Sony Vaio CS21S/V review

Alan Lu
11 May 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT



14.1 in 1,280x800 display, 2.6kg, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium

Sony sent us an electric purple version of the VGN-CS21S, although you can choose from a variety of shocking colours.

The keyboard panel slopes downwards towards the edges, making it comfortable to rest your hands on, and there's a large, responsive touchpad with big, lightly sprung buttons. The keyboard is recessed and its flat keys are widely separated. If you don't hit a key dead centre, you end up hitting the edge of two keys, which can lead to typing errors.

The VGN-CS21S/V has a standard 1,280x800 14in widescreen display. Its backlight is slightly uneven which, coupled with its reflective finish, results in poor viewing angles. Colours are natural, though.

The large 320GB hard disk provides plenty of room for all your files. Draft-N WiFi is included, but only a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet port rather than the faster Gigabit standard. With no eSATA, HDMI or S/PDIF ports, and only the smaller ExpressCard/34 slot, expansion options are limited.

The 2GHz Core 2 Duo T6400 processor is the slowest in this price group. Even with 4GB of RAM, performance was relatively poor. Although the VGN-CS21S/V outperformed Toshiba's M10-11V, bear in mind that the M10-11V runs Windows Business, which lowers the PCMark Vantage score. Battery life was respectable at three hours and 44 minutes, and at 2.6kg the laptop is just light enough to carry in a bag without becoming a burden.

As well as the usual Vaio utility software, Sony has bundled Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 and a casual games bundle, as well as Microsoft Works 9 and DVD player software. If you take the cost of this software off the price, the VGN-CS21S/V appears better value.

While it is an attractive laptop and is available in a variety of interesting colours, Sony's glitter looks out of place in this month's group. Dell's Studio XPS 13 is smart in a more refined way, and as it's lighter and has better performance, it's a much better choice.

Basic Specifications

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo T6400
Processor clock speed2GHz
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption idle22W
Power consumption active45W


Viewable size14.1 in
Native resolution1,280x800
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce 9300M GS
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory256MB


Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive modelMatshita UJ880AS
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL DVD-RAM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Total Firewire ports1
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking support802.11a/n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
Supported memory cardsSDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input


Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedWinDVD 8 for VAIO, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0, Big Fish Games Suite, Microsoft Works 9
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

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