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Sony Unveils World's Most Powerful Ultra Portable Laptop

Gordon Kelly


Sony Unveils World's Most Powerful Ultra Portable Laptop

Thin and light = performance compromise, right? Wrong...

Sony has just blown us out the water today with the announcement of its new Vaio Z series. Now carved from a single slab of aluminium, the spruced up line brings a tear to the eye courtesy of a new Core i7-620M heart and up to 256GB of 'Quad SSD' storage - aka four SSDs strapped together in RAID 0 array to write data in parallel. Sony says this setup will operate up to 6.2x faster than a 5,400rpm HDD, though we'd have liked some raw specs to back it up.

On top of this you'll find the Z series packing 13.1in LED backlit 16:9 displays with resolutions available up to an eye watering 1920 x 1080 pixels (Full HD), plus a beefed up Nvidia GeForce GT 330M GPU with 1GB of dedicated memory. To save battery life this can manually or automatically switch to integrated Intel HD graphics.

Elsewhere there is up to 6GB DDR3 RAM, wireless N, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, a Motion Eye webcam, HDMI, fingerprint reader and integrated DVD optical drive. Omissions? Sony doesn't say if there is a memory card reader and a Blu-ray drive option would've been nice, while there is no mention as to how long the Z series will last on a full charge or how much this will all cost (hint: a lot). We've posed all these questions to Sony so hopefully there will be a response soon.

Still, as long as the answers aren't terrible, we're sold on the 314 x 210 x 23.8-32.7mm form factor and 1.43Kg weight (incl. battery). It may be time to take out a (very large) bank loan...


Press Release


January 19, 2010, 6:15 pm

Powerful hardware + low weight = bad battery runtime. I doubt Sony can avoid that, at any price. The CPU does not even seem to be a (U)LV variant, although it's a mobile CPU.


January 19, 2010, 6:31 pm

@plus a beefed up Nvidia GeForce GT 330M GPU with 1GB of dedicated memory. To save battery life this can manually or automatically switch to integrated Intel HD graphics

This is the bit I wish Nvidia could sort out, even on Desktop PC's. If your doing normal 2d desktop work it would be nice if NV dropped the number of streams processors down, reduced the texture memory, underclock etc etc, to get down the power requirements, having to have another graphics card seems a bit of a kludge. Unfortunately NVidia & ATI are on such a Polygon fill count war it's way down on there todo list.


January 19, 2010, 6:42 pm

This was at CES this year. I think the battery life shouldn't be that poor with the intelligent hybrid graphics. Asus are putting this solution into a few of their ultra portables like the UL80 but without the SSD's and the core i7. Expect this the cost about £2500 if your lucky - look at the original vaio z. Easily £3000 with two SSD's and no core i 7 a month ago.

Gareth 4

January 19, 2010, 6:44 pm

If it has say, a VAIO TZ's battery life, i'd be tempted to pay a TZ price, £1500-£2000. If it goes further than £2500 then i doubt many people will buy it at all.


January 19, 2010, 6:47 pm

Battery life probably won't be amazing but it should be well over four hours, which is enough for most.

@Keith: That's not really the problem. What you're suggesting simply isn't possible. That is to say, even if they tried really hard to cut down everything when in low power mode, it would still use more power than the Intel solution. At least that's the logic.


January 19, 2010, 6:50 pm

holy cow... i hope that the cpu and gpu are standard kit, and not a configurable option.


January 19, 2010, 7:04 pm

Looks like the almost perfect replacement for my Sony SZ2, which also uses two GPU's. However the new Alienware M11x has just been announced with the same two GPU's and will do the lightweight portable gaming laptop thing for much less money I reckon - this will be the perfect replacement!


January 19, 2010, 8:19 pm

Wow, looks the business.

@Keith: Apparently idle power in the latest Nv mobile gen is very good and it will be used in the desktop gen as well...

I really wish Sony had the marketing power of Apple as this looks better than all of the crap they come out with, but won't get anywhere near the recognition of the latest iCrap...

Ala Miah

January 19, 2010, 8:37 pm

Wow, that is some serious kick ass laptop right there. Think I would need to save 2-3 months wages without any spend to even think of affording it.

Luckily i just bought the Acer 18010TZ, not as fancy as Sony's but it's a great little laptop. Does the job I need for a price I can afford.


