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Sony Vaio VGN-AW21M/H review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1099
inc VAT


18.4 in 1,680×945 display, 3.7kg, 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, 4.00GB RAM, 400GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium

Sony’s Vaio VGN-AW21M/H has an unusual keyboard with spaced out keys. They feel a little stiff but are comfortable to type on. The touchpad is accurate and the buttons provide plenty of feedback when pressed, but both are smaller than we’d like.

The built-in Blu-ray drive can’t write Blu-ray discs, unlike the drive in Acer’s pricier Aspire 8930G. The 18.4in, 1,680×945-pixel screen’s image quality was disappointing. It’s not especially bright, colours look washed out and images have a blueish tint.

With its fast 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo P8600 processor, this laptop should have no trouble running demanding applications, although it wasn’t quite as fast as Acer’s Core 2 Quad-equipped Aspire 8930G in our application benchmarks. The GeForce 9300M GS graphics chip managed only 9.2fps in Call of Duty 4, so it’s not suitable for playing the latest action games, but should be able to cope with strategy games and older titles.

Although the VGN-AW21M/H is one of the lighter desktop replacement laptops here at 3.7kg, it’s still impractically large for regular travelling. Its battery lasted two hours and 43 minutes in our light-usage test, so it could be used on occasional trips, or in the garden.

Like other Vaio laptops we’ve seen, this one comes with a generous bundle of useful software such as Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 6 photo editor and Sony’s own SonicStage Mastering Studio audio-editing program. The 400GB hard disk is one of the smallest here and could fill up quickly if you want to store and edit lots of video and audio files.

The speakers are loud with plenty of bass, but the treble is harsh. If you want surround sound, you can connect an amp to the optical S/PDIF port. This Vaio isn’t a bad laptop, but there’s little to distinguish it from the competition. Acer’s Aspire 8930G costs £150 more but is better designed and better value.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo P8600
Processor clock speed 2.4GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 4GB
Size 44x440x285mm
Weight 3.7kg
Sound Realtek High Definition Audio
Pointing device touchpad
Power consumption standby 2W
Power consumption idle 31W
Power consumption active 54W


Viewable size 18.4 in
Native resolution 1,680×945
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS
Graphics/video ports VGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory 256MB


Total storage capacity 400GB
Optical drive model Matshita BD-MLT UJ230AS
Optical drive type DVD+/-RW +/-DL BD-ROM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 3
Total Firewire ports 1
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
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 optical S/PDIF output


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, Divx Player and Converter 6, InterVideo WinDVD BD 8, Roxio Easy Media Creator 10, Sony SonicStage Mastering Studio 2.5, Sony Vaio Media Plus 1.2, Sony Vaio Movie Story 1.3, Sony Vaio Music Box 2.1.1, Sony Vaio Content Exporter
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £1,099

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