The combination of powerful hardware, light-weight design, excellent performance and super-cool looks, is something that one cannot expect from ultra-portable laptops. But, the Sony Vaio Z is here to break that notion. It is not only stylish, something that typical of Sony Vaio laptops, but is also as powerful as a desktop PC. This laptop is special in all aspects. As a matter of fact its core hardware will blow you away.
Design and build quality
Sony laptops are known for their style and finesse, and the Vaio Z follows the exact same trail. It sports a minimalist design with good build quality, despite the slimness. The screen is ridiculously thin, but the hinges take care of stability. Also, the unit is slightly over an inch in thickness, but the use of metal makes it sturdy and gives it a slick look.
Based on a metallic theme, the lid is black and the chassis is of dark grey aluminum with a slightly brushed finish. Even the wrist rest, touchpad and mouse buttons are matte. Ergonomically, there isn’t anything to complain about as the chiclet keyboard has well-spaced keys and the Enter and Shift keys are well-sized. The laptop weighs merely 1.37 Kg which makes it extremely convenient to carry. You can slide it into your rucksack without feeling its presence. Overall, it has a sheer business look and feel.
In terms of features, it’s the phenomenal hardware that distinguishes this laptop from others. Built around the Intel HM57 chipset, the Vaio Z is powered by the Intel Core i7 M620 processor, which is a dual-core variant, clocked at 2.67 GHz. Furthermore, there is a whopping 8 GB DDR3 RAM and four SSDs (in raid) of 64 GB each (total 250 GB usable space). These are the main highlights of this laptop. Also, equipped with a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT330M GPU and a full-HD 13.1inch screen (1920 x 1080), this laptop is good even for HD movies and gaming at medium settings.
Here’s the interesting part -- there’s a three-way hardware switch above the keyboard that lets you toggle between the onbaord Intel graphics and the discrete Nvidia graphics. You can make the switch manually, and alternatively, you can set to ‘automatic’ where the laptop switches to onboard graphics when unplugged from the mains.
Apt for business users, the laptop even features a finger print scanner located between the mouse buttons. The keyboard is backlit (there’s an automatic light sensor), so you don’t have to worry about using an external light source when using the laptop in the dark. There are 3 USB, an HDMI and a VGA port, 2 memory-card readers, audio jacks, physical switch for wireless connectivity, webcam, a DVD-writer and a Kensington lock slot. Connectivity options include WiFi N, gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth, and, the unit ship pre-loaded with Windows 7 Professional (64 bit).
The overall performance of the Vaio Z is comparable to that of a desktop PC, thanks to the processor, surplus main memory and the presence of SSDs. You can seamlessly run high end applications such as, editing images with designing suites, encoding audio, editing videos and such. Take a look at the overall PCMark scores and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Even gaming is possible at medium resolutions and settings. In addition to our standard synthetic and real-world benchmarks, we ran Crysis in the Performance mode at 1680 x 1050 (No AA). The laptop churned a playable 38.5 fps which is phenomenal for a laptop this form factor, size and weight. The discrete GPU and the full HD screen, make playing games and watching movies truly amazing. That’s right, contrary to a standard laptop screen resolution; the 13.1–inch screen on this laptop has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080.
While you have the option to switch to an external display, we don’t think that the need would arise; the native display is very good. You might want to change the default text size in the Windows display settings to atleast 125 percent, because at the native resolution the text is very small. The one thing that didn’t impress us as much was the sound. Although the sound was good, its volume was almost below audible range. Another downer was the 3 hours 37 minutes battery backup under medium load.
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