One thing we always expect from Sony's VAIO laptops is a gorgeous screen, and the VAIO VPC-Z21V9E doesn't disappoint. The 13.1-inch screen has a matt TFT finish, so there are no pesky reflections when you're working outside.
Despite the lack of gloss, we were struck by how realistic our photos appeared. Colours are rich and vibrant, helped by the excellent brightness levels.
On a display this size, we'd hope for a 1366 x 768 (WXGA) resolution as the minimum. Sony has gone one further, and the VAIO VPC-Z21V9E has a crisp 1600 x 900 (WXGA++) resolution, with images looking super sharp. Even the tiniest fonts are easy to make out, if your eyesight can cope.
A 256GB solid state drive (SSD) gives you reasonable space for carrying around files and media, but there's no built-in DVD drive.
However, one of the funky new features of this VAIO Z Series is the docking station, which plugs into the laptop's power and USB port, and is propped upright by the included stand. This not only adds an optical drive, it also gives you two more USB ports (one of them USB 3.0), extra VGA and HDMI ports, and another Ethernet port. Sony has also squeezed in a dedicated GPU – but more on that later.
While Sony could have built an optical drive into the VAIO VPC-Z21V9E's body, as it did with previous models, this would have bulked up the laptop. By separating it, you can carry the drive around only when needed. The extra ports are a great addition, especially as there are only two USB ports on the actual machine.
Like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, this laptop also has a built-in fingerprint scanner for extra security. If you're carrying around confidential documents and want to protect them with more than a password, this is a great alternative.