As you might expect for a machine of this pedigree performance is very strong. In PC Mark Vantage it performs consistently well, particularly in the Memories suite where its fast DDR3 memory comes into play. We did notice, however, that the hard drive score was lower than we would normally expect, perhaps justifying our complaint that the machine ought to ship with a 7,200rpm drive.
This fact was also reflected in our in-house image editing test where the Sony trailed the Samsung Q310 and Dell Vostro 1310 despite its otherwise superior components. A dramatic reversal of fortunes in our CPU limited video encoding test verified this view further. Still, none of this should detract from the fact this is still a very fast machine and this slight deficiency is unlikely to affect day-to-day usage.
It's also a machine that'll stand up to light gaming duties. In our Trackmania Nations Forever benchmark it managed a very playable 33.7 frames per second on medium settings. This at 1,600 x 900 is pretty impressive and the high resolution screen's excellent colour production made the game look magnificent, with rich colours, smooth motion and subtle dark shades - something you'll quickly appreciate in high definition video, too.
As we noted earlier you can achieve up to five hours of battery life using the 'Stamina' mode, but for our testing we used standard settings running on the integrated graphics. Here the Z11WN/B managed decent results, lasting three hours and forty minutes of multitasking and an hour and a half of DVD playback at 100 per cent brightness. These results, however, don't quite match those managed by the Samsung Q310 and are comfortably bested by the Dell Vostro 1310. But these results should be viewed in light of the Sony's significantly lower overall weight, something that's achieved through a slightly lower capacity battery.
And this is the overriding impression left by the Series Z. Perfect it isn't - few notebooks are - but that Sony has managed to create such a powerful machine that weighs less than 1.5 kilos is nothing short of remarkable. We've known ultra-portables that weigh as much as this and they couldn't boast the processing power this machine does. Were one being hypercritical some of the underside of the notebook feels a little under-protected and we'd like a little more variety in the connection stakes, but past this one can have few complaints.
As a portable notebook for the power user we can think of little better than the Sony VAIO Series Z. It delivers prodigious processing power and very good battery life in a machine that's exceedingly portable and very useable thanks to its sumptuous high resolution display and wonderfully tactile keyboard. Like most VAIO machines it is pricey, but if you're a demanding user then the price is well worth it.