Sony VAIO Y21S1E review

5 Nov 2010

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

Price when reviewed: 
630(£630 inc VAT)
4

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £536
Price inc VAT £630
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 326 x 226 x 32mm (WDH)
Weight 1.700kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Pentium U5400
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 288GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Toshiba MK3265GSX
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive None
Battery capacity 5,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Multitouch touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 9hr 16min
Battery life, heavy use 3hr 12min
Overall application benchmark score 0.66
Office application benchmark score 0.59
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.80
Encoding application benchmark score 0.66
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.59
3D performance (crysis) low settings 11fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs