Introducing the Sony VAIO Z2

Users who want everything out of their notebook, no matter how ridiculous the demands, are probably more than at least a little curious about Sony's new VAIO Z2. There's good reason to be: this 13.1" ultrabook features a stunning 1080p screen, a secondary battery slice that nearly doubles running time off the mains, and an external dock box that features an optical drive, additional connectivity, and a dedicated GPU that can actually be used to power the notebook's internal screen. The VAIO Z2 has a lot going for it, but is it worth the heavy price tag?

Sony's website lists this unit under the same old Z-series heading, but you'll remember last generation's Z-series notebooks used Arrandale CPUs and packed an optical drive and GPU into the main chassis. The Z2 also technically wouldn't qualify as an ultrabook with a starting price north of $1,600, but the design and build quality is basically in line with Intel's specification (other than the full power CPU). Sony just also happens to include a wealth of extras in the box with it to shore up any deficiencies the primary system might have.

Sony VAIO Z2 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-2620M
(2x2.7GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.4GHz, 32nm, 4MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM67
Memory 4GB integrated DDR3-1333 in dual channel
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1.3GHz)

AMD Radeon HD 6650M 1GB DDR3 (in external dock)
(480 shaders, 128-bit memory bus, 725MHz/1.8GHz core/memory clocks, running at PCIe 2.1 x4)
Display 13.1" LED Matte 16:9 1080p
Sony MS_0025
Hard Drive(s) 2x128GB Samsung SATA 3Gbps SSD in RAID 0 (integrated)
Optical Drive Optiarc DVD+/-RW (in external dock)
Networking Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet (second in dock)
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Audio Realtek ALC275 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Single combination mic/headphone jack
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 45Wh (integrated)

6-Cell, 11.1V, 49Wh (battery slice)
Front Side MS/MSPro card reader
SD/MMC card reader
Right Side Mic/headphone combo jack
Ethernet port
HDMI
USB 2.0
USB 3.0/dock combo port
AC adaptor
Left Side VGA
Exhaust vent
Kensington lock
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 13.0" x 0.66" x 8.27" (WxHxD)
330mm x 16.8mm x 210mm
Weight 2.57 lbs (with standard battery)
1.17kg
Extras Webcam
SD and MS card readers
2xSSD in RAID 0
USB 3.0
Bluetooth
Removable external battery slice

External docking unit which features:
DVD+/-RW drive
2x USB 2.0
1x USB 3.0
Gigabit ethernet
HDMI
VGA
AMD Radeon HD 6650M 1GB DDR3
Warranty 1-year international warranty
Pricing Starts at $1,649
As configured: $2,499

It's fairly obvious Sony is gunning for the premium ultraportable market with the VAIO Z2, much as they did with its predecessors. The Z2 is slim and light, but unlike other ultrabooks, Sony elected to use a full-wattage Intel Sandy Bridge processor in the form of the Core i7 2620M, a dual-core processor that runs at a 2.7GHz nominal clock but turbos up to 3.2GHz on both cores or 3.5GHz on a single core. They pair it with 4GB of dual channel DDR3-1333, and you can order the Z2 with up to 8GB, but buyer beware: the memory is soldered on to the motherboard. If you want more than the standard 4GB of DDR3, you'd better order it from the get go because you won't be able to upgrade it later.

Also not upgradable but still appreciated is the SSD. Information about the controller used is not forthcoming, but the individual drives are running on SATA 3Gbps instead of SATA 6Gbps, and then data is striped between two channels in RAID 0. It's a decision of questionable value to the end user; the HM67 mobile chipset is capable of supporting a SATA 6Gbps SSD, so the only real benefit here is the pair of SSD controllers theoretically improving overall throughput.

The rest of the notebook on its own is business as usual excepting the stellar 1080p 13.1" screen. It's definitely a TN panel, but as you'll see later it's among the best notebook screens we've ever tested. The 1080p screen is an upgrade, but even the bottom rung model of Z2 still comes with a 900p screen bog standard, a far cry from the poor quality 768p screens other manufacturers are using.

While sheet batteries are nothing new and the one available for the Z2 does exactly what it was intended for, the docking unit is another matter entirely. Sony dubs it the Power Media Dock, and it offers something most notebook users have been clamoring for: a discrete graphics upgrade. Since the Z2 itself is too small to house a discrete GPU, the Power Media Dock features an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of DDR3. Unlike prototypes that have been announced year after year (and almost never materialize in the marketplace), the Z2's Power Media Dock is capable of actually using the Radeon with the internal screen instead of forcing you to use an external monitor if you want dedicated graphics performance. The dock also includes additional connectivity along with a DVD+/-RW drive, and more expensive versions can upgrade to a Blu-ray reader or a Blu-ray writer.

