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Sony Vaio CS21S/V review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £818
inc VAT


14.1 in 1,280×800 display, 2.6kg, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium

Sony sent us an electric purple version of the VGN-CS21S, although you can choose from a variety of shocking colours.

The keyboard panel slopes downwards towards the edges, making it comfortable to rest your hands on, and there’s a large, responsive touchpad with big, lightly sprung buttons. The keyboard is recessed and its flat keys are widely separated. If you don’t hit a key dead centre, you end up hitting the edge of two keys, which can lead to typing errors.

The VGN-CS21S/V has a standard 1,280×800 14in widescreen display. Its backlight is slightly uneven which, coupled with its reflective finish, results in poor viewing angles. Colours are natural, though.

The large 320GB hard disk provides plenty of room for all your files. Draft-N WiFi is included, but only a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet port rather than the faster Gigabit standard. With no eSATA, HDMI or S/PDIF ports, and only the smaller ExpressCard/34 slot, expansion options are limited.

The 2GHz Core 2 Duo T6400 processor is the slowest in this price group. Even with 4GB of RAM, performance was relatively poor. Although the VGN-CS21S/V outperformed Toshiba’s M10-11V, bear in mind that the M10-11V runs Windows Business, which lowers the PCMark Vantage score. Battery life was respectable at three hours and 44 minutes, and at 2.6kg the laptop is just light enough to carry in a bag without becoming a burden.

As well as the usual Vaio utility software, Sony has bundled Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 and a casual games bundle, as well as Microsoft Works 9 and DVD player software. If you take the cost of this software off the price, the VGN-CS21S/V appears better value.

While it is an attractive laptop and is available in a variety of interesting colours, Sony’s glitter looks out of place in this month’s group. Dell’s Studio XPS 13 is smart in a more refined way, and as it’s lighter and has better performance, it’s a much better choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6400
Processor clock speed 2GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 4GB
Size 35x338x250mm
Weight 2.6kg
Sound Realtek High Definition Audio
Pointing device touchpad
Power consumption standby 1W
Power consumption idle 22W
Power consumption active 45W


Viewable size 14.1 in
Native resolution 1,280×800
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS
Graphics/video ports VGA
Graphics Memory 256MB


Total storage capacity 320GB
Optical drive model Matshita UJ880AS
Optical drive type DVD+/-RW +/-DL DVD-RAM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 3
Total Firewire ports 1
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100
Wireless networking support 802.11a/n
PC Card slots 1x ExpressCard/34
Modem Yes
Supported memory cards SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Other ports minijack audio output, minijack microphone input


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included WinDVD 8 for VAIO, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0, Big Fish Games Suite, Microsoft Works 9
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £818

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