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Sony Vaio Z review: First Look

We take a sneak peek at the new Sony Vaio Z ultraportable laptop which is unbelievably light and makes clever use of Intel's Light Peak technology.

Sony's decision to eschew the standard Thunderbolt port doesn't help the prospects of the new technology catching on.

Despite its incredibly thin and light design, the Vaio Z has a full-strength 2.70GHz Intel Core i7-2620M processor rather than a slower, ultra low voltage version although a slower Core i5 variant will also be available. The i7-equipped model will come equipped with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The latter helps explain the slender build and can be replaced with a larger 512GB model when ordering, albeit at an eye-watering cost of an extra 1,170.

The 13.3in screen has a high resolution of 1,600x900 pixels which will be handy for working on large spreadsheets or programs with lots of windows. There will be the option to boost this to a full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, although we have concerns about how legible this will be. The 16:9 aspect ratio means the screen is quite wide making the entire laptop feel quite wide, although in reality it's really no more unwieldy than any other widescreen laptop.

The hinge of the Sony Vaio Z props up the laptop at a slight angle which could make typing easier for some.

The hinge of the Sony Vaio Z props up the laptop at a slight angle which could make typing easier for some.

The keyboard is large and although it doesn't have quite as much feedback or travel as we would like, it felt comfortable enough during our brief hands-on. It's backlit too for working in dark conditions. The touchpad follows the example of Apple and Lenovo with buttons built into the pad itself. The touchpad felt accurate, although we'll have to give it more thorough testing before we can say how comfortable the built-in buttons are. A fingerprint reader sits just below the touchpad.

We're concerned that the slim chassis doesn't leave enough room for a high capacity battery, but an external battery that attached to the bottom of the Vaio Z will be available for an extra 60. It only adds an extra 600g of weight to the laptop giving a total weight of 1.8kg which is still light.

So what are our first impressions?

Verdict

The Vaio Z is an impressive looking laptop which makes clever use of Intel Light Peak, but we have our concerns over both battery life and whether Sony's odd implementation of Thunderbolt will help doom the technology. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we can.

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