Sony has tried to create a strange beast in the VAIO VGN-FZ21M, namely a mobile workstation that doubles as an entertainment device. On paper, it seems to fit the bill – it has a dual-core 2 GHz CPU, a dedicated graphics card, 2 GB of RAM, and a Blu-ray combo Drive. But let’s look at each of those points separately.
As a mobile workstation, the VAIO is hampered by its low processor speed of only 1.2 GHz while on battery and its unimpressive battery life. The reflective display is one of the more distracting members of its kind and could be brighter.
As an entertainment device, the FZ21M suffers from a display that, in dark scenes, is smothered by black and dark tones, losing many details. On top of that, the viewing angle is not too great, especially for said dark tones. Despite the 1080p sticker, the built-in display only has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, so Full HD is limited to external displays. On the plus side, at least an HDMI connector ensures that this is a viable option. Still, the battery runtime haunts the laptop here as well, as you can barely complete a standard 90-minute DVD, let alone a Blu-ray Disc, due to overzealous playback software.
Finally, it’s not really a gaming notebook either. While the graphics card will let you play anything up to the last generation of games relatively smoothly, as long as you don’t try to crank up all the eye candy and image quality improvements, it won’t be your winning ticket at the next LAN event either.
So, as the saying goes, here we have a jack of all trades that is a master of none. And now that we have established that it doesn’t really fulfil Sony’s aims, let’s look at it from another perspective.
The good news is that the FZ21M is still a very convenient laptop. If you’re looking for a portable (not mobile) workstation that will mostly see duty attached to a wall socket and you don’t mind the reflective display, take a closer look. This VAIO comes with a well-rounded, even generous bundle, a good keyboard, and all the connectivity options you could wish for. It has enough power for Vista, lets you game failry well, and lets you watch a movie on DVD and even Blu-ray if you feel like it – even on your home theatre system. And finally, it does look quite stylish, in a simple but elegant way.