CNET First Look
Sony Vaio Z216GXSony's high-end Z series laptop lives up to its luxury reputation, with a slim, lightweight body, plenty of processing power, and a highly specialized GPU dock.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here taking a look at the new Sony Vaio Z. Now, the Vaio Z has always been Sony's super high-end laptop line. This new version is no exception. It actually starts at about $2000 and goes up from there. Our particular unit came in at about 2750, although that does pack in a lot of upgrades and extras. One of the reasons the new Vaio Z is so expensive is that even the entry level version includes this special docking station that includes not just an optical drive, in our case Blue-Ray but you can also downgrade to a regular DVD drive and a bunch of ports and connections. It also includes an AMD graphics card that works with the laptop just as if you had a built-in discrete GPU that is something, they always seem, a handful of times in sort of more experimental systems this is probably the most mainstream version of that concept that we've seen. Now, this docking station which again comes with every Vaio Z connects via a proprietary cable that plugs into the power port and the USB 3.0 port on the laptop itself. So you'll lose that USB 3 connection there, it goes to the docking station which has its own USB 3 so you do make up for the one that you miss. It actually uses a version of Intel's Light Peak technology which is the same thing as a Thunderbolt port found on new Macbook Pros, although it's not the same kind of connector. It's this combo power and USB 3.0 plug on this side that thing just goes directly into the dock. A lot of other high-end features here on the Vaio Z. Ours has a 1920 by 1080 display, this full 1080p display on a 13-inch laptop that is very unusual. You can actually downgrade the display to a 16 by 9 which actually might make more sense. Texts can get very small. It's such a high resolution on such a small screen. And this is one of those super thin carbon fiber laptops, very light but very sturdy. Because it's so thin, the keyboard, the standard Sony style Chiclet keyboard, it's a little bit shallow actually. It's not impossible to type on but it's not our favorite. We did like the touch pad however. It's got a very nice texture to it that really gives you some good tactile feedback. It's got the separate left and right mouse buttons, not these sort of more click pad style pads that you see on a lot of the more upscale laptops these days. So we tested the Vaio Z playing some games both with the integrated graphics built in to the laptop, their Intel ones and with the external GPU which does need to be plugged in to a power source in order to use it and it worked just about as well as a midlevel graphics card would in your laptop. We got very decent frame rates on some modern games. It's a really cool idea. We also got pretty good battery life, about 4-1/2 hours just for the laptop but you can also, for 150 bucks, get this optional slice battery. See, it's very thin. It just sits under the laptop, covers the entire bottom base and when we have the slice on, the laptop actually ran for more than 10 hours on our very challenging battery drain test which means you'd probably do even better just with casual, you know, web surfing, e-mailing, things like that. The Vaio Z is a great looking, great feeling piece of hardware but it's painfully expensive. Again, it starts at $2000, just goes from there. That means you're unfortunately not likely to see too many of these in a coffee shop or a college campus. They're really more the kind of laptop we refer to as sort of a CEO laptop, an executive toy for someone who can afford it. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the new Sony Vaio Z.