Sony takes wraps off new ‘ultra-mobile’ VAIO Z Series with Power Media Dock
By Darren Quick
June 28, 2011
Sony has taken the wraps off its new VAIO Z Series at a press event in Europe. Weighing in at 1.2 kg (2.64 lb) and measuring 16.65 mm (0.65 in) thin, the "ultra-mobile" notebook PC sports a 13.1-inch, 1600 x 900 pixel, anti-reflective display and packs a full-voltage Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU along with solid state drive. Designed for users who don't want to choose between desktop power and notebook portability, the VAIO Z Series also comes with a Power Media Dock that connects to the notebook via a "Light Peak" optical cable to add quad monitor support, an optical drive, extra connectivity options and AMD Radeon HD graphics.
On it's own, the VAIO Z Series manages to pack a bit of power into its diminutive carbon fiber frame. The full-voltage Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU sits alongside 4 to 8GB of RAM, 128 GB to 512 GB SSD drive and on-board graphics in the form of Intel's HD Graphics 3000. There's also 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, USB 3.0 port, HDMI out with 3D support, optional 3G WWAN, 1.3-megapixel webcam, stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater v4, fingerprint sensor, backlit keyboard and a new "button-less" touchpad.
The Z Series takes a few features already appearing in Sony's VAIO S Series. Namely a Quick Boot feature that Sony claims will see Windows 7 Professional booting up to 50 percent quicker than conventional notebooks, and a 'sheet battery' that works in combination with the notebook's internal lithium polymer battery that provides up to seven hours of battery life. The sheet battery is a thin, flat, optional lithium polymer battery that can be charged separately and attached to the base of the PC without removing the internal battery or switching off the unit to provide a total of up to 14 hours of combined battery life.
But if it's power of a different sort you're after then the notebook can be connected to the optional Power Media Dock via an optical cable. The dock adds the graphics power of an AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card with 1GB of VRAM, a DVD SuperMultiDrive or Blu-ray drive with DVD SuperMulti, support for up to four displays via HDMI and/or VGA, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port and an Ethernet port. The dock isn't too much of a desk hog either, coming in at 148 x 16.65 x 220 mm (5.82 x 0.65 x 8.66 in) and weighing 0.685 kg (1.5 lb).
Because Sony is using a USB port for the optical connection and not the Mini DisplayPort-shaped jack laid down for compliance with Thunderbolt, Sony is referring to the connector as "Light Peak," which is the codename used for the technology when it was being developed by Intel. While this means it won't be compatible with Thunderbolt peripherals without some sort of adapter, when the notebook isn't hooked up to the Power Media Dock, the port can be used as an extra USB port.
The new Sony VAIO Z Series is set for a late July release in Europe with prices starting at GBP1,434 (approx. US$2,289), while the Power Media Dock prices start at GBP400 (approx. US$638).