The Good An upscale 13-inch laptop to give even the MacBook Air a run for its money, Sony's Vaio Z is fast, slim, and light, and includes a docking station with an optical drive and discrete graphics.
The Bad Even though this updated version of the Vaio Z is less expensive than the previous model we reviewed, it's still a premium-priced laptop. We'd almost rather skip the GPU dock and hit a more ultrabook-style price.
The Bottom Line With slim 13-inch SSD laptops now well under $1,000, Sony's expensive, high-end Z series laptop is a tough sell, although the long-life slice battery and unique GPU/optical dock help make its case.
Sony VAIO Z
Still the highest-end of Sony's Vaio laptops (after all, nothing comes after Z in the alphabet), the Z-series is a rare animal these days. It's a PC that starts close to $2,000 and goes up from there.
When the current iteration of the Vaio Z was, it was an impressive ultrathin 13-inch laptop, along the lines of the MacBook Air or Samsung Series 9. It outdid those machines by adding a separate docking station that included a few extra ports and connections, as well as an optical drive (upgradable to Blu-ray), and an AMD Radeon GPU.
But in the months since then, the perception of what a slim 13-inch laptop should do, and what it should cost, have changed. The current wave of ultrabooks (laptops that meet Intel's checklist for using that trademarked name) are just as thin, with 13-inch screens, current Core i5 processors, and SSD hard drives. The biggest difference is that ultrabooks start at $799, and few creep past the $1,000 mark, while the Vaio Z starts at $1,649 and can go past $3,000. This review unit came in at $1,999.
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