Sony VPCZ1 Review

sony vaio z seriesRecently I purchased a Sony VAIO laptop and after having it for nearly two months, I have to say, it’s by far the best laptop I’ve owned to date (previous ones included the older VAIO Z series, HP, Toshiba, Fujitsu, LG). I purchased mine online (www.sony.es) and you can customize it to your exact needs. Prices start at 1.500 Euros up to 5.000 Euros (512GB SSD + Blu-Ray recorder, etc.). I went for the modest option of the lower end processor and regular SATA HDD (7400 rpm).

 

Screen

The screen is extremely bright and of amazing quality. It’s 13.1 inches with a resolution of 1600 x 900. There’s an option for 1920 x 900 although it adds around 150 Euros to the price. I’ve got the former and it’s more than enough space. It’s also small enough to work comfortably on the plane.  It also comes with a Hybrid Graphic System, controlled by an external button, allowing you to switch from external to internal graphics to save on battery life.

Speed

Overall I get very good performance out of if. I purchased the lower end CPU, which is the i5 2.40 Ghz and despite that, I’m very pleased. I do quite a bit of video rendering, recording, etc and it behaves! I did however go for 8GB of RAM (which only cost 80 Euros more, over the default 4GB). I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit.

Touchpad

Nothing out of the ordinary. The mouse keys a little on the tough side. The fingerprint reader is located between both buttons and on the whole works well, although I’m glad that you can still type in a password in those rare cases it doesn’t like your fingers.

 

Keyboard

The touch and layout of the keyboard is amazing. The spacing between keys is more than sufficient for comfortable typing despite the overall small size of the laptop. The cursor keys are conveniently located and the corresponding PgUp, PgDwn are function keys on the cursors, making navigation very smooth. Insert and Delete keys are also positioned in an adequate location (looking at you Toshiba!). I also went with the optional backlight which allows me to work nicely in darker environments (uses sensor to detect light). As with many laptops, it comes with a couple of VAIO specific buttons (Support, Care, etc. which I hardly use).

Battery life

I went with the extended battery which supposedly gives me around 10 hours of battery life in Stamina mode (there are three modes: Automatic, Speed and Stamina, controlled by an external button). Have I ever managed to get 10 hours of battery life out of it? Keep on dreaming. I’ve got about 5-6 hours on Auto mode which to be honest is not bad at all. Initially I was concerned about the extra battery since the web site does indicate that it sticks out. Now if you’ve seen the Lenovo’s you know that usually means a bad case of hemorrhoids. However, Sony have been clever here in that they’ve designed the battery to act as a leaver. Instead of sticking out from the back, it sticks out from underneath. This provides two benefits: it raises the laptop a bit, which usually people like their keyboards raised, and by lifting the laptop from the table, it provides more room for air circulation, keeping it running cooler in general.

Weight and Size

Extremely light. Specs indicate 1.4Kg. The extra battery adds a bit more weight to it, but overall, very light. And in all in all quite compact. As I mentioned previously, can work perfectly in a plane with it.

Heat

One of my main concerns with laptops is heat. Unfortunately the heat normally is dissipated where you rest the palms of your hands (left and right of the touchpad) or on the keyboard. In this case, the area around the touchpad is completely cool. You can detect a bit of heat on the left side of they keyboard (near the QWERTY keys) when working with it extensively. However, nothing out of the ordinary (looking at you Fujitsu and HP).

External inputs and other features

Other features it includes which come in very handy:

  • SD Card Reader
  • Sony MS and HG Duo
  • Built-in Motion Eye Camera
  • Built-in Microphone/Speaker and external jacks in front of the keyboard
  • External button for switching off WiFi/Bluetooth
  • VGA and HMDI output
  • 3 USB ports (you can pick 2 + 1 iLink)
  • Network port
  • Optionally WAN (I didn’t go for that option)

Case and Design

The outer case comes in various colors and material. I went for the black Carbon and it looks quite nice. They have platinum, etc. As for the overall design, sorry Apple fan boys, new kid in town.

Support

 

I purchased the laptop with the default OS because like many, I prefer to clean it down and re-install. Being a newer model, I was “pleasantly” surprised to find that none of the drivers for my exact model where available on the site. I called Sony support expecting to be brushed off and instead I received extremely good support. They were very attentive to my issue and every email I sent was replied to in under 24 hours. Fortunately I found drivers from similar models and got it all configured and apparently my drivers should now be available on the web (although I’ve not checked yet). All in all though, very happy with the service I’ve received so far. Extremely helpful and pleasant to deal with.

Summary

To be honest there are very few things I don’t like about the laptop. I didn’t appreciate much the fact that they’d sold me something without the drivers being ready for download, but I worked around that as I mentioned. About the only thing I don’t like are the speakers. The volume is not very high. Even at full-blast it’s something like 40% of my previous LG laptop. The headphones have the same levels. Plugging in external amp solves it though. Other than the speaker level though, there’s not much more I could say negatively about the laptop.

As I said earlier, out of all the laptops I’ve owned (I’ve been working exclusively on laptops for the past 10 years more or less), this is by far my best purchase. It’s extremly lightweight, powerful and feature rich. Considering the price I paid for it, it’s well worth the investment. I highly recommend it.

4 thoughts on “Sony VPCZ1 Review

  1. a s

    My wife has dropped it twice.
    2nd time was on a wooden floor from 4 feet.
    The frame did came off the screen- but it could be clipped back easilty.
    The screen hinge became slightly loose.

    But it still works fine.
    A beautiful machine.

    Most remarkable things I needed : bright enough screen to be useful by a sunny window. Backlit keyboard. Light.

    Reply
  2. Theo

    I have this note book right now
    Its is really great! the weight, the peromance
    I can play all new games on it with 1920×1080 resolution!
    The screen is a very good part of it

    Reply
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  4. Giacomo Novara

    My laptop from 3 years now. Very good, satisfied. Audio section is the only weak thing. System very stable. I have been thinking to the update but the price of new Vaio Z, as well as the strange design and the new Windows 8, may lead me to MacBook Pro

    Reply

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