A generic monitor not specifically designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. Processing images on the BenQ SW271 gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range.
Sony VAIO VGN-CR25GR
- Design, display off button, DLNA certified
- Basic performance
On design alone the Sony VAIO CR25G/R is a winner. Beyond that it's a solid machine with some nice features but not a tonne of power. Those looking to do the basics and look good in the process will enjoy this notebook.
Price$ 1,899.00 (AUD)
Let's just get this part out of the way. This notebook looks hot! Even if Sony had managed to stuff up every other feature of this notebook it would still get some credit for the design. The CR series notebooks come in a wide range of colours, including a new gold finish, but we ended up with the Sony VAIO CR25G/R, a "Blazing Red" stunner. The lid gleams a bright ruby-red that's akin to Dorothy's slippers, while the inside sports a clean-slate black that's highlighted by white lettered keys and silver shortcut buttons.
Forget "there's no place like home", the VAIO VGN CR25G/R is comfortable to carry around, weighing about 2.5kg. What's more, the screen has a very broad swing on its hinge; it actually swings back past horizontal. This makes it very easy to get a good angle on the screen no matter how cramped you and the notebook are on your train, bus or plane seat.
When the lid is closed, the base of the notebook protrudes ever so slightly beyond the top of the screen, exposing the silver-coloured metal rim on the front edge of the palm rest where the media controls reside. It's almost like a stylish, functional under bite. This design feature allows you to control your media with the lid closed, assuming you've turned off the Windows sleep setting.
Above the keyboard are the aforementioned silver shortcut buttons. These include the AV mode button, which launches a media bar at the top of the screen, a mute button, volume controls, a shortcut to the 1.3-megapixel camera software, and a display off button, which effectively mutes the screen. This is good for playing your music, or outputting to another device without the screen glaring at you.
Delve inside and you'll find an Intel T7250 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU with an 800MHz front side bus and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, as well as a Radeon X2300 graphics chip. There is a DVD re-writer, 160GB of storage to play with and all the standard ports. The screen runs at a resolution of 1280x800 and offers good contrast and brightness levels, but a typically average viewing angle. Overall the chassis is quite sturdy and should travel well. One thing we really like are the keys, which, blasphemous as it is to say for a PC user, mimic the keys on a Macbook and are very tactile.
If we were moments from giving this a five out of five rating, just based on its style, the feeling was quickly squelched by the painfully long setup time. Naturally this is a once off, but it certainly dampened the excitement. Fortunately the end result is a fairly clean desktop with only one trial software icon for Microsoft Office 2007.
Other interesting features of this notebook include its DLNA certification, meaning you can easily network it with other DLNA devices, such as the Sony Playstation 3, and there is also a light under the front edge that illuminates a mix of white and blue LEDs when buttons are pressed.
In our MP3 encoding test, the mid-range CPU wasn't super speedy, but still performed comfortably taking 88sec to convert 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files in iTunes, then 130sec using Cdex. Overall we feel this machine will easily handle everyday tasks like word processing and e-mailing, Web surfing and acting like a photo and music database. Photo editing will also be possible, but may get a little sluggish on larger files.
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