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Sony VAIO Z Series (VPC-Z11Z9E/B) – 13.1in Laptop Review

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £2399.00

Best Portable Laptop(/centre)

Sony has never been afraid
to challenge the conventions of mobile computing. Sometimes this leads it down silly blind alleys, but in the VAIO Z Series its boldness is well-founded. A 13.1in laptop, it weighs just 1.43kg, has enough processing power to go toe-to-toe with any desktop replacement laptop and should last more than a few hours on a single charge. It is, in other words, a genuine mobile workstation.

Unsurprisingly, such delights don’t come cheap. Even in its cheapest guise, which dispenses with the integrated optical drive, it’ll set you back a cool £1,350. Our particular review spec, however, costs an eye-watering £2,399! This is clearly a massive amount to ask for any kind of machine, but a quick look at the spec list explains this astronomic price.

Kicking things off is the Intel Core i7-620M processor, the two cores of which run at 2.66GHz and share a 4MB Cache. Like all Core i5 and i7 chips it has Intel’s Turbo Boost technology, which in this case means it can run at up to a massive 3.33GHz should the need arise. This is the fastest dual-core mobile chip Intel currently has, and it’s supported by a whopping 6GB of DDR3 RAM and two 128GB SSDs (total 256GB) configured in RAID 0 for maximum performance.

This isn’t the end of the extravagances, though. While the default display is a 13.1in, 1,600 x 900 panel, our model has a 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution screen. Throw in other expensive extras, such as an HSDPA modem to go with the Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, or the fingerprint reader and TPM (Trusted Platform Module) for enhanced security, and the Z Series comes packed with every conceivable feature possible.

There’s more, too, as one of the key features of the Z Series is switchable graphics. This means it can cycle between the powerful 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 330M dedicated graphics, and the power-saving Intel integrated chip. This, so reckons Sony, should result in up to 7.5 hours of battery life – something we’ll be testing later on.

Unfortunately, like the Alienware M11x we reviewed recently, Sony has yet to implement Nvidia’s Optimus graphics switching tech, but its solution is fairly elegant. Instead Sony has created a three-way switch, labelled somewhat laboriously as the “Dynamic Hybrid Graphics System”, which has the self-evident options of Speed, Stamina and Auto. Leaving it in auto mode should suffice for most people; it simply switches to the integrated graphics when on battery and vice-versa when plugged-in.

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