Sony VAIO VPC-Y21S1E/SI review

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

The small form factor of this laptop makes it perfect for life on the road

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Attractive, slim and light

  • +

    Sharp and bright widescreen display

  • +

    Excellent battery life

  • +

    Highly usable

  • +

    Strong networking


  • -

    Flimsy lid

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    Stilted performance

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    Limited graphical capabilities

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    No DVD drive

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    Not much storage space

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Sony's rather immense range of VAIO laptops can be more than a little daunting for first-time buyers. Although most high street retailers only stock a handful at any one time, there are actually a huge number of VAIO models, split into various skews depending on the components used.

From the tiny PDA-style VAIO P Series, to the powerhouse VAIO F Series, it can be tricky working out which VAIO laptop suits you best.

Sony's VAIO Y Series follows the mantra of 'everyday mobility', with the aim of packing decent multimedia performance into a slim and light chassis.

Sony already has a strong catalogue of ultraportable laptops, including the recently released VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B which weighs just 1.4kg yet is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor. Performance is unbeatable at that weight, but the price – which tops the two grand mark – is well beyond most consumers.

This is where the VAIO VPCY VPCY21S1E/SI fits into the ultraportable picture. Sony has trimmed back on the cost of components, so while the VAIO Y-Series has considerably less power than the Z-Series, it also comes at a price that won't worry your wallet.

Build quality

First impressions are certainly promising, thanks to a solid plastic chassis that sports an attractive metallic look. The VAIO VPCY's power button has unusually been placed on the right hinge, and glows seductively when the laptop is turned on.

At a weight of 1.7kg, and with a thickness of just 30mm, this is an excellent laptop for slipping into a bag and carrying around all day.

However, although the VAIO VPCY's body is mostly well constructed, it does suffer from one potentially fatal flaw. The lid is surprisingly flimsy and buckles in the centre under even light pressure, so a hefty knock could easily damage the display and mean lights out for your laptop.

As long as you're careful there shouldn't be a problem, but accidents do happen and we'd recommend a sturdy padded case for transporting the VAIO VPCY.

Thankfully the keyboard has no such problems, as a firm and well-sized isolation-style board is in place. This is a popular keyboard design of late, with keys that protrude through individual holes cut in the laptop's chassis.

This increases the space between each key, making touch typing easier while reducing the amount of dust, crumbs and other rubbish that can settle beneath them. The VAIO VPCY's keys are well sized although the Return key has been squashed to just a single row, and there's no room on the compact chassis for a dedicated numeric pad.