Accessories to a Crime
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  • epyon96 - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Please keep the imperial system and give us both.

    Metric system is useful for math but it is hard to imagine visually.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Speak for yourself... I've grown up with both. :) Reply
  • Plattypus - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Hard to imagine visually for 4.55% of the population. The world doesn't revolve around the united states. Reply
  • flamefox777 - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    "Hard to imagine visually for 4.55% of the population. The world doesn't revolve around the united states."

    That's sooo cute in a naive and innocent sort of way! ^_^ It's always so adorable when someone from the other part of the world tries to convince people (all who know better) that the world isn't centered on the USA. ^_^

    So, we have 4.55% of the population? We'll go with that. Google tells me we also put out about a $14.58 Trillion GDP -- that's 32.74% of global GDP. China, in the number 2 slot, does $5.88 Trillion.

    You watch our movies and television, you buy our crap, take our handouts, talk (bad) about us. You're on our Internet, going to our sites and talking about our stuff (some of you even learned English just to do so)...

    Kinda hard to argue the world doesn't revolve around us. I guess It's debatable. Cute when someone tries, anyway. "Our country is important too!"

    Please do stop becoming so Americanized, though. We need vacation spots. XD

    I agree, though, for the rest of the population not lucky enough to be in the greatest country in the world, you could include the metric system. It's quick an easy to do, and there's no arguing it's better in every way. It is ethnocentric to ignore their pleas. We wouldn't want to be ethnocentric, now, would we? XD

    In it for the trollololz! XD
    Reply
  • InsaneScientist - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    I'm not gonna touch most of that post with a 10ft pole. lol...

    However, I do have to take issue with your math.

    US GDP is about $14.58T, that we agree on.
    World GDP is somewhere in the neighborhood of $63.04T right now, though.
    14.58/63.04 = 23.13%
    Definitely still a HUGE part of the world production capacity... but we're not quite as high as you said. ;)
    Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    You also has a trade deficit of 558 billion US and does export less goods then China. Funny about numbers... Germany is also a larger exporter then the US. Per capita even the fallen down former power of United Kingdom does export more stuff. China and Germany has more production capacity however you look at it. Which of course makes the US far less then a quarter of the world market/production and rather at 8-9%. That doesn't mean there aren't important companies there, dominating in it's fields, sheer size and government founded research and procurement makes sure of that, but it doesn't make it some god given gift to mankind. Your also one of the biggest markets, but that doesn't mean everybody should join the fight for it.

    It all depends on how much air your GDP is made up with. That air is of course basically taken from other countries.
    Reply
  • flamefox777 - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    Tell you what, Penti, you just manipulate those numbers however makes you feel good about your country or whoever you're rooting for. I want you to feel warm and fuzzy about your little country. Sure, sure; it's our government funding that makes our companies great or whatever. Justify our dominance however you want.

    The sour grapes are so cute! ^_^ I just want to pinch your widdle cheeks! ^_^

    XD

    In it for the trollololz! XD
    Reply
  • jay_kay - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    aww, it's always so cute to see a cry baby who gets offended by a simple fact ^_^
    USA is the greatest country in the universe, but unfortunately they don't make the bulk of the population on earth. The majority of the people who read the articles here are from outside USA. isn't that sad? :-(
    but the good thing is that the previous comment actually made you spend some time to search and learn a bit about your country. Now you know more about your country kiddo. your daddy is gonna be so proud about you ^_^
    C'mon, he didn't say anything bad about your country at all. I admire USA, a great country. But ironically, it is the least important people, people who are next to useless to the growth of USA who talk like this and people start thinking that Americans in general are idiotic. The guy on top of you just said something about you guys being just a part of the world population, no need to feel so insecure. ;-) and it was a few percentage of your population that made your country great. Great men and women created industries, created jobs, paved way for fast growth and development with the help of other Americans. A few useless morons, who can be totally useless, just because of the virtue of being an American, think they are great.
    I see you mentioned China there. Wow, this kid knows another country's name now! btw, China is growing faster than USA. it will inevitably overcome USA in the near future. Maybe you can help your country, by doing something other than writing how great your country is. Do that quick before you lose your job to some chinese or Indian.
    and btw, there's a country called England. That is where English came from. People speak English because of them. they conquered many parts of the world. You should thank them. :-D
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    /signed
    A lot of articles have metric measurements but just about as many don't have it. Baffling to me.
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    What, you mean you can't find a simple free conversion site on the web? REALLY? I don't whine about it when reading a European website and do a conversion. Sheesh you lazy people. Reply

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