updated 06:10 pm EST, Thu January 7, 2010
Z offers aluminum and carbon fiber chassis
Sony at CES introduced several new Z Series and F Series VAIO notebooks based on Intel's Core i5 and i7 platforms. The 13-inch Z Series design is attractive and extremely light, weighing under 3 lbs, as the frame is constructed from carbon fiber and machined aluminum. The notebook offers backlit keys and a keyboard design that closely matches Apple's aluminum MacBooks.
Despite its small size, the Z is available with a choice between Intel's Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs. Sony also chose to pack a 1600x900 resolution display into a 13-inch footprint, while LED backlighting allowed the screen to remain clear and vibrant even under the bright lights of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
NVIDIA's 9300M GS graphics components can be switched off to conserve power -- another feature similar to certain high-end MacBooks. Unlike the Macs systems, however, users do not need to log out before switching modes. A switch provides another option to automatically initiate the dedicated graphics when additional acceleration is needed.
The F Series is claimed to be Sony's foray into multimedia and gaming notebooks. The Core i7-based notebook features a 16.4-inch display with 1920x1080 resolution with the high-end package, while the entry model offers 1600x900 resolution. NVIDIA's GeForce GT 330M or 320M GPUs handle the graphics acceleration, although the battery life is claimed to fall around three hours.
Like many larger notebooks, the F is fairly bulky and weighs in at 6.9 lbs. For users accustomed to centered keyboards, Sony's offset layout might feel awkward. The company integrates a numerical keypad into the right side, instead of leaving empty space on both sides.
The Z Series will ship sometime in April, with prices starting at $1900. The F Series is now available and fetches $1000 for the basic configuration.