Sony VAIO review: VGN-AW21XY/Q

Only an elite few machines soar above the £2,000 mark, and those that do need something special to justify the outlay. This Sony VAIO just about does it.


IT Pro Verdict

The RGB LED screen, Blu-ray writer and awesome specification result in the best all-round desktop replacement on the market.

Recommended Award

Sometimes you don't want a desktop machine particularly if you don't like to work from home and want something that can be tidied away. The Sony VAIO VGN-AW21XY/Q sets its stall out as an true desktop replacement powerhouse thanks to several attributes, not least its stunning screen. As well as boasting a diagonal width of 18.4in and a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, helped as it is by RGB LED technology.The extra two inches mean that the panel's sheer vivacity and sharpness look very impressive. And we were also pleased to note that the colours weren't quite as saturated as they were in the Studio XPS, which required tweaking before looking its best. The VAIO required no such adjustments and is one of the best laptop screens we've ever seen - ideal for both work and play in equal measure.Sony's audio heritage means that the VAIO doesn't boast brand label speakers, but the pair you get - in concert with the single subwoofer - combine to produce plenty of volume and impressive clarity.The commitment to quality extends to the chassis, which is one of the sturdiest and most stylish we've seen. There aren't many flashy touches - the VAIO logo across the glossy lid and the green ring around the hinge is about as extravagant as this machine gets - but the leather across the wrist-rest and glowing media buttons just ooze class.The familiar scrabble-tile keyboard is one of the best examples we've tried too, offering more travel and a more positive action than keyboards of the Apple MacBook Air or the more recently-reviewed 17in MacBook Pro.The trackpad is another highlight: it's wide and responsive pad with a pair of comfortable buttons. And, scattered around the chassis is a decent selection of ports and sockets, including USB, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire and an HDMI output.

Mike Jennings


Mike Jennings has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has been fascinated by computers since childhood, when he spent far too long building terrible websites. He loves desktop PCs, components, laptops and anything to do with the latest hardware.

Mike worked as a staff writer at PC Pro magazine in London for seven years, and during that time wrote for a variety of other tech titles, including Custom PC, Micro Mart and Computer Shopper. Since 2013, he’s been a freelance tech writer, and writes regularly for titles like Wired, TechRadar, Stuff, TechSpot, IT Pro, TrustedReviews and TechAdvisor. He still loves tech and covers everything from the latest business hardware and software to high-end gaming gear, and you’ll find him on plenty of sites writing reviews, features and guides on a vast range of topics.

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