Sony’s Vaio Z is not for the faint hearted in monetary terms, but if you can stump up the required cash it is an absolute dreamboat of a computer. Small, light, beautifully made and brimming with features. If we had the money it is what we’d choose.
Starting at 1.41kg the Vaio Z measures 314 x 210 x 23.8 – 32.7mm. Its thin, tidy profile is stunning to look at. The carbon fibre chassis means it can survive a few knocks, though the particularly thin lid section exhibits a huge amount of flex. You’ll want a solid carrying case for this laptop.
The screen is necessarily small. It measures 13.1 inches across diagonal corners, but its 1920 x 1080 pixels make it suitable for having two working windows opened at once, and despite the small overall size we didn’t find ourselves squinting too much. The 16:9 aspect ratio is full HD so movie viewing is a rather pleasurable experience too. And unlike some small format laptops, Sony has found space for an optical drive in the chassis so there’s no need to carry a separate drive if you are a DVD movie fan.
If we have a complaint about the screen it is that it has an anti-glare coating which makes it difficult to see when a light source is behind you.
The keyboard is simply superb. The keys are isolated from each other and this helps with hitting them accurately. There is a backlight that is controlled by a light sensor which you can turn off if you want to conserve battery power, but which comes in quite handy. The trackpad has scroll zones built into it, and there is a fingerprint sensor between the mouse buttons.
A webcam sits above the screen and you get the ArcSoft WebCam software with it which lets you use the camera for motion detection, video and stills capture.
An Intel Core i7 processor provides huge processing power and there was 6GB of RAM in our sample, with 8GB the maximum supported. A hybrid graphics system lets you choose between Nvidia or Intel chipsets. There is a three-way button above the keyboard with which you can opt for one or the other or choose ‘auto’ mode where the laptop selects the most appropriate set-up for your current tasks.
The idea is to conserve battery power, and you may well find this is necessary. We got a little under two and a half hours of movie playback with the graphics system set to auto. It’ll get you through a film, but if you want to actually work away from mains power for extended periods you could be disappointed.
Connectivity options are plentiful with mobile broadband, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth all here. Our review sample had 256GB of Solid State Drive space. There are three USB connectors, HDMI, ExpressCard slot, Ethernet connector, VGA-out, headphones and microphone jacks, Memory Stick slot, SD card slot and a manual switch for wireless.
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