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Sony VAIO Z Series (VPC-Z11Z9E/B) - 13.1in Laptop - Connectivity, Design & Build Quality
In comparison to the hardware specs, the connectivity on the Z Series is somewhat mundane. There are just three USB ports, none of which offer eSATA or standby charging; HDMI and VGA for video; a couple of memory card slots (one for SD cards, one for Sony's own formats); and a Gigabit Ethernet port. A 34mm ExpressCard slot is included as well, but these days we can't imagine many people using it.
Neither is the Z Series a particularly outlandish object to behold. Sony has gone for an understated, professional look that has plenty of style, but is ultimately tailored for practicality. A black, matt plastic lid, while extremely thin, won't collect unseemly fingerprints and grease; neither will the gunmetal-grey, brushed metal interior.
What's more impressive about the design, though, is the weight. Despite including some seriously heavyweight hardware, including a standard 8x DVD drive, dedicated graphics and a six-cell battery, the Z Series weighs just 1.43kg! Many netbooks, with their puny Atom processors and small screens, weigh more than this. It's a truly incredible feat.
Clearly Sony's use of lightweight materials, such as aluminium and carbon fibre, has a large part to play in this. There's compromise to be found, though, because the Z Series doesn't have that feeling of solidity and reliability you might find in the likes of Lenovo's ThinkPad range.
This isn't to say it's poorly made, the fit and finish is generally excellent, but elements like the thin plastic underside bend noticeably under pressure. Many will be alarmed by the amount of flex in the screen as well, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing as flexibility brings with it a degree of give during an impact, plus there's no creaking in evidence - the sort you get with more rigid, badly fitted plastics that typically crack over time. Overall, provided you treat it well you shouldn't run into any problems.