Sony Vaio C
The Vaio C is unusual for a Sony, not because it’s rather good, but because it’s also pretty decent value. For your £650 your get a well screwed together compact machine with Radeon graphics, a very fine backlit keyboard, funky semi-translucent lid and a 2-year warranty.
The 1.3Mp webcam uses an Exmor CMOS sensor which makes for truly excellent low-light performance, so if you spend your evenings kicked back in the lounge Skyping your nearest and dearest, this feature alone is enough to recommend the Vaio C. The automatic screen and keyboard light adjusters are pretty useful and you get an instant-on Splashtop web browser that launches from a button on the deck.
Being a Sony, the Vaio C is full to the gunwales with bloatware: Vaio Gate, Vaio Assist, Vaio Media, Vaio Trouser Press. You can also get this laptop in a pretty far-out range of colours including pink, green and orange – although the white and black versions are probably the best bet if you sell it on later.
Confusingly for consumers, Sony does seem to be tying itself in a bit of a Sandy Bridge knot with the C-series. Mine came with a 1st generation i5 sticker on it and at the time of writing the product website page says it has an i7 chip in it. Trust me, it’s i5 Sandy Bridge inside.
Aimed at the yoof market, the Vaio C is a cracking little machine that, surprisingly, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Reg Rating 75%
More Info Sony
Toshiba Satellite L755
With its faux carbon-fibre casing the Toshiba Satellite is perfect for anyone who wants a laptop that looks like its been made from the chassis of an F1 car. I’m not entirely sure the carbon theme needed to have been carried over to the track pad, which is barely discernible from it’s surroundings, but at least it works once you have found it.
Packing Nvidia graphics, a Blu-ray player and impressive Onkyo stereo speakers the Toshiba makes a more than decent media and gaming machine though, of course, its high definition optical media playback capabilities aren’t matched by an HD screen.
Toshiba’s keyboard layout is a little odd, consisting as it does of flat glossy square keys with little, if anything, in the way of a gap between them and a rather short return. It’s not actually a drawback but it does take some getting used to.
A price has yet to be set for the Blu-ray equipped L755 but you can pick up the DVD drive version for £650 from John Lewis which is pretty decent value. In due course, Toshiba will also be releasing 13.3 and 17in versions.
The faux carbon-fibre casing and a Blu-ray player set this machine apart from the herd.
Reg Rating 90%
More Info Toshiba
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p**s poor screen resolutions
What is it with this new fad of crippling every new computer with a 1366x768 screen resolution? Seriously - a resolution that low should be limited to netbooks and screens <12". By law.
Not everyone is so blind as to need their desktop icons to be the size of their fist - and some people actually like having a bit of screen real-estate to work with. When will the manufacturers realise this?
I don't care if I have to pay a (small) premium to get a proper screen, but the option should *always* be given.
(yes, I know the Dell E6420 does give the option - but that doesn't excuse the fact that it is crap and is a total disgrace to the Latitude name.)
And any manufacturer that thinks 1366x768 is ok on a 15" screen should be banned from making any more computers. Ever.
For the record.
If any of the machines had given me a metrosexual wank-spasm I'd have automatically awarded them 100%.
Whiny crybaby fanbois
What a surprise, a flock of whiny apple fanbois up in arms like insulted scientologists because their overpriced underspecced shrinetop doesn't have the reviewer quivering in a post review metrosexual wank-spasm.
Macbook Pro's use a TN panel, not IPS. Plus I also find the glass really annoying in terms of reflections (probably why I bought a 15" Macbook Pro with AG screen).
Not unreasonable of Acer
Unlike CRTs, LCDs have a native resolution, the resolution that has a 1:1 mapping between your desktop resolution and your display's resolution. The display physically can't go any higher.
Even if your OS allowed itself to be set to a higher res (there may even be hack tools for the GPU which allow this) it would still have to downscale to fit the physical resolution. And yes the answer is to plug in an external monitor or buy some hulking 17" laptop to get a higher res. At the end of the day, it's a tradeoff, although 1366x768 is still perfectly adequate for 720p content and video players would downscale 1080p content to the output window size too.
I am not surprised by your other concerns. Few laptop manufactures bother providing physical OS disks any more. Most stick the OS in a "recovery partition". Yes it is cheap of them and petty. Perhaps you can back the partition up with with a burner or they provide a tool to do it.
What you're asking from the HDMI port is never going to happen. HDMI is a client / server protocol. No laptop manufacturer is going to bother implementing some kind of multi purpose HDMI port. Just copy the videos from your phone onto the computer via an SD card or USB cable and play them that way.