January 19, 2010, 10:50 pm

Sony Vaios have pretty poor build quality compared to Panasonic Let's Note models. Secondly this isn't an ultra-portable: it's a 13 inch screen laptop weighing 1.43kg.

700g in 10.1 inch factor is ultra portable and NEC has such a solution, it's not Core i7 but it can withstand 150kg weight ('pressure') and a drop of 78cm. That's ultra portable.


January 20, 2010, 1:54 am

That is a stupidly good laptop - and I really do mean stupidly! Those specs would be great for gaming, and brilliant for video and photo editing - none of which I'd ever want to do on a 13" screen. Waaaay too much power for most purposes I can think of, and therefore it will be unnecessarily expensive. Surely what this is, is a penis extension (for Sony as well as the buyer). It's ridiculous.

... And yes, of course I want one. Right now. :P

Peter 20

January 20, 2010, 2:25 am

Anyone wants to bet what the price tag will be? Given that it's a SONY I say it's safe to start the betting at $3000.


January 20, 2010, 3:15 am

@Retset: As far as I can see Dell have carefully avoided giving any impression that the M11x is light, they've only played up it's size. I wouldn't be surprised if it was 2.5kg+


January 20, 2010, 3:27 am

As an existing Z series owner, I am very happy with my machine. The new Z doesn't offer enough to make me want to upgrade as my Z11WN/B is still one of the best machines money can buy.

I am glad that Sony will still offer a 1600x900 res screen though! I have excellent eye sight but 1600x900 is bordering on the limit as I often have to give text a second glance as it can be quite small. I can't imagine how things will look at 1920 x 1080 on a 13.1" screen! It seems a step too far IMO...


January 20, 2010, 4:24 am

Usb 3.0?


January 20, 2010, 2:54 pm

This could be the perfect portable CAD workstation for me, tiny little form factor with an excellent CPU and GPU. I know that it won't be ISV certified OpenGL graphics but I'm sure that it's going to run Pro/E and SolidWorks without any problems and that would be good enough for me.


January 21, 2010, 3:42 am

Sony have missed a trick here - the combination of power, light weight and LOW COST would be unbeatable. I bet this would cost at least twice the price of something that is 10% heavier or less powerful.

With technology moving at such a rapid pace, this will almost definately be superseeded within 6 months - so if the price is high, it simply cannot be ignored.


January 21, 2010, 12:55 pm

@ Prem

The previous Z series had a lifespan of 18 months with around 5 spec updates over the course of that period. It's also a premium product, so it's not meant to be cheap. It's made from expensive materials like carbon fiber which make it strong and very light.

I paid around £1600 for my Z and it's money well spent because the laptop is (in my opinion and the opinion of many others) to be the best on the market.


January 21, 2010, 7:23 pm

This seems to me like some sort of answer to the unibody MBP. As (possibly) such I wonder if it comes with a controller for the battery as a coy trump up its sleeve. Apple may have stolen a march on the rest by being the first manufacturer to release laptops sporting battery controllers but I refuse to believe that the technology is beyond the ken of some other manufacturers, least of all Sony with its behemoth battery arm. It would be about bloody time. The cynic in me reckons that manufacturers have been playing a game of brinksmanship in stringing out the replaceable battery cash-cow for as long as possible : why the virtually the non-existent publicising of basic battery care (drain before you charge)? I've only ever seen that information tucked away in manuals I can count on one hand - mostly Sony, interestingly enough. Oh well its just a theory. I hope I'm right.


January 23, 2010, 6:35 pm

Buying a first class Sony notebook/laptop means in the first place that you can afford it. Sad to say, but much of the (preliminary) discussion above shows that some of you are not sophisticated enough to appreciate these engineering wonders (style, speed, idiosyncrasies). Of course all people want to buy let's say a Lamborghini Murcielago, but the moment it's price drops below that of an every day car, the sight of thousands of LM's in the street soon will annoy us.

By the way: I do agree with Hedgeporker on the battery-issue: this is not to joke about.


January 23, 2010, 8:24 pm

Sony does wonderful engineering, the battery life/reliability on their products has never been good. Look how many recalls they've had!


January 27, 2010, 1:06 am

Yes, I have gone through this battery problem. It has not been solved yet ... And after having contacted the helpdesk of Sony I discovered that their answers could be found on several fora on this issue going back some months before my questions! Needless to say that my admiration for their products went down by 30 points on a scale of 100.

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