Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI review

Staggering power and immersive 3D from this stylish multimedia laptop

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Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Quad-core

View full specification


  • Good 3D effect
  • Excellent office performance
  • Blu-ray burner
  • Great screen


  • Keys a bit rattly
  • Graphics could be better

With the resurgence of 3D technology still in full swing, Sony is the latest to jump on the bandwagon with the release of its VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI.

While it's not the most graphically powerful machine around, it still makes for a formidable 3D media centre. Although the 16-inch chassis isn't the largest in Sony's range – the 17.3-inch E-Series holds that crown – it's still far from sleek.

Weighing in at 3.2kg and with a whopping 53mm depth, it's built strictly for home use, though the 175-minute battery allows for basic mobility when required.

The design is suitably high-end. Finished in glossy black plastic and with a matt plastic palm rest, the chassis exudes quality and tapers towards the user for added comfort when typing. The high-gloss finish is a magnet for fingerprints though, so will need regular cleaning.

Thankfully the spacious, isolated-style keyboard features matt plastic keys. While the board bounces ever so slightly when typing, the keys are responsive and move with a comfortably sharp action.

The 16-inch screen is its crowning glory. While not the brightest panel we've seen, colours are vibrant, with sharp contrast and deep black levels. The matt finish eliminates reflections, while the full HD 1920x1080 resolution means you can watch high-definition Blu-ray movies in all their glory.

Immersive 3D

The 3D effect is delivered via a chunky pair of Sony-branded active shutter glasses. As with most 3D laptops, these reduce the impact of the screen's colour and brightness, but the overall effect is stunning. Images leap from the screen for a truly immersive 3D experience.

The dedicated Nvidia GT 540M graphics card delivers enough power to run most modern games with ease. It's not the most powerful option, so some 3D games struggle slightly and show some lag, but there is more than enough power on offer for editing photos or high-definition video.

Home office performance is staggering, however. Using a processor from Intel's cutting-edge Sandy Bridge range, complex multi-tasking is handled effortlessly and few laptops can match this level of power.


Battery life: 175 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 290
3DMark 2003: 21,071

Other features and components are just as impressive. The 640GB hard drive provides exceptional storage space and the optical drive can burn Blu-ray discs, CDs and DVDs. Microsoft Office 2010 Starter software is also included as standard, adding to the value.

While the slightly underwhelming graphics performance is unfortunate, when it comes to raw 3D entertainment potential few laptops are better than the VPCF21Z1E/BI. And with such staggering, cutting-edge office performance, it will last for years to come.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity640 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerNVIDIA
Graphics Controller ModelGeForce GT 540M
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeBlu-ray Writer
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyVAIO F
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Processor Modeli7-2630QM
ColourPremium Black
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium
Brand NameSony
Processor Speed2 GHz
Processor TypeCore i7
Screen Size40.6 cm (16")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Standard Memory8 GB
Cache6 MB
Processor CoreQuad-core
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM65 Express
Optical Media SupportedBD-R/RE
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 1 GB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports3
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height45.5 mm
Width398.3 mm
Depth271.3 mm
Screen ModeFull HD
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesF
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelVPCF21Z1E/BI
Product NameVAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineVAIO
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVPCF21Z1E/BI.CEK
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

There's something unique about every VAIO notebook. Constantly evolving, each model in the lineup features innovative design elements and a rare blend of colors and textures that cannot be overlooked.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Package Contents
  • VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI Notebook
  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • AC Adapter
  • 3D Glasses