Sony Vaio Z Series 2011 Review Roundup: New MacBook Air Vies

It was only at the end of June that we brought you news of the Sony Vaio Z series laptop using its own version of Intel’s Light Peak technology, known on Apple products as Thunderbolt. More recently we told how the Vaio Z was now available for purchase and how it could rival the Apple MacBook Air as the Vaio Z is also an ultraslim and impressive device. Now we wanted to take a look at what the experts think and thought we’d give you a Vaio Z Series review roundup.

We should start by saying the Vaio Z series is not cheap and it’s a premium price for what appears to be a premium laptop, starting at around $2,000. As far as specs go they’re pretty notable. As a brief recap the Vaio Z comes with new Core i5 or Core i7 processors, has from 4GB of RAM and 128GB Solid State Drive. You can configure upwards with a wireless modem and up to 512GB SSD and an optional Power Media Dock, which uses the Light Peak technology for up to four times the dedicated video RAM of the MacBook Air. At this point we must tell you though that the 2011 refresh for the MacBook Air should be released any day now and so specs for the Air will certainly be increased then.

So let’s see what the verdicts of the people in the know were. The first review we came to was by Joanna Stern over on This is My Next who rated the Vaio Z as 8 out of 10, so pretty good. This is an extremely comprehensive review that looked at aspects including the look and feel, keyboard and touchpad, display and speakers, performance, graphics and Power Media Dock and software.

In conclusion Stern notes that the “Z of 2011 is a masterpiece of a computer for its time,” with most components being of the highest quality and special praise being given to the HD screen. However Stern also notes that the market these days is full of competition for ultraportables such as the Air and the Samsung Series 9 and that the price of the Vaio Z is a big sticking point. With this in mind Stern would find it hard to recommend the Vaio Z unless you have pots of money to spare. Pros for the Vaio Z were noted as its lightness, HD display and fast SSD and performance while cons were the poor speakers, “flaky touchpad,” loud fans and of course that price.

Onto another review then and this time it’s from Mark Spoonauer over on Laptop who gave the Vaio Z a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. Spoonauer used the top-of-the-line Vaio Z for the review at $2,749 and wondered if the versatility of this laptop could stand up to the fact that some of the competition is less than half the price. This review also includes detailed tests so check it out at the link for more on that. By the end of the review it was said that the Sony Vaio Z has a lot going for it but the price is prohibitive when considering for the same money consumers could buy a Samsung Series 9 laptop, a 4G smartphone and an iPad. Although the Vaio Z was described as the “fastest and most versatile ultraportable yet,” there’s a price to pay both in cost and in the drawbacks. The cons were listed as the keyboard, touchpad size, poor audio, and loud fan as well as the expense. Pros included the lightness, fast performance, display options and more. In fact both the positives and the negatives tallied very much with the opinion of our first reviewer.

The final review in our roundup came from Cisco Cheng of PC Mag who gave the Vaio Z a 3 out of 5 rating and once again the pricing was a real bone of contention. Cheng noted that while the Vaio Z was certainly cutting edge and used excellent components, some elements had been overlooked. Pros were judged to be the fast performance, its slimness and design, the Light Peak docking station, display and battery life. However once again cons were fan noise, poor keyboard, speakers and that price.

All in all then it seems as though the Sony Vaio Z series has some great design, features and top-end specs but that it’s not without flaws and the pricing will be prohibitive for many. Only you can decide if that price is worth paying and of course personal taste will come into it, but it appears that the MacBook Air, Samsung Series 9 and others are just as adequate for most consumers and at far less cost. We’d be interested to hear your views on the Vaio Z series. Do you think it’s worth the price or will you be opting for a less expensive laptop? Let us know with your comments.

  • Robert Siegel

    Sony’s return policy is 30 days , any reason, any cause, no restocking fee. That’s very hard to beat and gives me ample time to decide if my pre-ordered Vaio Z is worth the price.

  • Robert Siegel

    Sony’s return policy is 30 days, for any reason, no restocking fee. That is hard to beat. It gives me ample time to reach my own decision on whether my pre-ordered Vaio Z is worth its premium price.