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Sony VAIO VPC-Z21M9E review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1454
inc VAT

Quite possibly the ultimate ultra-portable thanks to an external graphics card, but you have to pay through the nose for it


13.1 in 1,600×900 display, 1.2kg, 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M, 4.00GB RAM, 128GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Despite its diminutive dimensions, the Z21M9E was still great to use for everyday tasks. In order to stop the keyboard tray from pressing into the display when the laptop is closed, Sony has used slim keys with extra short travel times. They feel slightly strange to type on at first, as there isn’t a great deal of tactile feedback, but each key was springy enough that we soon adjusted to them. Understandably there’s not enough room for a separate number pad, but the QWERTY keyboard is full-size and with an automatic backlight that activates in low-light conditions. Although it only makes a minor difference, the hinged lid creates a slight angle that makes typing slightly more comfortable than if the keyboard tray was flat to the desk.

The compact touchpad was too small to span the entire desktop in one swipe at its default sensitivity, and we didn’t like the lack of physical buttons, but it felt responsive and always recognised two-finger presses as right clicks.

It’s a shame that our one serious criticism of the Z21M9E comes down to price; the base model can hardly be considered cheap at £1,500, but this doesn’t even include the optional media dock. The total bill will be in excess of £2,000 if you buy the laptop and dock together, but this is just for the DVD version; a Blu-ray-equipped dock will add another £100.

Sony VAIO Z-series Z21M9E 3

There’s little doubt that the Z series is our new object of desire, with its great performance, stunning screen and superb battery life. However, its external graphics card doesn’t turn it into a true mobile gaming machine, and that makes it even harder to justify the astronomical price.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor Intel Core i5-2410M
Processor clock speed 2.3GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 8GB
Size 17x330x210mm
Weight 1.2kg
Sound Realtek HD Audio
Pointing device touchpad


Viewable size 13.1 in
Native resolution 1,600×900
Graphics Processor Intel HD 3000 Graphics
Graphics/video ports VGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory 384MB


Total storage capacity 128GB
Optical drive type none

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 2
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
PC Card slots none
Supported memory cards SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Other ports minijack audio output, 1x USB 3.0


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option Restore partition
Software included Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition, CyberLink PowerDVD 9
Optional extras £450

Buying Information

Warranty two years collect and return
Price £1,454