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Executive class

The new Vaio Z has the typical good looks of a Sony laptop and is just as powerful as a desktop PC, making it perfect for business users.

tech reviews Updated: May 04, 2010 18:34 IST
Dushyant Khilnani

Laptop Review: Sony Vaio-Z 117 ultra-portable laptop

The combination of powerful hardware, light-weight design, excellent performance and cool looks is something you can’t expect from ultra-portable laptops. But the Sony Vaio Z is here to break that notion. It is not only stylish but also as powerful as a desktop PC. Just its core hardware will blow you away.

Design
Sony laptops are known for their style and finesse, and the Vaio Z follows that trail. Despite its slimness, it sports a minimalist design with a good build quality. The screen is thin, but the hinges take care of stability. Also, the unit is
slightly over an inch in thickness, but the use of metal makes it sturdy and gives it a slick look.

The lid is black and the chassis is made of dark grey aluminum with a slightly brushed finish. Even the wrist rest, touchpad and mouse buttons are matte. The chiclet keyboard has well-spaced, well-sized keys, and at 1.37 kg, the laptop conveniently slides into your rucksack.

Features
It’s the phenomenal hardware that distinguishes this laptop from others. Built around the Intel HM77 chipset, the Vaio Z is powered by the Intel Core i7 M620 processor, which is a dual-core variant, clocked at 2.67 MHz. There is a whopping 8 GB DDR3 RAM and four SSDs (in raid) of 64 GB each (total 250 GB usable space). The laptop, equipped with a discreet Nvidia GeForce GT330M GPU and a full-HD 13.1-inch screen (1920 x 1080), is also good for HD movies and gaming.

There’s a three-way hardware switch above the keyboard that lets you toggle between the onboard Intel graphics and the discreet Nvidia graphics. You can make the switch manually or you can set to ‘automatic’, where the laptop switches to onboard graphics when unplugged from the mains.

This laptop even features a fingerprint scanner between the mouse buttons, making it apt for business users. The keyboard is backlit, so you don’t have to worry about an external light source in the dark. There are 3 USB ports, an HDMI and a VGA port, 2 memory-card readers, audio jacks, a physical switch for wireless connectivity, a webcam, a DVD-writer and a Kensington lock slot.

Connectivity options include WiFi N, gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth, and the unit ships pre-loaded with Windows 7 Professional (64 bit).

Performance
Thanks to the processor, surplus main memory and the presence of solid-state drives (SSDs), you can seamlessly run designing suites, encode audio, and edit video.

Even gaming is possible at medium resolutions and settings. We ran Crysis in Performance mode at 1680 x 1050, and the laptop delivered 38.5 fps, which is phenomenal for a laptop of this form. The discreet GPU and full HD screen make playing games and watching movies amazing. The 13.1–inch screen has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, making the display really good.

The default text size in the default native resolution is small. We weren’t impressed with the sound; the volume was almost below audible range. The battery is a let down, at three hours 37 minutes backup under medium load.