Sony VAIO VPC-Y21S1E/SI review

A highly portable laptop with a sharp screen, but offers limited performance

TODO alt text

The Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/SI is Sony's attempt to make an affordable ultraportable, with all the benefits of a netbook - such as slim dimensions and a long-lasting battery - but with a higher specification also.

Unfortunately, while there's a lot to like about the VAIO VPCY, a flawed design and subdued performance greatly reduce its desirability.

We Liked

The plastic chassis is reasonably solid in most areas, and looks sleek thanks to an attractive metallic finish. A slim and compact build, with a weight of just 1.7kg and thickness of 30mm, is perfect for slipping into bags for the daily commute.

The VAIO VPCY easily beats most modern netbooks in terms of performance, with office applications running smoothly at all times. Battery life smashes most other laptops too, with 428 minutes of productivity from a single charge.

Movie fans will love the VAIO VPCY's sharp and bright 13.3-inch display, with a widescreen aspect ratio perfect for watching the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

The VAIO VPCY is also a highly usable little machine, with a solid isolation-style keyboard and Sony's usual helpful shortcut buttons giving easy access to your media and system backup tools.

We Disliked

Although the VAIO VPCY is light, thin and reasonably solid, the lid exhibits a worrying amount of flex in the centre. A hefty blow could easily damage the screen.

The 320GB of storage is limiting for anyone with a large media collection, and the lack of a DVD drive means you'll need to invest in an external drive or simply do without.

Finally, that low-voltage Intel Pentium processor and the basic integrated graphics card means that the VAIO VPCY's performance is highly restricted. Games and professional design packages don't stand a chance, and anyone requiring more power will have to up their budget.


We were impressed by the portability of Sony's new Y Series laptop, and it's refreshing to see an ultraportable at such an affordable price. However, the flawed build quality and subdued performance are real turn-offs, and make this a difficult laptop to recommend.

If power isn't a priority, the VAIO VPCY is worth considering alongside the excellent Asus UL20A. However, if your budget can stretch to it, we highly recommend the Fujitsu Lifebook P770 or Sony VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B, which pack a lot more power into a similarly light and compact chassis.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter:

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Hard Drive Capacity320 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Solid State Drive CapacityNo
Product FamilyVAIO Y
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Processor ModelU5400
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium
Brand NameSony
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypePentium
Screen Size33.8 cm (13.3")
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.78 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM55 Express
Number of Total Memory Slots2
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports3
Memory StandardDDR3-800/PC3-6400
Height32 mm
Width326 mm
Depth226.5 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesY
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelVPCY21S1E/SI
Product NameVAIO VPCY21S1E/SI Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineVAIO
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVPCY21S1E/SI.CEK
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationA truly individual notebook, VAIO Y Series lets you express your style with a choice of 6 bold and bright colours: green, blue, pink, violet, silver or black with colour-coordinated optional accessories. Looks good by your side and matches your own personal tastes.
Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Package Contents
  • VAIO VPCY21S1E/SI Notebook
  • Lithium-Ion Battery
  • AC Adapter
  • Power Cord