Sony VAIO L21 review

21 Feb 2011

Sony packs a lot into its latest touchscreen all-in-one – not least some great interface innovations

Price when reviewed: 
1,200£1,200 inc VAT
5

Of all the manufacturers to attempt touchscreen all-in-ones, few can match the consistent success enjoyed by Sony. We’ve been impressed by previous VAIO L Series offerings and 
now it’s moving to the next level: the L21 is the first all-in-one we’ve seen with a Sandy Bridge processor.

The first thing you notice is the 24in Full HD touchscreen. It’s accurate and responsive, and the LED backlight provides vivid colours and razor-sharp detail without backlight bleed.

It also has some innovative control features. Tapping to the left and right of the central Sony logo below the screen switches between photos, songs or videos; trailing a finger up and down the right-hand bezel zooms in and out of pictures. A tap anywhere on the left hand side opens Microsoft’s onscreen keyboard, and prodding the bottom-left and top-right corners switches to the desktop and closes the current program.

That’s not the most interesting improvement, though. Sony’s real party piece is gesture control. Using the L21’s 1.3mp webcam, a horizontal wave of the hand navigates songs, photos or movies, while a downward gesture controls pause and play. You can see it in action in the video below.

It’s great fun – just ask the crowd that gathered in the office, demanding we test it with our heads and a plastic banana (both worked). But it’s also limited: the gestures don’t work outside of Sony’s VAIO software, and only the two mentioned gestures are available.

The touch controls are of much more use than the gestures, but the rest of Sony’s software is pretty slick. It’s no longer based on the XrossMediaBar that underpins the PlayStation 3. Instead, it uses tabs to manage music, movie and photo collections, with a Now Playing area that augments your selected media with suggestions pulled from both local and web-based content.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,000
Price inc VAT £1,200
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000GB
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 24.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 2.30GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket Socket G2
HSF (heatsink-fan) N/A

Motherboard

Motherboard N/A
Motherboard chipset Intel P67
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 0
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free N/A
Memory sockets total N/A

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia GeForce GT 540M
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 540M
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk N/A
Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 931GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical drive N/A
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model Sony integrated display
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Pixel response time N/A
Contrast ratio N/A
Screen brightness N/A
DVI inputs 0
HDMI inputs 1
VGA inputs 0
DisplayPort inputs 0

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Sony proprietary
Speaker type 2.0
Sound card N/A
Peripherals N/A

Case

Chassis N/A
Case format All-in-one
Dimensions 608 x 429 x 187mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply N/A
Power supply rating N/A
Power supply efficiency N/A

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 2
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Sony wireless keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc
Software supplied Adobe Photoshop & Premiere Elements 9, McAfee Internet Security, Norton Online Backup, Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 LJ, CyberLinkYouPaint, Corel WinDVD

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 60W
Peak power consumption 123W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.72
Office application benchmark score 1.38
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.87
Encoding application benchmark score 1.64
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.99
3D performance (crysis) low settings 73fps
3D performance setting Low