A few weeks ago I reviewed the first example of Sony’s new VAIO TZ range. The VAIO TZ11MN was the best ultra-portable notebook that I’d ever used, and it also benefitted from being reasonably priced by Sony’s standards. This time around I’m looking at the very top of the VAIO TZ range - the TZ12VN is significantly more expensive than its sibling, so the question is whether it’s worth that extra cash.
To be honest, this is the machine that I really wanted to look at, because this is the first Sony notebook to ship with a solid state hard drive, which goes a long way to explain the cost. For me, solid state drives and ultra-portable notebooks are the perfect match. In fact, my current notebook is just that – a Samsung Q40 with a 32GB solid state drive – and I’ve been more than happy to trade off capacity for lightning fast access times. But it’s not just the performance of solid state drives that make them a better option, they’re also infinitely more robust than traditional hard disks.
The important thing to remember about traditional hard disks is that they are mechanical devices, which means that there are any number of mechanical failures that can plague them. A solid state drive has no moving parts and is constructed entirely of flash memory chips, so no amount of bumping, bashing or general notebook abuse is going to affect your data – unlike on a traditional hard disk. You may have noticed over recent years that many notebook manufacturers have implemented G-force sensors in their machines, which lock the hard disk heads if they sense that the notebook has been dropped or knocked. Although that kind of safety feature is welcome in notebooks, with a solid state drive it’s simply not necessary, since there are no heads, so there is no fear of a head crash under impact.
Another big advantage for solid state drives is disk fragmentation, or rather a lack of it. With a traditional hard disk, as files are created and deleted, the space on the platters becomes fragmented, which means that larger files can be slotted into multiple spaces all over the platter. As a result, the disk heads have to travel all over the platters to access all the data necessary, but with a solid state drive it doesn’t matter how fragmented your data is, or where it’s stored, since every single area of every single chip is just as quick and easy to access as the next.