The Sony Vaio VGN-NR21M/S is a stylish laptop that sits in the middle ground between super-small ultraportables and space hogging desktop replacements. You wouldn't want to cart it around everywhere you go, but it won't require too much physical exertion to transport. With an asking price of £649 from PC World, this addition to the NR series is affordable, too.
The NR21M has a distinctive finish on its lid and keyboard surround, with a pattern of small, uniform indentations covering it entirely like little tiny thumbprints. It certainly stands out from the competition. The edges have been pleasantly rounded off, so there are no sharp corners, making it a very stylish machine.
When it comes to performance, it's got enough power for general office applications. Unless you're planning to do anything extreme on it, you should find it sufficient. Its 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and generous 2GB of RAM managed to achieve a passable PCMark05 result of 3,567.
It's also pretty good for battery life too -- it managed to keep going for nearly a full 2 hours while running the intensive Battery Eater test and carried on for a total of 3 hours 20 minutes when faced with the less strenuous Reader test.
The 15.4-inch screen is a decent size to work on and as it's a glossy X-black model, it offers great colours and contrast. Unfortunately, it's more reflective than a normal model, so outside use will be difficult. There's plenty of space for a good-sized keyboard and it's pleasant to type on, if a little springy.
It's well-equipped when it comes to ports and connectors, with four USB ports and one for FireWire. The USB ports are sensibly split with two on each side, providing flexibility when it comes to positioning your peripherals.
It also comes with an ample hard drive allocation of 200GB and an internal DVD writer for backup. There's also not one but two card slots on the front -- one for Memory Stick and the other for SD.
If you're also looking for a machine you can play games on, then you'll be disappointed by the performance of the integrated Intel X3100 graphics chip. It only managed to score 547 in 3DMark06, ruling out any serious gaming.
As mentioned previously, it's not an ultraportable, tipping the scales at 3kg. It's fine for moving around the office or home but not something you'd want to carry with you on your daily commute.
Although it includes a large touchpad, it's positioned slightly off centre so you'll need to adjust. The buttons are also situated fairly close to the bottom edge of the machine, making them a stretch to reach.
All in all, the NR21M is an affordable laptop that offers plenty of power, provided you're not interested in playing games. It's too heavy to take everywhere with you, but it offers decent battery life when disconnected from the mains. It's also got distinctive styling that keeps it from being your ordinary, run-of-the-mill machine.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday