IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Reviews

Sony Vaio Z (2011) VPCZ21M9E review

Sony's latest ultraportable laptop is a real looker thanks to its incredibly thin and light design as well as its unique use of Intel's Light Peak technology. Alan Lu weighs up its slender build and high price in our review.

Price
£1,599

Sony is well known for its bold but expensive ultraportable laptop designs and the company's latest model is no exception. The new Vaio Z catches the eye immediately thanks to its sleek, sharp-edged black carbon fibre body and incredibly slender design at its thickest point it's just 17mm. It's also incredibly light too at just 1.2kg which is around the same weight as many netbooks.

The 2011 Sony Vaio Z as viewed from the side showing off its slender design. Note how the hinge props up the keyboard at an a

The 2011 Sony Vaio Z as viewed from the side showing off its slender design. Note how the hinge props up the keyboard at an angle.

Body builder

We have our concerns about the robustness of the super slim design though. The carbon fibre body flexes under pressure far more than we would like which is all the more surprising given Sony's high asking price. We wouldn't want to drop it, but if we do then at least there's no fragile hard disk to worry about the 128GB SSD should come through unscathed. One neat design touch is the hinge. When opened up, the hinge props up the keyboard slightly which can make typing more comfortable for some.

ITPRO Recommended award

The Vaio Z is no weakling when it comes to applications performance though. Sony has managed to squeeze in a full-strength 2.3GHz Core i5 2410M processor, rather than a slower but more power efficient ultra low voltage processor, along with 4GB of RAM into the remarkably thin chassis. This means that the Vaio Z is remarkably fast for an ultraportable laptop scoring 54 points overall in our demanding Windows applications tests. An extra 4GB of RAM can only be added when ordering since the Vaio Z is sealed, preventing access to the interior for upgrades and replacing the battery - an increasingly common sight in thin and light laptops.

The disadvantage of the fast processor in such a slender chassis is that the underside of the Vaio Z can become incredibly hot when it's churning through demanding tasks so much so that you won't want to use it on your lap. To be fair this is true of many other laptops, but especially so in this case. When using Office apps and web browsing the Vaio Z runs cool enough for lap use and without the loud cooling fans ramping up to unbearable levels.

We had our concerns that the Vaio Z's battery life would be meagre at best, so we were surprised when it managed to last a lengthy eight hours and 47 minutes in our light usage web browsing test. This is long enough to last a transatlantic flight or a normal work day, but if this isn't long enough it's possible to extend this by attaching an external battery to a dedicated underside port. This does cost an extra 60 though, increases the thickness and boosts the weight to around 1.8kg although this is still light.

Featured Resources

What 2023 will mean for the industry

What do most IT decision makers really think will be the important trends and challenges in the coming year?

Free Download

2022 Magic quadrant for Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM is evolving into a security platform with multiple features and deployment models

Free Download

IDC MarketScape: Worldwide unified endpoint management services

2022 vendor assessment

Free Download

Magic quadrant for application performance monitoring and observability

Enabling continuous updating of diverse & dynamic application environments

View Now

Recommended

Intel pitches new 4th Gen Xeon chips as its "most sustainable" data centre processors
data centres

Intel pitches new 4th Gen Xeon chips as its "most sustainable" data centre processors

11 Jan 2023
Apple issues patch for macOS security bypass vulnerability
Security

Apple issues patch for macOS security bypass vulnerability

20 Dec 2022
Apple issues fix for ‘actively exploited’ WebKit zero-day vulnerability
Security

Apple issues fix for ‘actively exploited’ WebKit zero-day vulnerability

14 Dec 2022
Apple steps up user security with end-to-end encryption for iCloud
encryption

Apple steps up user security with end-to-end encryption for iCloud

8 Dec 2022

Most Popular

GTA V vulnerability exposes PC users to partial remote code execution attacks
vulnerability

GTA V vulnerability exposes PC users to partial remote code execution attacks

23 Jan 2023
Dutch hacker steals data from virtually entire population of Austria
data breaches

Dutch hacker steals data from virtually entire population of Austria

26 Jan 2023
European partners expect growth this year, here are three ways they will achieve it
Sponsored

European partners expect growth this year, here are three ways they will achieve it

17 Jan 2023