Sony’s Powerful Vaio Z Series Notebooks

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Computers incorporating a solid-state drive (SSD) already offer advantages such as svelte design and quick boot-up, but Sony takes its newest VAIO Z Series models even further with backlit keyboards, up to 16 hours of combined battery life using an optional sheet battery, and the ability to drive up to three additional displays. While all the VAIO Z series models mentioned in this article have a 13.1” LED-backlit display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the low-end models have a respectable 1600 x 900 native resolution while the high-end models have a Full HD 1920 x 1080 native resolution, which also happens to be the standard for HDTVs.

Along with providing the best possible picture, these Z Series notebook computers offer convenient portability with a weight as light as 2.6 pounds, using the embedded battery. The run time can be doubled by snapping a 1.15 lb sheet battery to the bottom of the computer. The sheet battery adds only 0.3-inches to the Z’s intrinsically thin height of less than an inch. There’s also the Power Media Dock with a stand that’s included with all Sony VAIO Z series models. More than an external optical drive,  Sony has cleverly added a powerful AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card with 1GB of dedicated memory into the dock so that intensive processes like rendering and gaming get the performance boost you’d expect from a dedicated work station. With the dock connected, you’ll be able to attach up to three external displays and take advantage of a lightning-fast USB 3.0 port.

The screens on the three least-expensive models in the Z Series each have a 1600 x 900 native resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio and native 720p HD video playback support. 

Z-Series models belonging to the 1600 x 900 Club are the VPCZ212GX/B, VPCZ214GX/Land VPCZ214GX/B.  With a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 128GB of SSD storage, the VPCZ212GX/B is the most affordable of the VAIO Z series. It comes with the Power Media Dock, including the AMD Radeon graphics card mentioned above, and a slot-loading SuperMulti DVD burner. The blue VPCZ214GX/L and black VPCZ214GX/B (identical except for color) are each equipped with a faster 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and come bundled with a version of the Power Media Dock that contains a Blu-ray player that is also capable of burning CDs and DVDS. 

Moving on to Z-Series models with Full HD screens, the carbon fiber indigo VPCZ216GX/L and carbon fiber black VPCZ216GX/B are each powered by 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processors and come with 4GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. Their Power Media Docks also integrate Blu-ray players with CD/DVD burning capabilities.

If you’re looking for a computer with the same SSD capacity and Power Media Dock but favor bumping up the CPU to a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 and the RAM to 6GB, consider the carbon fiber gold VPCZ22UGX/N. The color alone makes this model stand apart, and no other Z can slash its way through a spreadsheet faster than, perhaps, Zorro.

The Sony Signature VAIO Z2 VPCZ21TGX/X (Premium Carbon Black) marries 6GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage to a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and is bundled with a Power Media Dock containing a Blu-ray player with CD/DVD burning capabilities.

The top-of-the-line Sony Signature VAIO Z2 VPCZ21SHX/X 13.1” Notebook Computer (Premium Carbon Black) not only doubles the SSD capacity to 512GB and pushes the RAM to 8GB, but the Power Media Dock contains a Blu-ray burner. It’s also the only computer in the series equipped with a mobile broadband transceiver for use with a Sprint, Verizon or AT&T 3G data plan.

All these Z-Series models have Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology for transmitting the computer’s high-definition picture and digital sound to your HDTV or A/V receiver via an optional WiDi receiver such as Netgear’s Push2TV TV Adapter for Intel Wireless Display or Belkin’s F7D4501 ScreenCast TV Adapter for Intel Wireless Display. That means you can keep the computer with you, close to the couch for control purposes, while sharing the show with assembled guests in your home theater.

Also common to all these models are quick-access buttons. So, for instance, the Web button gets you to the Internet without a full Windows boot-up while the VAIO button launches Media Gallery software for enjoying photos and music. All the models contain an integrated HD webcam and microphone, stereo speakers and a headphone output. They all come with noise-cancelling earbuds. Every model has a digital media card reader that can accommodate an SD card or a Memory Stick Duo card.

Each of these Z models has a footprint of about 13 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches and weighs less than 2.6 pounds. Helping to contribute to the slim design of the Z Series is the battery’s lithium polymer technology, which wraps the battery into the chassis. Users who expect to be off the grid for extended periods may want the sheet-like VGP-BPSC27 Rechargeable Extended Battery for VAIO Z Series. According to Sony, the combined batteries will power the computer for about 16 hours.

  Processor RAM Resolution SSD Color Media Dock
Sony VAIO Z Series VPC-Z212GX Notebook Computer 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5-2410M 4GB 1600 x 900 128GB Black DVD Burner
Sony VAIO Z Series VPC-Z214GX Notebook Computer 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2620M 4GB 1600 x 900 128GB Black, Blue Blu-ray ROM
Sony VAIO Z Series VPC-Z216GX  Notebook Computer 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2620M 4GB 1920 x 1080 256GB Black, Indigo Blu-ray ROM
Sony VAIO Z Series VPC-Z22UGX Notebook Computer 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-2640M 6GB 1920 x 1080 256GB Gold Blu-ray ROM
Sony Signature VAIO Z Series VPC-Z21TGX Notebook Computer 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2620M 6GB 1920 x 1080 256GB Black Blu-ray ROM
Sony Signature VAIO Z Series VPC-Z21SHX Notebook Computer 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2620M 8GB 1920 x 1080 512GB Black Blu-ray Burner