Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

Image 1: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

A thin, light and powerful ultra-portable. No, we are not talking about an ultrabook but the latest Vaio Z from Sony. This legendary series returns with a new design and especially a dock to transform it into a living room computer. The price is still as inaccessible to ordinary people and it will have to be justified because now for half, the ultrabook does as well on many points.

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Image 2: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

Aluminum and carbon

The Z series has been around for a few years now and had achieved a certain popularity by offering powerful and compact machines for their time. Despite their qualities, these notebooks had been overtaken by Apple’s Macbook Air in terms of portability. The 2011 version releases a brand new design more capable of going against competing ultra-laptops and in particular ultrabooks. But it is especially the Power Media Dock that allows the Vaio Z to stand out from the crowd because it incorporates a powerful graphics card and a Blu-ray burner. Externally, this Vaio VPC-Z21 is more reminiscent of the X series released in 2009. Sony indeed abandons the prominent round hinges in favor of a more classic design. The general design is quite unusual.

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Image 3: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

A perfect screen

The on-board panel is of an unusual size of 13.1 inches and adopts a high resolution (1600 x 900) perfect for both office and multimedia use. Certain versions of this Vaio Z can even go up to 1080p but the interest of such a resolution is in our opinion limited, to the point of being almost disabling given the pitch. The image quality is simply excellent with superb colors, good contrast and wide viewing angles. We regret, however, the choice of a semi-glossy slab which limits visibility outdoors. It is however not a mirror, the anti-reflection treatment is effective.

Image 4: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

No compromise

Unlike ultrabooks, this Vaio Z has a classic mobile processor and not an ultra low consumption version. If this brings significantly more raw power, it will be necessary to see if this choice is not too handicapping for autonomy. There is therefore a Core i7-2620M with two cores and clocked at 2.7 GHz (3.4 in Turbo mode). All this is accompanied by 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. On the graphics side, the machine alone is content with the HD3000 integrated into the processor. Considering the power of the components, this computer does well from a thermal point of view. The temperature never becomes bothersome. Unfortunately this is done at the expense of noise, the two small fans being heard quite quickly.

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Image 5: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

Power at the end of the line

It is probably the Media Power Dock which is the main originality of this notebook. This Vaio Z is indeed the first PC to use the Thunderbolt interface. It is a new communication standard introduced by Intel at the beginning of the year on Apple computers. Without going into technical details, it offers in its basic version a bandwidth of 1280 MB / s. For comparison, USB 3.0 only offers a maximum speed of 600 MB / s. Sony has made a less conservative choice and uses Thunderbolt technology with fiber optics which increases the speed tenfold to bring it to 100 Gbits / s, or 12,800 MB / s.

Image 6: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroidsThe connector is another difference from Apple’s implementation. Where the apple brand uses a Display Port, Sony uses a modified USB connector. If the two approaches have their logic since they allow not to have to introduce a new connector, it is regrettable that all this is incompatible. The choice of Intel not to impose a connector will complicate the lives of users, at least until a standard is required. The Power Media Dock is therefore connected via a cable grouping the power supply and the Thunderbolt socket. It is also unusable without being connected to the mains itself. If we understand that it is impossible to use the integrated graphics card without additional energy, we would have liked to be able to use the recorder.

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Balance sheet

Image 7: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids

This Vaio Z poses many problems when we take stock. Sony has indeed given us a very atypical computer. Although it adopts the format, this Vaio is not a classic ultraportable. Its processor allows it to tackle tasks that we usually avoid on this kind of notebook (HD video editing, heavy photo editing), while maintaining good autonomy. If we add his Power Media Dock, he even becomes able to run games properly if they are not too demanding. There remains the main problem, that of the price.

At 1800 euros minimum without the dock (300 euros more on DVD), we can’t help comparing this Vaio with ultrabooks. At half price, they do just as well in mobility, even better for finesse and autonomy. In addition, their look is much more attractive. For the price of the Vaio and its dock in Blu-ray version, you can acquire an ultrabook and a full desktop computer better equipped for gaming. Sony plays the card of mobility and power with brilliance by producing a notebook d ‘exception whose interest is however tarnished by a price too high and competition now much more active in the world of ultra-portable.

Buy VPC-Z21 at the best price

Image 8: Sony Vaio VPC-Z21: ultra-portable on steroids