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Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E review

Verdict

A fast machine with a quality 3D screen that really works, but the price is in another dimension

Review Date: 26 Jan 2011

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £1,500 (£1,800 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

Ever since James Cameron’s Avatar thrust cinema-goers into the third-dimension of film, the concept of 3D in the home has become a reality. Now Sony, the big force behind the Blu-ray 3D format, has gone one step further, cramming a 3D display into a laptop equipped with one of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors.

It might be significantly more portable than your average 3D TV, but even so, you’re unlikely to want to watch 3D movies on the train to work; the Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E is a seriously big laptop. Even with the glossy black lid firmly shut, it rises 46mm above the desk, and weighs in at a considerable 3.14kg.

Sit the Sony on a coffee table or a desk, though, and it’s right at home. Gloss black reaches all around, the thick-set chassis tapering away underneath, and the imposing figure makes the Sony look every inch the luxurious powerhouse.

Sony Vaio VPCF21Z1E - front

Peel the thick lid back and, as the Windows desktop appears, you’re left in no doubt as to the quality of the Sony’s 16in Full HD display. Fire up a Blu-ray disc, and the display delivers strikingly crisp images. Pin-sharp detail fills every corner of the screen, while the excellent colour reproduction sees it shrug off the challenges of Avatar, the beautifully rendered palette of blues and greens bringing the planet of Pandora to life.

Don the supplied active-shutter glasses, dab the 3D button beneath the Sony’s display, and the VPCF21Z1E reveals its 3D party trick. The display’s brightness levels drop significantly in 3D mode, when it switches to 120Hz, and the shutter glasses darken content even further, but the sheer quality of the display more than makes amends. Indeed, despite the relatively small 16in panel, Blu-ray 3D content was jaw-droppingly effective, with environments reaching deep into three-dimensional space and objects bursting out of the confines of the screen.

The bundled copy of Corel’s WinDVD software also makes it possible to watch standard 2D movies in a 3D-upscaling mode. We tested it with a DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as Avatar on Blu-ray, and the results were mixed. The pseudo-3D effect definitely gave images more depth, but, in the main it was unconvincing, and we often found our eyes struggling to adjust to the forced depth effect in certain scenes. Somewhat disappointingly, as the upscaling mode is restricted to WinDVD, it isn't possible to engage the 3D upscaling while watching web-based content such as BBC iPlayer or YouTube.

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User comments

Nvidia performance in 2d?

I was wondering how crysis performed in regular 2d? That would be really useful to know.

By Virtuatw on 26 Jan 2011

Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E review

did any one try out the drm shackled hd video streaming

By invalidscreenname on 28 Jan 2011

It hurts if you use it as a Laptop

Supprisingly, the back edge of the screen is sharp and digs into your legs if you ever dare to use this computer on the lap.
The speaker aperture is recessed and one heck of a dust trap.
Otherwise, a fine machine.

By laislica on 25 Sep 2011

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