Review Sony Vaio VGN-FE21M Multimedia-Notebook
The Sony Vaio VGN-FE21M Multimedia Notebook is to unite gaming performance owing to Intel core duo and GeForce Go 7600 with an outstanding display. Whether this is true you can read in our detailed review.
The chassis of the Sony Vaio VGN-Fe21M is very similar designed like the Sony Vaio VGN-FS485B. Unfortunately Sony uses only plastic instead of a resistant magnesium alloy for the overhead panel whereby the quality suffers noticeable. However, the lower shell and the display cover are implemented very rigidly and are manufactured from magnesium. Unfortunately the plastic parts have the unpleasant characteristic to flex and crunch under pressure (right front corner). In addition, the battery is inserted somewhat wobbly in the case. The screen bolting device is habituation needy with the Sony Notebook. Since the touchpad was positioned very far in front, the bolting device had to be placed on the right wrist rest. In order not to be disturbing when tapping, the hook must be driven out manually. Nevertheless generally the design of the VGN-FE21M succeeded well and seems high-quality. Workmanship and design are obliging.
Most interfaces are positioned on the right side. The equipment is a bit better than average, although with 3 USB 2.0 and only one analogue monitor connection not necessarily sumptuous. The allocation is ok, only the audio connections attached in front can disturb when connecting loudspeakers.
The keyboard implemented in the Sony Vaio VGN-FE21M has a pleasant layout that permits immediately 10-finger writing without errors. The keys are formed pleasantly large, but rattle during the operation relatively loud. The keyboard is inserted very firmly in the chassis. The somewhat roundish form of the normal sized keys is strange, but is not unpleasant.
The Alps touchpad in the Sony Vaio VGN-FE21M is only moderately precise. The 2 deep-sitting touchpad keys are not perfectly positioned. Blindly one always tries to press on the plastic bar between touchpad and keys. Naturally that does not lead to success. The inserted scroll function of the touchpad worked only moderately in the test. Maybe, that this can be optimized in the settings.
Above the keyboard are 3 switches for audio (off, quieter, louder) and two freely definable quick keys. The "sound off" button conviniently has inserted an LED, which informs immediately, whether the Vaio is muted. At the front there is still another practical mechanical switch for the WLAN connection. LEDs for WLAN and Bluetooth are integrated, which can't be seen well (from above).
The reflecting 16:10 widescreen is characterized by outstanding brightness values. We could measure up to 391.4 cd/m² (in the battery mode 390 cd/m²) in the center - new optimum. Unfortunately, the illuminating with only 56,3 % is a new negative record in our rating. 171 cd/m² difference from the center to the left lower corner is debt for this misery. Sony supplied the reflecting display with a "coating for antireflection". All reflectings are shifted into the violet. Thus they should be less disturbing. Owing to the very good brightness the reflections can rarely be noticed and the display is suited for the outdoor usage.
Also the contrast of 782:1 is very good owing to the very good brightness and the good black value of 0.5 cd/m². Generally the screen shows bright colors and beautiful skin tones (after a calibration with our Colorimeter). Compared with a matt MacBook Pro 15" display photos seem clearly more alive. This also proves the relatively large triangle in the color sail and the (not calibrated) color curves.
The images are good with lateral viewing angles and unfortunately rather bad from above and down (as usual for notebook displays).
Owing to the NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600 a good game performance of the Sony notebook is expected. Here unfortunately, you will be a bit disappointed, since the video card is lower clocked than usual. With 350 MHz core clock and 350 MHz memory clock it is clearly below the usual 450 MHz/500 MHz. This explains also the lower benchmark score. Thus in 3DMark it is equal with a X1600. Nevertheless, it is still better than a GeForce Go 7400 (predecessor model). During games the quite bad Quake 3 performance was remarkable (however still fully playable). In Doom3 it showed again good values.
The office performance in PCMark is not good despite that relatively fast hard disk (however in our test sample only a 100 GB hard disk was implemented). Nevertheless, all applications can be used without problems.
|3DMark 03 Standard||7255 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||2873 points|
|3DMark 06||1679 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||3577 points|
Because of the low clocked video card and the good heat management the Sony Vaio VGN-FE21M remains relatively quiet. A quiet rushing noise with max. measured 36.2 dB with full load is outstanding. However the keyboard rattles with up to 46 dB, thus nothing for quiet environments (library). Here the measured values in the detail:
idle (without load): 33.9-34.5 dB (silent rushing noise)
+ hard disk: 35.3 dB (a silent noise is audible)
DVD playback: 40.3 dB
load: 35.4-36.2 dB
The keyboard clatters with up to 46 dB!
Also the temperatures of the Sony laptop remain absolutely uncritical. With max. 34°C at the top side (touchpad) here no particular heating up is noticeable. The bottom becomes noticeably hotter, however also uncritical with maximally 41°C.
The stereo loudspeakers, which are inserted in front of the display are not able to play very loud. Also they miss any basses due to the small size of the loudspeakers.
palmwrist: 33°C max: 34°C avg: 32°C hotspot: touchpad
max: 41°C avg: 35°C hotspot: in the center a bit at the right side
The battery runtime is moderate. Perhaps the reason is, that our test sample is a pilot sample. For example the system setting "battery life span" could not be adjusted in the Vaio power management. Only the runtime without load could convince with scarcely 4h. While surfing with WLAN connection the battery keeps up 2h below average and 19 minutes (full brightness). Here are the values in the detail:
Batteryeater Classic (full load): 122 minutes
Batteryeater Reader (without load, min brightness, no WLAN): 237 minutes
DVD playback: 105 minutes (2h film only with reduced brightness)
WLAN surfing: 139 minutes (full brightness), 144 minutes (reduced brightness)
Nice feature: with low battery charging condition the LED in the power button and the LEDs at the front light for alert.
idle + min. brightness: 18-20 Watts
idle + max. brightness: 28.6 Watts
idle + WLAN + max. brightness: 30.1 Watts
full load + WLAN + max. brightness: 56 Watts
A very good display except a bad illuminating probably is the highlight of the Sony Vaio VGN-FE21M multimedia notebook. It is delivered with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and so is ready it for all multimedia tasks (a TV-tuner is missing). The performance of the Core Duo is well as expected, only the GeForce Go 7600 disappoints because of their lower clocking.