18 January 2011

Knockout Notebook Tests Limits of Performance, Price Tag


No question, there is lots to love about Sony’s Z-Series Vaio, model VPCZ125GX/B.
Performance is blazing, nearly at the top of the charts and surprising for a machine this diminutive: The 13.1-inch notebook weighs a paltry 3.1 pounds, yet it packs a high-end 2.4-GHz Core i5 CPU, 6 GB (yes, six) of RAM, optical drive, and switchable graphics, courtesy of an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M. All of this gives the Vaio Z-Series not just power enough to tear up a spreadsheet, but plenty of juice for gaming, too. Seriously, this unit can outperform all but the most dedicated gaming notebooks during frag-time.

But wait, there’s more! How about integrated Verizon WWAN? A backlit keyboard? A 256-GB solid state hard drive? Three and a half hours of battery life? SD and Memory Stick slots? Even upgraded screen resolution, to 1600 x 900 pixels?

Why, there’s so much to like about the Z-Series that one almost overlooks its flaws. That is, until they come roaring back to punch you in the teeth.

Said flaws number two, and they’re rather large. First is the display. LED backlighting is appreciated, as is the enhanced resolution, but there’s no explanation why, at full brightness, the screen remains one of the dimmest we’ve ever reviewed, beaming a dull gray-blue color where we expect to see vibrant white. It’s a glaring and frankly unacceptable flaw on an otherwise knockout system.

As bad as that is, the second issue is probably of greater concern to the average sub-billionaire shopper. At $2,349, this laptop is one of the most expensive we’ve tested all year. Yes, it performs like a high-end gaming notebook, but it’s priced like one too. For a machine that will likely be positioned as an executive toy, that’s an impossibly tough sell, but if you really need ultimate power at an absolute minimum weight, you’ve found it.

WIRED A powerhouse computer in an ultra-thin and light package. Looks good. Filled with features above and beyond the call of duty.

TIRED Ungodly expensive. Ultra-dim display is baffling and wrong. Wireless toggle switch is easy to bump off. Keys are a little small, touch-typing can be rocky. LCD is disconcertingly floppy.

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates