Sony VAIO VGN-Z11WN/B 13.1in Notebook - Sony VAIO VGN-Z11WN/B

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


So its feature laden, that much is obvious, but that would be glossing over one of the more important aspects of the Z Series: its design. It is here, as with most Sony laptops, where most of that high price tag goes. Simply put the Z Series is another design triumph. Despite featuring full-fat components and a six-cell battery it weighs only 1.48kg, making it several hundred grams lighter than the SZ it's replacing and that was no porker!

This is coupled with Sony's usual visual flair. On the outside it actually looks fairly demure thanks to a relatively durable graphite grey finish that's only interrupted by the usual VAIO lettering and 'Sony' in silver lettering at the top. Like so many notebooks these days the display is LED backlit and as consequence the screen is incredibly thin, just 5mm to be precise. This also means the screen is very flexible and though this is often misconstrued for flimsiness, it ought to be stressed that flexibility is actually a benefit when it comes to preventing damage to a screen.

This also helps make the machine as a whole relatively slim, though it doesn't quite qualify as "ultra-slim" like an Eee PC S101 does. At the front of its wedge shaped chassis the machine measures just 24.5mm thick, increasing to 33mm at its thickest point and even if this isn't "ultra-slim" it's still thin by comparative standards, more or less matching the dimensions of the similar Dell XPS M1330. And, of course, the Z Series is over 500 grams lighter, so it definitely has the edge there!

Inside the Z Series continues to impress. Below the screen sits the now familiar tubular hinge section, finished in silver with the power button on one end and the power input at the other. Along this section also sits a switch labelled 'Stamina' and 'Speed'. This allows you to switch between the discrete and integrated graphics, though the 'Stamina' mode actually does a lot more than this.

Switching to this mode automatically disables non-essential items, like the FireWire port and 56k modem while also throttling back the processor. You can also choose to reduce the screen refresh rate and colour depth and deactivate the optical drive, further enhancing the battery saving measures. All of this is handled quickly and effectively by Sony's power management software that makes it very easy to select exactly what measures you do or don't want to use. Using this mode we managed four and a half to five hours of basic word processing and web browsing, making it a particularly useful feature when on the move. Unlike previous iterations you also don't need to reboot between changes.

One area where the Z Series does lack somewhat, however, is in the audio department. Though it does at least offer stereo sound the two speakers, housed just above the keyboard on opposite ends, are very weak and tinny and only really sufficient for general operating system alerts and very basic audio services.


October 31, 2008, 7:24 pm

Also worth noticing is the fact that for the extra bit of price Sony always offers consistent and exceptional build quality across its laptop range over other manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo.

I've owned Dell laptops before, and the superiority in build quality and finish of my current Vaio is immediately tangible over anything Dell has ever made.


October 31, 2008, 8:32 pm

ThinkPad's are the Rolls Royce of the laptop world. Their build quality is nothing short of exceptional.


October 31, 2008, 9:29 pm

Thinkpads are not Lenovo's only laptop line, I agree the Thinkpads are nothing short of exceptional but their more consumer orientated notebooks aren't so well built.


November 1, 2008, 12:26 am

I love Sony's style when it comes to there niche end of the market of notebooks, so stylish. I'm just not sure what to get the Vaio Z or the Vaio TT, hurry Trustedreviews i need to hear your review of the TT before i decide :)


November 5, 2008, 2:54 pm

Seriously tempted to pull the trigger and buy this. Seems to be a great little product. Only thing that's making me think hard is the fact that I've been using ThinkPad's for the last 10/11 years and might find another laptop not meeting the high standards set by IBM that I've come to expect.

Is the Vaio quality really as good as people claim? And the keyboard looks a little odd, would it be a come down from a ThinkPad keyboard or is it really as good as this review suggests?

Andy Vandervell

November 5, 2008, 3:00 pm

Steve: Well if you're transferring from ThinkPad you might find the keyboard a bit unusual at first, but I definitely feel it's very good indeed. It might be worth you seeking out a demo unit to try one out. You might be able to find one at a Comet or PC World, or Tottenham Court Road if you live close enough to London.

