Where Dell goes, Sony will follow, it seems. The Japanese giant has taken a page out of Mikey D's book and started coloring its notebooks, offering red, blue, white, pink and black flavors. If you're into pretentious marketing terms, that's Blazing Red, Indigo blue, Pure White, Luxury Pink and, er, Black respectively. To be fair, Sony has always been infinitely more stylish than most of the notebook brands, so one could argue that it's simply a natural evolution.
Dell has the upper hand in color choice with eight options instead of five (with Sony choosing to eschew silver, yellow and green). However, Sony scores bonus points for superior style and coloring more than just the lid--the white edition in particular looking like something that would disgorge from the turtleneck of Steve Jobs himself.
Choice is a good thing. Everyone likes to feel unique in what is arguably a narcissist generation. A marketing executive would say something along the lines of "it empowers individuality, creating a striking vision, making you stand out from the crowd". A realist would say "just shut up and give us the black one". Regardless, you can buy an optional matching carry bag and mouse if your ego can sustain it.
In its standard configuration the VGN-CR11GH model has a 14.1-inch screen, and at 2.5kg, it's decently portable. It supports a/b/g/n wireless, has a moderately fast 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB of memory, 100GB HDD and comes with Windows Vista Home Premium. Bluetooth 2.0 is included, a 1.3-megapixel Web camera sits on the top of the screen. Further customization is available, but the default model starts at S$1,999 (US$1,315.11).
An AV mode allows you to play stored music or watch DVDs without having to boot up the PC, and another handy button allows you to switch off the screen when you like without sending the notebook into hibernation, to either save power or hide that embarrassing video you were just watching.
We have yet another "me, too" on the iPod/mobile phone personalization bandwagon. What next, customizable clip on shells? We'd prefer to focus on some tangible useability benefits rather than a visit to the beautician. That's not to say Sony has been neglectful in this arena--when this lands on our desk we'll definitely put it through its paces. A blue LED glows from the bottom of the notebook, presumably so insomnia sufferers can continue to do so while it taunts them from its perch on the desk. Or maybe it's to find that lost pen in the dark.
The integrated Intel graphics means this is definitely a day-to-day notebook--don't expect to game or do any taxing 3D work on this VAIO. On the upside, this should mean longer battery life for your everyday tasks.
It's criminal that notebook manufacturers still omit some form of digital video-out these days, yet no trace of DVI or HDMI can be found on the chassis. This is not a sin of Sony's alone. The transition has been painfully long to digital despite the majority of screens now being TFTs. Presumably this is to keep the corporates happy with their aging projectors with D-sub connectors, but seriously guys--just bundle a DVI to a VGA adapter and be done with it already.
The new VAIO does look sexy, there's no denying it. We're sure it'll sell bundles, too. What we're more interested in though is to see if it performs, and brings anything exciting to the table other than its looks. Rest assured if the changes are more than skin deep, you'll read it in a full review soon.