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Sony VAIO Y21S1E review

Verdict

Well built, lightweight and packed to the hilt with ports and features, this is a great ultraportable

Review Date: 5 Nov 2010

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £536 (£630 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
2 stars out of 6

Next to most cheap ultraportables, the Sony VAIO Y21S1E is built like a tank. It’s just as petite, with its 13.3in screen and low 1.7kg weight, yet we’d feel far more confident about throwing it in a bag day in, day out, than with most. Ignore the “striking” pink finish (it comes in silver and blue as well) and you’ll find a well-put-together laptop.

With its 5,000mAh battery it eased to 9hrs 16mins in our light-use test. That’s made possible by the use of a 1.2GHz Pentium U5400, a 32nm dual-core processor with a TDP of 18W and Intel’s HD Graphics on the chip. It isn’t ideal for gaming, but it will handle most HD video smoothly and there’s an HDMI port for outputting the picture to a bigger screen. The processor managed 0.66 in our application tests, so it isn’t ideal for demanding tasks such as HD video editing or 3D work.

Sony VAIO Y21S1E

On the road, however, it’s a joy to use. The Scrabble-tile keyboard has some of the widest spacing we’ve come across, yet it’s firm, sensibly arranged and has a positive key action. The touchpad is fine too, and our only quibble is the positioning of the buttons on the curve of the front edge, which makes them too easy to brush accidentally.

The 1,366 x 768 screen is as bright and vibrant as we’ve come to expect from Sony, with a real sharpness to text and images and an even backlight. Colours sometimes seem a touch warm and viewing angles are a little narrow, but these are minor faults.

Where such small laptops usually compromise is in features, and the VAIO Y21's 320GB hard disk and lack of optical drive are evidence of this. In terms of connections, however, it has more than you might expect: a FireWire port and an ExpressCard/34 slot sit next to the usual three USB 2 ports and memory card reader. It provides Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi (complete with physical on/off switch), and Bluetooth as well.

For build, design and features, this Sony ahs the clear edge over most little laptops at tis price, yet it also holds its own in performance and battery life. If you don’t need the last word in power but do demand a laptop that won’t weigh you down, the Sony VAIO Y21 is a great choice.

Author: David Bayon

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