Sony VAIO VGN-Z21MN/B review

Price when reviewed

The real clincher, though, is the battery life. In Speed mode the VGN-Z21MN/B survives 6hrs 45mins of light usage, but flick the switch to Stamina, and thanks to the lesser power demands of the Intel integrated graphics, it soars to an astounding 9hrs 32mins. Under intense conditions it isn’t quite as impressive, ranging from an hour and a half to 1hr 45mins, but given the high-performance components inside, and their accompanying high-power draw, that comes as little surprise.

Have it your way

it_photo_6189As one of the lowliest models in the range, there are some things missing from the VGN-Z21MN/B’s specification – there’s no fingerprint reader and no embedded 3G for starters. But, although in our original VGN-Z11WN/B review we moaned about UK and European customers missing out on the comprehensive customisation options that were available via the Japanese Sony Style website, it seems Sony Europe have been listening. The new Sony by You service allows UK and European customers to build their ideal Z-series laptop.

Taking the VGN-Z21MN/B’s specification as the baseline, we added a Blu-Ray drive, embedded 3G, a 1,600 x 900 resolution screen and a fingerprint reader and we ended up with a supercharged ultraportable for a hefty £1,867 exc VAT. And if that’s too much for your bank manager (or IT department) to bear, then dropping the Blu-Ray drive and losing the 4th gigabyte of memory brings the total to an altogether more reasonable £1488 exc VAT.

Whether you opt for the vanilla VGN-Z21MN/B model, or customise a model to overdraft destroying levels, the Z-series is simply the best all-round ultraportable in existence. Those looking for a portable with a stronger business focus and slightly more rugged build may be tempted away by Lenovo’s superb ThinkPad X200, but one thing’s for sure, with high performance, class-leading stamina and great looks – the Z-series is one laptop that has it all.


Warranty1 year(s) collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions314 x 210 x 33mm (WDH)

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo P8600
Motherboard chipsetIntel PM45 Express
RAM capacity4GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce 9300M GS
Graphics card RAM256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity175GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA 300
Hard diskToshiba MK2546GSX
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveMatshita UJ862AS
Battery capacity5,400mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT£114
Replacement battery price inc VAT£131


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel ratingN/A
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use572
Battery life, heavy use105
Overall application benchmark score1.31
3D performance (crysis) low settings24fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows Vista Business
OS familyWindows Vista
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedAdobe Photoshop Elements 6, Roxio Easy Media Creator 10, InterVideo WinDVD 8

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