Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ netbook
The Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ netbook has a unique design and good build quality, but suffers from poor battery life
- Unique style, good build quality, excellent display, wide palm rest and good touchpad, faster processor than many netbooks, adequate performance
- Poor battery life, only two USB ports, slightly cramped keyboard
Sony has splashed the VAIO VPCW21BAGZ netbook with a Billabong theme, but it's the netbook's high resolution screen, good build quality and adequate performance that should win the most praise. The slightly cramped keyboard and poor battery life are downsides, but the VAIO VPCW21BAGZ remains a decent option if you're after a netbook for basic tasks.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
Sony's latest VAIO netbook is the VPCW21BAGZ; it's a competent 10in netbook with a slightly faster CPU and a higher screen resolution than most of its competitors. It also features a limited edition Billabong design that helps it stand out from the crowd.
Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ: Design
The netbook's lid features an 'Imperial Lime' design that Sony says will be seen on Billabong board-shorts this summer. Its style won't appeal to everyone, but it is definitely a unique touch. The lid has a matte finish, so it's easy to keep free of fingerprints and smudges.
Flipped open, the Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ looks and feels impressive. Its body is constructed from sturdy feeling plastic, the screen exhibits minimal flex when pressed, and the hinges feel strong. We also like the textured finish surrounding the keyboard and palm rest — it is easy to keep clean and also provides good grip while you're typing.
The VAIO VPCW21BAGZ's 10.1in screen has a glossy finish but it is less susceptible to reflections than many other notebook screens we've seen. Thankfully, the black bezel surrounding the display is matte plastic and minimises the effect of any reflections. The screen has average viewing angles, but it is bright and clear enough for most tasks. Most netbooks have 1024x600 resolution screens, but the VPCW21BAGZ's display has a higher 1366x768 resolution.
The Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ's keyboard is perhaps the weakest aspect of its design. The keys are well laid out, but some keys (including the right Shift key and the arrow keys) are much smaller and narrower than usual. The keys themselves are firm, but don't provide as much travel as we would have liked. The longer you use the keyboard the more comfortable it feels, however. The VAIO VPCW21BAGZ's touchpad is reasonably sized for a 10in netbook, and its buttons provide good travel and a reassuring click when pressed.
At 1.19kg, the Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ is easy to carry with you all day. It's a little top-heavy (so it doesn't balance well on your lap with the screen open at an angle greater than 90 degrees). It also gets reasonably warm — though not hot.
The Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ's standard 3-cell battery lasted a very poor 1hr 47min in our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video. By way of comparison, Medion's Akoya E1222 netbook, which is much cheaper than the VAIO, lasted almost four hours. If you purchase the VAIO VPCW21BAGZ, we recommend picking up the optional six-cell battery so the netbook will last longer away from a power outlet.
Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ: Performance
The Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ is powered by a 1.83GHz Intel Atom N470 processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and integrated Intel graphics. The VAIO VPCW21BAGZ is one of the first netbooks to feature the new N470 Intel Atom processor; an upgrade over last year's N280 CPU, which ran at 1.66GHz. The new processor aims to produce better performance and longer battery life.
In our performance tests, the Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ recorded a time of 6min 15sec in the Blender 3D rendering test, which is faster than the Samsung N220 netbook. However, it fell slightly short of the N220 in the iTunes MP3 encoding test — completing the task in 7min 37sec. The N220 only took 7min 3sec in this test, despite running a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450.
The Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ hasn't been designed to play games, and its low score of 158 in 3DMark06 reflects this. The 1366x768 display resolution can cope with standard-definition movies and some HD content, but it isn't large enough for any serious movie watching. The built-in speakers lack bass and distort at high volumes, but sound is adequate when using headphones. A VGA webcam is located above the display.
Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ: Connectivity
The Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ comes with two USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, microphone and headphone jacks, 10/100 Ethernet, a Kensington lock slot, an SD card slot and a Memory Stick slot. Most netbooks have at least three USB ports, so the fact that there's only two is a little disappointing, but the inclusion of a dedicated Memory Stick slot is perfect for users of Sony digital cameras. The VAIO VPCW21BAGZ also includes Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, which can be turned on and off via a switch on the front.
The Sony VAIO VPCW21BAGZ ships with Windows 7 Starter preinstalled, and it also comes with a range of software, including a handy "VAIO Gate" dock which sits at the top of the screen and performs a similar function to the Mac OSX dock. You can choose to load it upon start-up, or have it only appear when you move the mouse cursor to the top of the screen, and you can easily drag a folder or shortcut from the desktop into the VAIO Gate for quick access.
Become a fan of PC World Australia on Facebook
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World’s newsletters
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- 2 Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- 3 Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- 4 LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung ready to make chips faster than the ones in Galaxy S8
- Rumor suggests the Note8 will be a bigger S8+ that adds a missing feature
- Samsung's Bixby won’t support voice commands when it debuts on the Galaxy S8
- Fear not, early adopters: The Galaxy S8 might not be running Android 7.0 for very long
- Samsung made an even better Galaxy S8+, but you can’t have it
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTBusiness Specialist - TelecommunicationsNSW
- CCWindows System EngineerNSW
- FTSales Lead / Sales Executive - Enterprise IT Healthcare Perm - North RydeNSW
- FTSystem AnalystSA
- FTSenior Business Analyst Forecaster - TelecommunicationsNSW
- CCJava DeveloperACT
- TPAutomation TesterQLD
- FTWeb Developer | Parramatta | Initial 6 month contractNSW
- TPPrincipal Project Officer - ReportingQLD
- TPEOI - Developer/Tester/Software EngineerACT
- CCSystems Administrator - Cloud, Azure and LinuxQLD
- FTTest AnalystACT
- FTSenior Project AnalystVIC
- FTHealthcare Application Integration SupportQLD
- FTSenior Information Security SpecialistQLD
- FTFront End .Net Developer. Permanent job . ACT LocationACT
- FTFinance Analyst with Accounting | 8 Month ContractVIC
- TPSenior SQL Database AdministratorNSW
- FTIT Security RolesACT
- FTCampaign ManagerNSW
- FTProduct LeadVIC
- FTPMO Project Analytics and Tools ManagerNSW
- FTCRM Technical Specialist (Oracle Eloqua)SA
- FTReporting DeveloperSA