Sony VAIO VGN-TZ21WN/B review

A pricey but ultra-mobile laptop offering from Sony

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Our Verdict

Outstanding mobility, but power is low and the price is too high


  • Great battery life
  • Stunning screen
  • Good mobility


  • 1 year warranty
  • Expensive
  • Poor performance

Sony's VAIO range is one of the most famous consumer laptop brands. The VAIO VGN-TZ21WN/B (£1799 inc. VAT) is an expensive laptop aimed at the mobile user. It provides great mobility, a stunning screen and wireless broadband.

At 1.3kg, this is a considerably light laptop. Its thin chassis makes it easy to work when travelling. The screen panel is just 5mm thick, but makes it more susceptible to damage, so adding a strong carry case would be a good idea.

Mobility is outstanding and the best in this group. During constant multi-tasking, we managed to get 354 minutes of use from the compact battery. This increased to 371 minutes when using Vista's Power Saver settings, making this the perfect choice for long journeys.

Stunning screen

The VAIO's 11.1-inch screen is stunning. Using LED backlighting, it is less power-consuming to aid battery performance. Colour, clarity and brightness are excellent, and great for viewing photos, but its glossy Super-TFT coating increases reflections in bright conditions.

Usability is mixed. The keyboard has each key protruding though a hole in the chassis casing. While the keys are small, they are responsive and comfortable. The touchpad is large, but its two mouse buttons are placed too far forward on the chassis and are awkward to access.

An integrated HSDPA module is fitted for wireless broadband internet access, with the SIM card slotting neatly beneath the battery. An integrated camera above the screen lets you easily add video to online messaging software.

The use of an Ultra Low Voltage processor improves battery efficiency at the expense of performance. You won't want to use the VAIO for anything other than basic tasks, but simple photo editing is still possible. Storage is comprehensive. The 100GB hard drive and dual-layer DVD rewriter let you back up and share your data. Built-in Bluetooth and a 6-in-1 card reader can be used to connect to and share files with external devices. A fingerprint scanner adds security.

Unfortunately, the Sony lacks the extensive warranty cover of its rivals. Only one year of cover is provided. This alone may deter more cautious buyers, but is standard for a consumer system. Upgrading to three-years of onsite repairs is expensive and costs £239.

Combining a tiny chassis with an outstanding battery life and wireless internet access, the Sony VAIO VGN-TZ21WN/B is perfect for daily travel use. Unfortunately, its high price, low performance and basic warranty mean there are better and more affordable options available.