Review of the Sony Vaio Z11 VGN-Z21VN/X - High-End Laptop Spec

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Sony Vaio Notebooks

When it comes to elegance, I am sorry, Apple people, but I prefer Sony. With the looks of the notebook, the placement of the keys and lights, any Sony laptop distinguishes itself. The elegance comes with a price but you get what you really pay for.

Sony Vaio Z11 VGN-Z21VN/X

Sony Vaio Z11 VGN-Z21VN/X

CPU, RAM and Chipset (5 out of 5)

Vaio Z11 comes with Intel’s Centrino 2 platform, with 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. In the details, you get a Core 2 Duo P9500 processor running at 2.53 Gigahertz, with a 1066 MHz front side bus. The RAM is also 1066 MHz, so between the CPU and the RAM we do not have a bottleneck (this Sony style of selecting everything working at the same frequency ensures that there is nothing to have a negative impact on the performance.)

As you would expect, the laptop has the Mobile Intel GM45 Express chipset.

Graphics Adapter and Screen (5 out of 5)

The display shows bright and vivid colors and is a classic X-Black LCD. The resolution of 1600x900 exceeds HD Ready Standard in 13.1” size. The graphics adapter feeding the display is an Nvidia GeForce 9300 M GS. The adapter has 256 MB of memory, plus can use up to 1500 Megabytes of memory from the RAM. This benefits the user with performance/battery life issues: when you are using the laptop in simple tasks, the SpeedStep Technology lowers the processor speed and the graphics adapter uses its 256 MB of memory, resulting in better battery life; when needed the system uses every resource available to deliver performance, resulting in less battery life. With all these options, I still wonder why Sony does not go with the 64-bit operating system option.

Storage (4 out of 5)

The hard disk capacity is 320 Gigabytes. It spins at 7200 rpm and has SATA connection with G-Sensor Hard Disk Protection. Or in United States, you can get 128 GB of SSD (64 GB x 2 disks). Very good choice.

Regarding the card reader, I have the following letter to Sony headquarters:

Dear Sony,

Please hear us out: we are not using Sony products everywhere, we have SD cards, CF cards, xD Cards. How much will it cost you to install a 5-1 card reader? Why shall we go and buy another card reader at (about) USD 10? Why do you install only Memory Stick readers? We want you first to be user-friendly then Sony-friendly.

For this Memory-Stick-only card reader, I deduct one point.

Multimedia (4 out of 5)

The laptop has a combo optical drive, and can write DVD +/- RW, +-R DL/RAM with maximum 8x write speed (depending on the media) and, of course, CDs with maximum 24x speed. But frankly, I would expect a Blue-ray player from this model. I have reason to think so: the notebook has an HDMI port.

The sound comes from the Intel High Definition Audio chipset, from the embedded stereo speakers. The chipset is Windows Sound System compatible and supports 3D audio.

Sony has placed a Motion-Eye camera with face-tracking capability.The camera supports 640x480 (0.3 Megapixel) resolution at 15 frames per second. Come on Sony, with this pricey laptop you surely could do much better. I am sorry, you lose one point.

Connectivity (5 out of 5)

You have every option available (except Infrared) built-in on the notebook. The wireless connection is 802.11 a/b/g/Draft N, wired connection is 10/100/1000 Mbit Ethernet, V.92/V.90 modem, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR. The one thing that makes the difference is the built-in HSDPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS connection slot, shortly 3G. So, if you are out of Wi-Fi coverage, you can insert your SIM card and continue. You do not need to try to get connected to your cell phone first and setup an Internet connection.

All these connections makes Sony’s new concept, or new brand, called “Everywair”.

Other features, portability, Price and Warranty (5 out of 5)

The laptop has Infineon Trusted Platform Module and fingerprint recognition. The pointing device is the touchpad. The Z21 has dimensions of 314x210x33 mm (WxDxH) at 1.5 kilograms. With all the features inside I find the laptop ultimately portable and rate it 5 points.

The notebook is available from Sony. The UK Price is GBP 1950 from Sony Style, with a one year warranty.

Sony Vaio TT VGN-TT11VN/X

Sony Vaio TT11 VN/X

CPU, RAM and Chipset (5 out of 5)

Vaio TT 11 VN/X comes also with Intel’s Centrino 2 platform, with 4 GB of DDR 3 RAM. However, in this model we have Core 2 Duo SU9400 running at 1.4 Gigahertz with 800 Mhz front side bus. The RAM is also running at 800 Mhz.

Again, the laptop has Mobile Intel GM45 Express chipset.

Graphics Adapter and Screen (5 out of 5)

Sony uses X-Black LCD in all its notebook displays. The TT 11 VN/X benefits from this screen also. Unlike the Z21, the screen is 11.1” in size and supports HD Ready resolution at 1366x768. The graphics adapter is a Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500 MHD. This adapter can work up to 800 Megabytes of RAM, which will be enough for daily tasks plus HD video. The processor also supports SpeedStep Technology.

With the CPU and and the Graphics chipset, the laptop seems to be oriented towards mobility and longer battery life instead of performance. Evaluating the laptop for portability, I give 5 points to both the CPU and Graphics featuress.

Storage (4 out of 5)

The hard disk capacity is 160 Gigabyte. It spins with 5400 rpm and has SATA connection with G-Sensor Hard Disk Protection. Again, the hard disk is chosen for longer battery life. Spinning 5400 rpms instead of 7200 consumes less power.

Again the card reader is 1-in-1, and reads Memory Stick and variants (Pro, Duo) only. Sorry Sony, you lose one point again in storage.

Multimedia (5 out of 5)

The onboard optical drive is exactly the same with Z21. This T11 model does not have a Blue Ray reader either. But the HDMI port is present.

Sound card is again the same as the Z21.

The camera on TT11 and Z21 is different. You get 1 Megapixel camera (1280x1024) with 30 frames per second. Yes Sony, this is what you should have done with the Z21 model.

Connectivity (5 out of 5)

Sony has surprisingly succeeded in embedding the same connections with the Z21 model in a smaller form factor. 3G connection with HSUPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS is supported, in addition to 802.11 a/b/g/Draft N, Gigabit Ethernet port, onboard Ethernet and V.92/V.90 modem.

This laptop is also under Sony’s “Everywair” concept.

Other features, portability, price and warranty (5 out of 5)

T11 has the same Infineon Trusted Platform Module, fingerprint reader and touchpad as Z21. The dimensions are 279x200x35 mm (WxDxH) at 1.3 kilograms. Excellent really. Just 200 grams difference with the netbooks yet so many features. The best part is the case is carbon fibre, making the laptop differentiate itself with its looks.

The notebook is available from Sony. The price is GBP 1950 (the same with Z21) from SonyStyle and the warranty is one year.


As with most cases, we can not conclude our comparison with “go for this”. If you are working with Office documents, Internet, if you do not place heavy demands on multimedia tasks such as video editing and finally if portability is your utmost priority, then go for the T11 VN/X. If performance is your top priority, then go for the Z21 VN/X. Personally, I would choose the Z21 model over T11 despite the heavier weight.