So, no power is wasted on light effects.

The construction stands out with good stability, which applies to the lid and wrist-rest. The wrist-rest and lid's surface fit very tight and the latter doesn't dent even in its center. The case's only weak point is the optical drive. The surface can be evidently depressed underneath this area. The base unit only allows itself to be deformed to an extent, but it creaks then. The fairly high weight may be a drawback, but the thick, transparent plastic surfaces are the reason for the good stability.

The hinges tightly fit in position and have a firm hold on the lid. Since the base unit is so heavy, only one hand is needed for opening. The lid has a clear stop at its maximum opening angle and doesn't teeter. The solid traits convey a feeling of quality and long life despite the toyish looks.

Connectivity :

The Vaio CA doesn't have many interfaces. Sophisticated connections, such as eSATA, FireWire and ExpressCard, aren't installed. The sole USB 3.0 port can't compensate for this lack if users want to retrofit controller cards or connect their old eSATA/FireWire hard disks. A cardreader (SD and HG Duo) are found, typical for Vaios, on the front. A slider for the wireless modules (WLAN/BT) is also found here.

The port distribution is very unfavorable. The positioning towards the front deters placing a mouse on both sides. You'll at latest want the good old rear connections back when you have to fight your way through unwieldy VGA, HDMI or USB cables.

Communication :

The Atheros AR9285 bids wireless connections of the fastest generation as draft n standard. The Bluetooth module incorporated in the WLAN card unfortunately only supports the old standard, 2.1+EDR. The Atheros LAN adapter, AR8151, supports gigabit LAN.

Supplies :

There are no data carriers included for the 14 incher. Merely quick start, recovery and service instructions can be found. A recovery DVD has to be created by the user (Vaio Assistant).

Warranty :

Sony has a 24 month bring in warranty for the Vaio CA. It consists of a 1 year base warranty plus an additional 1 year warranty.

Input Devices :


We didn't allow the looks to blind us and checked if the keyboard has more to offer than only a backlight. The somewhat slippery keys are firmly mounted on the surface. Only stronger pressure above the DVD drive can provoke indentation. The keys have a firm stroke, a clear pressure point, but regrettably a short key drop. The fingers move around slightly disorientated due to the even key surface (no conic inward cavity). The typing feel, seen alone, is fun due to the crisp pressure point. Since there is no number pad, the key layout is generous in terms of gaps (almost four millimeters) and key size. The layout is otherwise identical with that of the Vaio VPC-SB1Z9EB.


The knobbed mouse pad has very good gliding traits and deters the feel and looks of a touch-to-smear field due to its surface. Horizontal and vertical scroll bars aren't marked on the Synaptics Touchpad V7.4, but they nevertheless exist. Two finger gestures are executed quickly for the purpose of a full-fledged multi-touchpad. We find key use feasible. The medium key drop in the outer areas of both keys has a fairly soft stroke and the pressure point is found very soon. The bright click noise may annoy some users, but it's tolerable.


The reflective screen isn't convincing with its low contrast ratio. We determine a contrast of only 141:1 for the 14.1 inch display (1366x768 pixels, WXGA). A higher contrast of at least 400:1 would let colors look more vivid. This way, movies or pictures look rather more bleached than brilliant and fresh. Consequently, the small color space when the colors are reproduced isn't much of a surprise. The Samsung screen (model: 140AT08-S02, Sony: VAIO Display) lags behind the reference color spectrums of AdobeRGB and sRGB (color gamut in ICC profile). The Vaio EB4X shows which spectrum a good consumer screen can cover (VAIO Plus screen).

Performance :

The Sandy Bridge CPU, Intel Core i5-2410M (2x2.23 GHz) has a turbo rate of up to 2.9 GHz. Depending on the temperature, the CPU can even go further under the new Turbo 2.0 concept. Intel's 2011 Cores can increase the rate beyond the definite maximum clock rate via the "Dynamic Range @ Turbo Frequency Limits" – if the cooling plays along and certain temperature limits aren't surpassed.

The AMD Radeon HD 6470M (512 MB) is solely responsible for 3D calculations because the HD Graphics 3000 in the processor is disabled (no hybrid graphics). The RAM configuration is 4GB, whereas two 2048 MB modules occupy both RAM slots.

How fast does the 2410M (2.3 GHz) compute in comparison to the 2010 i5 generation? The 2410M achieves good 4510 points in single core calculation (Cinebench R10 Single 64bit). A 2010 460M (2.53 GHz, Turbo 2.8 GHz) is defeated with 3939 points despite a higher clock rate (e.g. Acer Aspire 3820TG, 13.3 inch).

Single core processing isn't as relevant for routine use. You will benefit from multi-threading with a higher clock if you encode videos with Cyberlinks Power Director. The installed 2410M achieves 9451 points. The 2010 i5-460M (4 threads) is clearly beaten: 8060 up to 8342 points (e.g. Acer Aspire 5820TG). In return, the current sister model, i5-2520M (4 threads), can accomplish 10128 points (Cinebench R10 Multi 64 bit).

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