As for build quality, they feel pretty good, though the lightness of the Z Series might seem like flimsiness - not a view I'd subscribe to. Not as good as ThinkPad's, but still pretty good. Again, go find one and judge for yourself really.


November 5, 2008, 4:19 pm

Thanks for the reply Andy :)


November 6, 2008, 4:17 pm

Ordered it this morning! Without seeing a demo unit! I live on the edge ;)

Andy Vandervell

November 6, 2008, 4:22 pm

Excellent stuff, that's the kind of attitude we like to see! Let us know how you get on.


November 13, 2008, 6:25 pm

I've had the machine for a few days now. Apart from an annoying error that I occasionally get on start-up ( ) the machine has been a joy to use.

The size & weight is exactly what I was after and it's fantastic to have so much power in such a small & light machine.

One of my fears was not adjusting to the keyboard and I'm happy to report that it hasn't been a problem at all. It's not quite up to ThinkPad standard, but it's very comfortable to use and each key has the perfect amount of travel.

The screen really is fantastic. It's the first WXGA++ panel I've used & the 1600x900 resolution ensures that my desktop will never be 'cramped'.

I really can't find much wrong with this notebook yet and I'm a fussy bugger to please. Hopefully the glitch on start-up will be resolved in some way although the Vaio forums haven't been particularly helpful in offering a fix. If I have one grumble it's not with the machine itself but the price of the accessories. A spare PSU is a wallet busting 䀁! Outrageous! On the plus side I managed to get a further two years warranty from Amazon for a very reasonable 㿲 (the Sony Store wanted double that amount).

So yes, I'm very pleased. I'll be ecstatic once I sort the start-up problem out.

Andy Vandervell

November 18, 2008, 6:10 pm

Well, Steve, I'm glad you're happy. Believe me it makes my job all the more enjoyable for it. :)

Mark Horton

November 18, 2008, 8:09 pm

I was looking for a laptop like this for months. I was so glad when I found this Vaio, Had it now for the last 3 months and it's the best thing I have every owned. Love it. HDMI out to my TV to watch TV programs, and films etc.

When I bought the laptop there wasn't an option for a Blu-ray drive, in some ways I wished I waited. Would have loved the option of watching Blu-ray on my TV, nevermind.

Well worth the money, and had a excellent service from Sony as well. With most things Sony nothings cheap but you get what you pay for. Do recommend the carry pouch from the Sony Style website product number is VGPCP15.AE which comes in at 㿊, expensive for what it is, but well worth it.


November 18, 2008, 9:10 pm


I'm very happy with it! Thanks! :)

@Mark Horton

I bought the carry pouch you mentioned, it's expensive but the laptop fits snugly inside and helps protect it, so it's 㿊 well spent.

Regarding the warranty length, the Sony website states 12 months, this review states 2 years. I assumed the Sony website would be accurate which is why I bought the extra 2 years cover giving me 3 years in total (about the lifespan of a notebook). After registering the extra two years it told me my support contract had been extended from 11-2011 until 11-2013! So the standard warranty of the machine is 3 years! Gah!


November 18, 2008, 9:47 pm

I would definitely get an extended warranty with any Sony laptop. In my (admittedly limited) experience the number I get in for repair is surpisingly high for a premium brand and the exorbitant price of spares makes a lot of them uneconomical to fix (though thats true of most makes).

Never see a Thinkpad.

Mark Horton

November 18, 2008, 11:41 pm


Agreed it is worth it, after all it's a � laptop your carrying around.


November 20, 2008, 8:59 am

Hello,I'm about to buy the Z series, but to my surprise , vaio has just released Z 26, Z 27, and the current z series (Z12 )is still available but not on display any more, any Idea or thoughts why vaio would replace and Already new released product that soon??I had came across 2 isolated complains in the show room, one regarding the fast drain battery, and the other one the hard desk but not sure what is it exactly, any advices guys?


