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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sony VAIO S series VPC-SA21GX/BI

The Sony VAIO S series VPC-SA21GX/BI is redesigned and created more portable without skimming down on some high-end features. It has a high resolution 13.3-inch HD screen, Blu-ray option and strong AMD graphics. The design, however, may not visually satisfy everyone. 

Sony VAIO S series VPC-SA21GX/BI measures 13 x 8.8 x 0.9 inches (wdh) and weighs 3.6-pounds, which is much thinner and lighter than previous S models of Sony VAIO. Although it is not quite thin and light and ultraportable as Apple MacBook Air, still it is definitely portable. The SA model, which was our review unit, comes in black or platinum silver and "higher-end" model than SB version of the VAIO S line. 

It has a magnesium alloy frame that makes it pretty lightweight, yet strong. It has a design that is very similar to the previous white Apple MacBook. It features a unique angular design that maybe not everyone will like in terms of visual appeal.

The keyboard on Sony VAIO VPC-SA21GX/BI S series provides plenty of space between the keys, which are slightly recessed in the keyboard deck. The keyboard is also backlit, which is a really positive feature that is missing on many laptops on the market today. Touchpad is on average small for a laptop of this size and has a rather frictionless surface that supports multitouch gestures. Between a mouse buttons below the touchpad is a fingerprint scanner for added security, but we found this to be a rather strange, yet unique, place to put it. 

The 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels, which is slightly higher in resolution in those comparable models. It also has a matte finish, which really helps to cut down on glare, but as a result, you sacrifice some color vividness. Other than that, it had good brightness levels and streaming HD content looked really good. 

The port selection on the VAIO series VPC-SA21GX/BI S contains one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, VGA-out, Ethernet, a card reader SD/memory stick and a headphone/microphone combo jack. In addition to this you will receive also an optical drive (a Blu-ray option is available), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and optional 3g wireless data capabilities. The inclusion of USB 3.0 really shows that Sony of this VAIO S series has updated their laptop and we highly appreciate that. There is also a support for the Intel (WiDi)-wireless display technology, so you can stream HD content on an HDTV without any cables. Of course you must purchase a separate converter box to do this, for your HDTV. 

The specs include a second generation dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU m-2410 (2.3 GHz) CPU, 4 GB of DDR3 memory, a 500 GB 5400RPM hard drive and a dual-graphics configuration (integrated Intel HD AMD Radeon HD 3000 & 6630M). The "Sandy Bridge" CPU combined with 4 GB of RAM and graphics really helps the performance of this laptop compared to previous models and it helps compete with other similar portable 13-inch laptops.

Dual-graphics setup is a little less intuitive than the Nvidia Optimus laptops that seamlessly swap between the integrated and discrete graphics based on your needs. Instead of this laptop, you must activate the discrete AMD graphics via the button weirdly labeled with “Stamina/Speed ". With that you have to exit all programs you have open and the screen flickers for a moment, while the graphics are switched. This physical switching is much less “great " compared with the Nvidia, as already noted, but we still like the ability to have discrete graphics capability, where necessary. 

Due to the discrete graphic, you can use this laptop for some occasional 3D gaming as it gives decent performance in this category, but certainly isn't the best you can get compared to both other laptops and desktops. Aside from gaming, the VPC-SA21GX/BI gave us a really excellent all around performance, particularly in the case of multitasking and watching HD movies. 

In terms of battery life, you can expect to get approximately 3.5 hours of battery life while using graphic films (approximately 5 hours without). If you want more life, you can buy "Slice" battery pack that will add approximately 2 hours. 

User Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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