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

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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.

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