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Sony VAIO Z Series review

Incredible performance from Sony's latest ultraportable laptop

Our Verdict

The best ultra-portable laptop of recent times, but it'll cost you

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1600 x 900
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Intel Core i7 power
  • Sharp and vibrant screen
  • Long battery life
  • Slim and light
  • Docking station adds more value

Against

  • Shallow keyboard
  • Cramped touchpad
  • Plain design
  • Flimsy lid

Sony vaio vpc-z21v9e

Many of the ultra-portable laptops we've seen lately are powered by Intel's latest Sandy Bridge Core i5 processors. Compared to the low-voltage ultra-portables of yesteryear, these things will last you a long time, which is just what you want when you're splashing out over a grand on a new laptop.

Sony has upped the game with an Intel Core i7 2620M processor, running at 2.7GHz, backed up by a whopping 8GB of RAM. In our benchmark tests, the VAIO VPC-Z21V9E ruled over all of its brethren.

This laptop can run anything you throw at it, and response times are almost instant. We rarely waited more than a couple of seconds for a piece of software to load up, which is perfect for the more impatient user.

As with many ultra-portables, the Sony VAIO VPC-Z21V9E has no built-in dedicated graphics. The Sandy Bridge chipset is used to render images instead.

Thankfully, Intel's latest processors are far more adept at graphical wizardry than the older models, and you can comfortably enjoy HD films, edit your photos and even mess around with home movies using basic video editing software. Of course, the latest games will either struggle a lot or be completely unplayable.

Sony vaio vpc-z21v9e

However, plug the Sony VAIO VPC-Z21V9E into the docking station and you can make full use of the dock's AMD Radeon HD 6650M GPU. With the docking station connected, our benchmark scores using 3D Mark doubled. We found that even the newest computer games ran smoothly, with no frame rate issues at all.

Unfortunately, we did notice that the cooling fans went into overdrive when we started playing. A constant blast of hot air shoots out of the left side, and the noise is intrusive if you're in a quiet environment.

Using these high-powered Intel processors has killed the battery life of recent ultra-portables, with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 surviving for just 107 minutes in our tests, and the HP ProBook 5330m managing a slightly more respectable 139 minutes.

We ran the Sony VAIO VPC-Z21V9E through the same process, firing up an HD video and seeing how long it could last on a single charge. Our expectations were low, yet the VAIO lasted an impressive 225 minutes before dying. Stick to word processing and you get almost five hours.

Benchmarks
Cinebench – 11457
3D Mark '06 – 8626 / 4958
Battery Eater '05 – 225 minutes

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 3000
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time7 Hour
Finger Print ReaderYes
Solid State Drive Capacity256 GB
FireWire/i.LINKNo
HDMIYes
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyVAIO Z
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Keyboard BacklightYes
Processor Modeli7-2620M
ColourCarbon Black
Operating SystemWindows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Professional with SP1
Brand NameSony
Processor Speed2.70 GHz
Processor TypeCore i7
Screen Size33.3 cm (13.1")
Screen Resolution1600 x 900
Standard Memory8 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.18 kg
Cache4 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM67 Express
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
WWAN SupportedYes
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Gobi SupportedYes
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports1
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height16.7 mm
Width330 mm
Depth210 mm
Screen ModeWSXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesZ
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelVPCZ21V9E
Product NameVAIO VPCZ21V9E Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineVAIO
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVPCZ21V9E
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Designed to impress

Take all the stress out of business travel. Carry around your Z Series with its ultra thin profile and full flat design, with no bulge from the battery weighing less than 1.2 kilos.

Enjoy solid Japanese craftsmanship in light but strong carbon fibre, with a new hexa-shell housing. Exclusively styled to complement your professional image.

Faster and more efficient

Store data and access files faster with the latest SSD RAID Flash drive. The light and robust drive transfers data around 6.2 times faster than a standard HDD and features low power consumption to preserve battery life.

Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • VAIO VPCZ21V9E Notebook
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • AC Adaptor
  • Power Cord
  • Documentation Pack
  • VAIO International Repair Service Guide
  • Docking Station / Port Replicator with Optical Drive
Limited Warranty2 Year