Like many shoppers these days, I contemplate form to become just as crucial as function. And if Apple hardware has taught me anything, it's that there's no substitute for an innovative style mated with sterling construct high quality. Nevertheless, the observant among you will notice that this is not a MacBook evaluate. This really is a review of Sony's new VAIO CW Series, the machine I ultimately went with.
Particularly, I ended up with Sony's VPCCW15FX in “Fiery Red" trim. You will find a number of elements that influenced my acquiring decision, but in the end it boiled down to two quite critical words: Blu-ray. (Is that one word or two?) With its integrated Blu-ray drive (on select models), HDMI output, brilliant widescreen display and Windows 7 operating system, the CW Series has a lot going for it.
If you're a regular reader of Large Picture Large Sound, you know that we don't typically publish laptop reviews. In fact, this really is our ?nitial. Because films, video and audio performance are what we're all about here, I'll be looking at the CW with ?ndividuals points atop my priority list. Although total technical specifications can be discovered ?n the bottom of this review, do not be surprised when I avoid talking about the bells and whistles found ?nside Windows 7 or Microsoft Excel benchmark results. As far as I'm concerned, the CW notebook is much like Sony's Playstation 3, a value-packed Blu-ray player that also does a whole lot more.
Apple's selection not to provide a Blu-ray drive on this year's crop of MacBook laptops was a major gaffe and ?t is one I don't suspect they'll be repeating next year. Like an ever-increasing quantity of personal computer shoppers, I want to utilize my notebook pc to obtain, view and share all manner of media - and that includes films and television content material on Blu-ray Disc.
I need to take my laptop on the plane and watch a handful of discs I brought from home. I'm not getting DVDs anymore; Blu-ray Disc, my heart belongs to thee. I desire to bring my laptop into my hotel room, or my vacation rental or my parents’ house. If there's no Blu-ray player there, I desire to hook up my laptop computer via HDMI and play my Blu-ray films on whatever TV I find there. Granted, the likelihood of that TV having an HDMI input is hardly a provided, but the odds are improving every day. Bottom line: if I'm shopping for a laptop computer today, no Blu-ray means no sale. Sorry, Apple. Hello, Sony.
For Blu-ray Disc playback, Sony has pre-loaded the CW with Intervideo's WinDVD BD for VAIO program. (Doesn't that just roll off the tongue? It makes me want to fire up a Toshiba “Regza. ") Popping in a disc will launch the program automatically, though DVDs give you the choice of utilizing Windows Media Player or WinDVD. Windows Media Player will not play Blu-ray Discs, so you must either use WinDVD for those or purchase a distinct third party program.
Like most movie playback software, WinDVD ?ncludes a standard toolbar of buttons standing in for your typical DVD player's remote control. You'll uncover an eject button about the toolbar, but it can only be utilized to open the optical drive tray. Like most laptops, the disc tray ought to be closed manually for disc playback to begin.
Prior to settling in for any Blu-ray movie, I very first got out my trusty stopwatch and conducted our three load time speed tests. The test subjects included: a regular DVD (Gladiator), an early non-Java Blu-ray Disc (Sony's Underworld: Evolution - released for the same day as Sony's Hitch, our usual candidate) and finally a extra recent, Java-enhanced Blu-ray Disc (Pirates with the Caribbean: Curse from the Black Pearl). For every disc, I launched the playback computer software and then started out the timer the moment the disc tray slammed household, stopping it when disc-specific content material (normally a studio logo) appeared.
Oddly sufficient, it took much less time to start the Underworld Blu-ray (27 seconds) than it did to spin up the Gladiator DVD (34 seconds). Nonetheless, when I told Windows to utilize Windows Media Player for common DVDs, ?ssues improved for Gladiator with playback starting right after only 25 seconds. The gold coin around the Pirates Blu-ray stopped spinning and gave way to the Disney logo at the 45-second mark. These times didn't topple any records held by standalone Blu-ray players we've reviewed, but they're perfectly respectable and in keeping using the current norm.