Sony VAIO VGN-CR13G/B
- AV Mode, Capture button and Display mute, Design, dlna compatible
- Screen viewing angle, mediocre graphics performance
With a simple, but thoughtful feature set, a solid build and a classy design there's little to complain about. While the CR13G/B isn't the top of the game, it is a very nice notebook.
Price$ 1,899.00 (AUD)
Next to Sony's VAIO VGN-FZ18G and VAIO VGN-TZ18GN/X the equally new Sony VAIO VGN-CR13G/B doesn't seem all that impressive. There are no shiny new technologies to show off and no particularly earth shattering features, but the new CR range is far from uninspiring.
Intel's latest Centrino platform operates at the heart of this stylish and well built notebook. A T7100 Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz CPU is installed with an 800MHz front side bus (a speedy feature of the new CPUs), but it only offers a 2MB L2 cache, which seems to have a noticeable, if only small impact on the benchmark results. Only 1GB of DDR2 RAM is included, but this can be upgraded to 2GB. Sony has also featured one of ATI's new notebook graphics chips, the Radeon Mobility X2300, but don't expect it to play any of the latest games smoothly.
We were unable to run WorldBench 6 due to incompatibility issues with Sony's pre-installed software, but the specifications guarantee a fairly smooth experience in day-to-day activities, such as word processing, Web surfing, emailing and organising your photo or music library. More taxing applications such as video or photo editing software may not run as smoothly when handling large files or multi-tasking, but this unit was never built as a pure workhorse.
In our MP3 encoding test, converting 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, the Sony VAIO VGN-CR13G/B took 97 seconds in iTunes and 141 seconds in Cdex.
For storage there is a 100GB hard drive, a DVD re-writer with dual layer support and a media card reader supporting MS, MS Pro, MMC and SD cards. A 1.3 megapixel Webcam is also present, and built into the black, silver trimmed chassis is a set of useful hotkeys and media controls. Among these are stop, play/pause, skip track and volume controls. There's also a mute button, as well as an AV mode button, a Capture button and a display on/off button.
AV mode gives you quick access to a set of media applications, such as Windows Media Center or SonicStage and can be customised in the AV mode software settings to include any media application of your choice. Capture brings up the Webcam utility to take photos or record movies with the 1.3 megapixel Webcam that's built into the screen, and the Display on/off button is quick and easy way to mute the screen.
Watching movies is a pleasant enough experience, but is best suited as a last resort; when on the road or too lazy to get out of bed. The speakers produce decent volume, which is more than adequate, especially in quiet environments, but they aren't as crisp or bass capable as some rival units. The screen is fairly middle-shelf, too. Brightness and contrast levels are very nice, and colours look good, but there's a limited viewing angle, which makes the screen difficult to share with other people.
As a media hub the VAIO CR13G/B does a reasonable job. With the media card reader, the DVD player, the media controls and a couple of video-output options, it's a simple matter of connecting your speakers or stereo and a large desktop monitor or TV, and using the VAIO CR13G/B for all your music, photos and movies. The device is also dlna certified, meaning it is easily networked with other dlna devices like the Sony PS3.
In our battery tests the VAIO CR13G/B performed well, lasting 110 minutes. For this test we loop a DVD movie until the battery drains. This test is considered a worst case scenario as the optical drive and speakers are also employed, among the other core components of the notebook.
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Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
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I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
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