Computers / Hands-on Review

Sony VAIO Z Series Notebook Computers


With so many choices, it can be difficult selecting a mobile computer that's right for you. You've got all sorts of tablets, netbooks and notebooks to choose from. If you're looking for something that's easy to travel with but doesn't compromise on build quality or performance, then consider Sony's new VAIO Z Series notebook computers. They are lightweight, rugged, well-made and quite powerful, and they can provide many hours of run time.

Some people prefer the finer things in life, and are fortunate enough to be able to afford them, such as any one of the Sony VAIO Z Series. The VAIO Z Series is finely crafted to tight tolerances from top-notch materials, and they perform really well, being built with some of the most advanced components available.

The rigid, lightweight chassis for Z Series systems is machined from a solid block of aluminum and then encased in a carbon fiber matrix and finished in eye-catching colors including Premium Carbon Black, Carbon Black and Carbon Indigo. All Z Series systems also feature dual channel, solid-state drives combined with RAID technology to increase read/write speeds, decrease boot-up time, lower power consumption and increase reliability.

All Z Series systems feature ultra-bright LED-backlit 13.1-inch widescreen displays with 16:9 aspect ratios, native resolutions of 1600 x 900 pixels, anti-glare coatings and 100% color saturation. Z Series keyboards are illuminated so you can type in dimly lit environments. Z Series systems also feature a built-in HD webcam with excellent low-light performance and face tracking technology to keep you in focus as you move around.

Z Series systems support Intel’s WiDi technology, or Wireless Display technology, which lets you share content from a hard disk, home network or browser on a big screen TV. But you need Netgear’s Push2TV adapter to make this happen. The Push2TV adapter works with any notebook computer that supports Intel WiDi technology. In a nutshell, the notebook transmits its video output wirelessly to the Push2TV adapter, which then feeds the signal through HDMI and composite outputs to a high-definition TV. Let’s take a closer look at the different models available in the Z Series, starting with the most affordable unit.

The VAIO Z2 VPCZ212GX/B is powered by a dual-core 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor, which can be over-clocked to 2.9 GHz. It also features 4GB of RAM, two 64GB SSDs, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, a biometric fingerprint scanner, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and integrated Intel GMA HD 3000 graphics. Windows 7 Professional with Service Pack 1 (64-bit) comes preinstalled. The highly portable system is 13.0 inches wide by 0.66 of an inch high by 8.27 inches deep and it weighs 2.5 pounds.

If you want a little more power, check out the VAIO Z2 VPCZ214GX/B. Finished in black, this model features a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2620M processor, which can be over-clocked to 3.4 GHz, 4GB of RAM and two 64GB SSDs. You also get an external sheet battery that snaps onto the bottom of the notebook and provides up to 16 hours of run time. If you like the features of this notebook but prefer blue over black, check out the VAIO Z2 VPCZ214GX/L. It’s blue on the inside and black on the outside.

If you like what you see so far, but want more memory and more storage space, then consider the Sony Signature VAIO Z2 VPCZ21TGX/X. Finished in Premium Carbon Black, this beauty features 6GB of memory and two 128GB SSDs. It also comes with the external sheet battery that provides up to 16 hours of run time. The notebook weighs 2.6 pounds as is, or 3.7 pounds with the external battery attached.

The VAIO Z2 VPCZ21TGX/X doesn't include a built-in optical drive; in fact, none of the Z Series do. Instead, a desktop docking station called the Power Media Dock is included with this package. The docking station houses a Blu-ray ROM drive with CD and DVD burning along with an AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card with 1GB VRAM that will support up to three external HD displays. The docking station also features a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI output.

Two power adapters are included with the VAIO Z2 VPCZ21TGX/X so you can keep one in your briefcase (or leave it at work) and leave the other one at home attached to the docking station. When you’re at home you can enjoy all the benefits of a desktop system with up to three displays, a proper sound system, a big luxurious keyboard, and so on. When it’s time to travel you simply grab the 2.5-pound notebook out of the docking station and go. The external sheet battery included with the notebook will provide up to 16 hours of run time, so you might not even need the second power adapter, but it’s always nice to have in case you do need it.

Sony’s Z Series notebook computers are lightweight, powerful and loaded with features that make mobile computing more productive. If you have a taste for the finer things in life, then you should treat yourself to one of these mobile masterpieces today.