The Vaio Z11 is not, then, a machine for folk who need plenty of away-from-the-mains runtime. And, just as we noted with the equally thin-lidded Vaio TT, it's not for buyers who expect their laptops to take a lot of punishment.
Pay for the name
What it is is a machine for punters who appreciate aesthetics and are after a good looking machine that offers a decent degree of performance and connectivity in a unit that's more portable than a 15-incher but with a larger screen than you'd find on an ultra-portable laptop or a netbook.
We should also mention that it'll appeal to folk who appreciate good connectivity. In addition to Bluetooth 2.1 and 802.11n Wi-Fi, it has built-in HSDPA 3G - just slot in a SIM.
Sony obviously has its eye on people who might otherwise be Mac users - hence the full RGB gamut claim, which it hopes will appeal to designers and photographers. Even so, the screen's not the best we've seen - we noticed hints of moire patterns when our eyes moved rapidly and horizontally across the screen.
And we're not sure how many potential buyers the 16:9 ratio will really matter to. Some, yes; but most folk we know are happy watching DVDs on any screen, happily putting up with the letterbox bars - which you're going to get on 2.4:1 movie content anyway.
Sony wants between £1399 and £2999 for models in the the Z11 range, which is a lot for a laptop. The higher price tags buy you faster CPUs and bigger hard drives, but the £1505 model we reviewed delivered sufficient performance for most tasks and going up the range doesn't get you a better GPU.
We like the Vaio Z11's performance, portability and connectivity, but we were disappointed with the battery life - especially because its dual-GPU set-up is supposed to improve it. If battery life doesn't matter to you, you have deep pockets and you want a full-gamut RGB screen, there's a lot of to appreciate here. But more mainstream users can find better value machines out there.
Sony Vaio TT
Asus Eee S101
Apple MacBook Pro
Sony Vaio Z11 13in laptop
How much does that keyboard remind you of the ZX Spectrum? Slap a few weird symbols on them and three different shift modes and you would be right there.
As for the size - the larger the keyboard is, the easier it is to type on, so the fact that the MacBook Air is larger is surely a positive? Particularly since it does so while remaining lighter than this, and cheaper as well?
The trackpad scrolling areas are hardware related as the special areas of the pad have extra links and controls wired to them if you have a look at the underside. I would guess that is how you can scroll as you click on a selection similar to if the trackpad was a multitouch one, though that would be a very limited kind of multitouch!
Surely the trackpad scrolling is software, not hardware.
And the scale on that graph sucks, give us some more detail!
Targeting Mac customers?
True, I was considering a Mac when I got the (very similar) SZ a year ago, but the sony won because it was far more powerful and had the 3d chip. It's targeting people who want a smalll, light, powerful, pretty laptop and don't care about MacOS.
A year ago apple weren't producing anything that small with a decent GFX chip. Now? Well I'd probably go for the cheaper macbook option, if I could overcome my revulsion at the keyboard. I'd say it's apple that have moved into Sony's territory here.
Also I got mine for 700 quid less than the UK list price because I bought it in the US. We are still being *hugely* ripped off here in the UK. From 1400 quid the reg article says. Sony.com has them starting at $1650.
That makes me sick.
Good point - hadn't thought of it that way. I've been looking at Lenovos recently and they definitely seem to like producing the same machine with both integrated and discrete GPU, and giving it the same model number but different suffix. Doesn't really fit in with Apple's minimalist line offerings I guess so they differentiate by including this as standard, and allows everyone to run with or without discrete GPU. I'd like to see what savings Apple gets for economy of scale in having so few variants of machine on offer...
@Alastair (and also the review): I'm surprised to hear that the thin screen flexes so much! What is it made of? I would have thought it'd be Carbon Fibre which shouldn't flex much at all. The TT gets the same comments as well about bendy screens, but I noticed that both the older SZ and TZ have rigid screens, so much so that I have a bad habit of picking up machines by the corner of the screen. My work HP doesn't like it much, with a big green stripe that occasionally appears...
AC as I'm meant to be ensuring a certain tax doober changes as it should do for our customers...