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New Sony VAIO Z: lighter than MacBook Air, packs Thunderbolt

updated 08:50 pm EDT, Mon June 27, 2011

Sony VAIO Z repositioned as MacBook Air challenger

Sony chose Europe as the first venue to unveil a redesigned VAIO Z. The new system is now more consciously pitched as a MacBook Air equivalent and moves both the optical drive and even dedicated graphics to an external box, the Power Media Dock. The new PC is the first non-Mac to use Thunderbolt, albeit not in Mini DisplayPort form, and uses the high-speed cable to handle not just Blu-ray or DVD but AMD Radeon HD 6650M video, three USB ports, Ethernet, 3D-capable HDMI, and VGA.

Shifting the drive outwards also helps the system more directly compete with Apple on weight and thickness. It still has the 13.1-inch, 1600x900 display signature to the Z, but it now weighs just 2.6 pounds and is 0.86 inches thick.

Inside the main system, users get a full-speed, dual-core 2.7GHz Core i7 as well as two solid-state drives that combine to form 256GB in a fast RAID stripe. The configuration on show carries 8GB of RAM. When not in the dock, it has Intel integrated video, a 3G modem, and a 1.3-megapixel Exmor-based webcam. Sony's use of Thunderbolt puts it into a hybrid USB 3.0 and docking port that won't work with Apple hardware or others properly following the Thunderbolt spec.

Battery life normally lasts for as much as seven hours for the VAIO Z by itself, but it has a sheet battery like that on the VAIO S to double the battery life at the expensive of some weight and thickness.

At least in Europe, the new Z should ship by the end of July and will have options like the aforementioned Blu-ray and a 1080p screen. Although unconfirmed, this new VAIO Z is believed to be the one returning the lineup to the US. Apple is expected to counter the Z with a new MacBook Air in a matter of weeks or even days, but it may use low-voltage Core i5 and i7 chips to lower the price and keep the system slimmer.

Its use of Thunderbolt's underlying technology (Light Peak) is a partial surprise since, outside of leaks, Intel had claimed Apple had a year's head-start. Sony's decision to make its own proprietary adaptation is likely key as it doesn't require Intel's full support.

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Francis

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jun 2011


    With all of the Thunderbolt fragmentation,

    the standard will never actually take off. Hardware manufacturers won't bother supporting all of the different varieties, and consumers will be confused as to which version they are getting and what they can use it with. It'll kinda be like Android before Honeycomb.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just imagine

    ... dual-core 2.7GHz Core i7...

    Nice. Just imagine how fast that would run DOS 5.0.

  1. chas_m



    Interesting alternative

    Not of a lot of interest to MacNN types except for the fact that Thunderbolt is, as predicted, finding acceptance outside the Mac world (though Sony's idiotic practice of being cheap by using their own proprietary connection will ultimately be the death of that company).

    I note with interest that price wasn't mentioned (I'm guessing it will be more expensive than the 13" MBA) but overall it sounds like a very nice, worthwhile competitor for people who prefer their hardware cheaply made and their software inelegant and inefficient.

  1. Arty50

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why is Sony so damn stupid

    They're the kings of trying to make everything proprietary, even if it's already technically a standard.

  1. facebook_Timothy

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jun 2011


    Right Idea Gone Wrong

    If this is the widespread adoption of Thundebolt we've been promised, Jobs needs to slap the stupid out of Stringer over this botched implementation.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Vaio Z Will Obviously Fail!

    Say it again all you Windweenies out there: what good is a laptop without a built-in optical drive?

    Now load it with Windows du jour (from an external optical drive no less) and you've got a HUGE FAIL on your hands.

  1. sz.sinoman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Aspiring to be next Nokia. . . .

    Aspiring to be next Nokia. . . .

    What a tragic fall from a once great company.

  1. Foxypaco

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It looks like...

    a Decepticon.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @ FB_Francis...

    You said the "F-Word"!

    You know.... Frag-mun-tay-shun. I know it's a popular word around macnn.


    - Sent from my Android Device.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @ Arty50

    >>>They're the kings of trying to make everything proprietary

    Are you are talking about APPLE again?.


    - Sent from my Android Device.

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