Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI review

Staggering power and immersive 3D from this stylish multimedia laptop

This is an active 3D laptop, meaning you will need special active glasses to enjoy the effect

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Good 3D effect

  • +

    Excellent office performance

  • +

    Blu-ray burner

  • +

    Great screen


  • -

    Keys a bit rattly

  • -

    Graphics could be better

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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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