The surface of the display can be described as a combination out of a glare panel with a matte display. Reflections can appear in some lighting and viewing angle scenarios, but the contours are badly defined, which makes them significantly less distracting. Combined with the high brightness level of the display outdoor use of the Sony VPC-Z21 is possible without problems in almost all circumstances. Even direct sunlight on the display doesn't trump the images, and it is still possible to navigate the display accurately.
The thoroughly convincing points are unfortunately followed by a less pleasant aspect: The viewing angle stability. Typically the display is blessed with SONY VGP-BPL8 battery and relatively tolerable viewing angles in the horizontal plane, but in the vertical plane the images can quickly become less than ideal. Already a few degrees of deviation from the ideal location are enough to clearly alter the colors. This can unfortunately lead to limitations particularly during mobile use. In this case we experienced a frequently required adjusting of the opening angle in order to acquire a correct presentation on the display.
The 'Z' in the product description has been an indication for especially good performance reserves for Sony devices for a long time. In the case of the reviewed Vaio, Sony has opted for the dual-core model CPUs from the Intel Sandy Bridge palette. What is interesting is the fact that - in contrast to the initial expectations for the adoption of ULV processors - the standard 35W TDP processors shave been used.
Sony is currently listing three different models in the online configuration options: i5-2410M as the entry level model, i5-2524M with an already extended VT-x and VT-d functionality, and finally the i7-2620M CPU; in other words the currently fastest available dual-core processor with a base clock speed of 2.7 GHz and a Turbo bandwidth up to 3.4 GHz, as long as only Sony VGP-BPS9 battery is utilized and adequate cooling is provided. In light of the base unit height of only about 12 millimeters, this could be more complicated than thought though. More on this later.Integrated into the notebook, or more accurately: Directly in the CPU unit, there is also Intel's HD Graphics 3000 graphics solution, which is intended for office use and can therefore perform less demanding tasks with less power consumption.
When it comes to particular professional tasks the Intel solution does significantly lag behind compared to other independent graphics solutions though. For this reason Sony has equipped the Power Media Dock with an AMD HD 6650M graphics chip with 1 GB of dedicated DDR3 graphics memory. In order to dock the notebook graphics intensive applications have to be closed, and the picture is interrupted very briefly. Following this, after a few seconds, the system is once again ready for use though.
The Radeon HD 6650M is a mid-range graphics card from the current AMD 6xxxM family. The chip is DirectX 11 compatible, can decode HD material with its UVD3 decoder and Sony VGP-BPS10 battery, supports the output of 7.1 surround sound via HDMI, and can theoretically drive 5 monitors simultaneously thanks to AMD Eyefinity. Apart from graphics concerns, there are therefore also plenty of reasons that are supposed to make the use of this GPU appealing.
When it comes to the RAM there is the option of either 4 or 8 GB of memory of the DDR3 1333 MHz variety, which is however soldered onto the motherboard, and can thus not be upgraded. The right choices should also be made when selecting the main storage memory, which is inevitably in the form of a Solid State Drive (SSD) in the case of the Vaio Z21. The options are either flash SSD with a capacity of 128-512 GB, or SSDs in the online configuration of the 'third generation', which should have some additional performance. Or reviewed device contained the standard 128 GB entry level solution.
Let's start with the analysis of the included CPU. During the Cinebench R10 Single CPU Rendering test we observed a clock speed of 3.2 GHz with short peaks of 3.4 GHz, which became less and less frequent as the test progressed. The result of 5444 points is among the best compared to other devices with the same CPU.
During the Multi CPU Rendering test from Cinebench R10, the chip clock speed remained constant at 3.2 GHz. The cooling fan operates audibly louder, but the processor temperature doesn't exceed 80°C according to HWMonitor. Result: 11444 points. This also makes the Sony Vaio Z21 one of the fastest i7-2620M systems, which we have reviewed so far.
The surprise came during the OpenGL test from Cinebench. After the first judders of the benchmark, Cinebench crashed. We started again usingthe 64-bit mode, and reached an unusually weak 300 points following a painfully juddering benchmark. A typical result would be between 5000 and 6000 points. Why? We continued with the tests.
During the Cinebench R11.5 CPU test a similar picture emerges in terms of the clock speed and the temperature. The chip stays constant at 3.2 GHz and 80°C. The cooling fan, or fans, operate at full capacity though. The 3.05 points scored also put the 2620M CPU in the targeted area in this case.
2. The AC adapter works with electrical outlets worldwide. However, power connectors vary among countries. Before you use Sony VAIO power supply in a foreign country, you may need to obtain a new power cable designed for use in that country.
3. If the computer is connected to a Dell docking device, you can run the computer on AC power by connecting the AC adapter to the docking device.
4. If you are running your computer on AC power with a battery installed, the AC adapter charges the battery (if needed) and then maintains the battery's charge.
5. To avoid overheating the Sony VAIO AC adapter when powering the computer or charging the battery, use the Sony Vaio VPCZ21 adapter in a ventilated area, such as on a desktop or on the floor. Do not use the AC adapter in a poorly ventilated environment, such as inside a carrying case.