November 20, 2008, 4:42 pm


The Z27 appears to be a model only available in Asia. The models available here are the Z11 & Z21. There's doesn't seem to be much difference, only that the Z21 has a 2.53GHz CPU and costs about 𧶲 extra. That's a lot of wonga for a minimal performance gain! I presume it will have a knock-on effect on battery performance too...

Link here:

Fouad Diouman

December 17, 2008, 2:52 pm

Hi TR and all writers, thanks for your valuable input. Sony did it again. This Z series is a jewel. I travel 10 times a year and have a heavy Thinkpad. Fast and robust but the keyboard is rubbery/crap, the screen will make me go blind and it weighs 3 kgs+ (on top of my cabin luggage) with its bag and adaptor. Even though I get it for free at work, I am going to buy the Vaio next spring with my own money for work. It is really worth it. I was not surprised by the positive review.

Business User 1

December 23, 2008, 7:55 pm

DO NOT BUY THIS NOTEBOOK if you need to use a docking station. It does not work with the docking station. My experience with Sony "support" was extremely disappointing. After many phone calls and countless hours on hold I gave up and returned the product. Sony initially refused to accept the return even though it was within the 30 day window. I am extremely dissatisfied.


December 26, 2008, 3:55 pm

Thanks for an excellent review Andy. I am in the market and choosing between this, the TT, Lenovo X200s/X300. Do you know if the hard drive in the Sony Z or TT are easily replaceable? I think in a year or so I might want to swap with a new fast SSD drive (& likely more affordable then) but on some of these 11/13" it is virtually impossible to get to the drive? (Lenovo is easily replaceable)

Lloyd 1

January 14, 2009, 7:40 pm

Hallo, I see the comment above about problems using this Sony Z notebook with a docking station - that it does not work. Can you/anyone else add more information? I am thinking of buying one with a docking station & am now nervous about it. Thanks.

Chris H

January 27, 2009, 10:38 pm

I've got the Z21 together with it's docking station. It does work, but it's a very disapointing docking station for such a good laptop. There's no power button, so you have to use the button on the laptop, which requires the lid to be lifted. The docking station won't show anything on an external monitor until the OS and display drivers have loaded. Even then you may have to log in and configure it to use the external monitor each time if you've booted the laptop undocked inbetween. These aren't major things, just annoying. Why couldn't Sony have put as much thought into the dock as they did into the laptop.


March 1, 2009, 2:25 am

Hi Andy. I've been dithering between a Sony Z and a Dell Latitude E4300... I'll need to use Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software with it, so I've two questions. Firstly, is there a lot of fan noise? And secondly, is the version of Vista 32 bit or 64 bit? (Dragon is not yet 64 bit compatible.) Any comments on the quality of sound recording would be appreciated.


March 10, 2009, 11:24 am


This is a small amount of fan noise when the laptop requires cooling (the CPU kicks out a surprising amount of heat), but it's not a noisy fan although I had expected it to be quieter than it is.

Basically, it's no better or worse than most notebooks when it comes to fan noise.


March 10, 2009, 7:59 pm

Hi Folks and hi to Trusted Reviews folks in particular. You have a great site! Anyway, I'm thinking of buying this. I've got a few concerns. 1) First, the start-up glitch Steve reported--Steve, is that still a problem? 2) Also, I've read some posts elsewhere about the Z battery draining even a decent amount when it's not in use for just a day. Anyone had a problem with this? 3) Any further impressions re the Z's docking station or Sony's customer service? FWIW, I'm also thinking about the Lenovo X301, so would welcome any comparisons people care to offer. Finally, and this is a strange question I admit, does anyone have trouble fitting a laptop this size into safes in hotel rooms? I travel a fair amount for work and it seems that sometimes my current 12.1" just makes it into those safes. Thanks for any info or advice.

comments powered by Disqus