Sony's VAIO laptops have always elevated form to the same level as function. With the thin-and-light C series, Sony is again heavily promoting the aesthetic qualities of its industrial design, calling the system a "functional fashion statement merging portability, power and style". The main selling point of this thin-and-light laptop may be aesthetics, but under the eye-catching paint job, the AU$1,799 Sony VAIO VGN-C13 offers a speedy Intel Core 2 Duo CPU in a sophisticated package that isn't much more expensive than the less photogenic competition.
It sounds like you're browsing the paint aisle at your local big-box home-improvement retailer, as laptops in the Sony VAIO C series are available in seashell white, blush pink, spring green, espresso black, and urban gray. Our review system is the fixed-configuration C13, disappointingly available only in espresso black (we thought spring green would bring out the color of our eyes). It still looks very slick, with tapered edges and copper accents around the touchpad, and a subtle patterned texture on the wrist rests. The keyboard has totally flat keys, instead of the slightly concave ones you may be used to, but it's still comfortable and easy to use.
Measuring 329.6mm wide, 235.6mm deep, and 37.2mm high, the VAIO VGN-C13 sits firmly in the thin-and-light category of laptops: Small enough to carry around without much hassle but big enough to work on comfortably for long stretches. The C150 weighs 2.3kg (2.63kg with the A/C adapter), which is at the upper end of what we'd want to have in our shoulder bag for a daily commute or extensive traveling.
The 13.3-inch widescreen LCD offers a nice 1,280 x 800 native resolution, giving you plenty of detail, but not so high that the Web page text disappears. Sony uses its Xbrite technology in the screen, which the company claims gives you deeper blacks and richer colors. More important perhaps is the anti-reflective coating on the screen surface, which kept the display very readable--even in our brightly lit Labs.
The Sony VAIO VGN-C13 is a fixed configuration system, offering a set list of components. Those components include a 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 CPU, a healthy 512MB of RAM, Intel 950 graphics, a DVD burner, and a 80GB 5,400rpm hard drive.
We found a standard array of connections on the VAIO VGN-C13, including two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 400 port, modem and Ethernet jacks, headphone and mic jacks, an ExpressCard slot, and VGA and S-Video outputs for hooking up an external monitor. There's built-in wireless 802.11a/b/g for networking and Bluetooth.
Compared to other similarly configured systems, the Sony VAIO VGN-C13 performed well on CNET Labs' Multitasking test, beating the Fujitsu LifeBook A6010. In our Photoshop CS2 test, the VAIO finished in a dead heat with even a high-end system, the Toshiba Qosmio G30, which has a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200.
The VAIO VGN-C13 ran for 3 hours 36 minutes on our MobileMark battery life test, using the included six-cell battery, which is toward the low end of acceptable for a system in its class. You can order an extended nine-cell battery, but it will stick out slightly from the back of the system. Sony's batteries can be expensive but they are compatible across a large swath of the VAIO laptop line.