Formerly under the Sony umbrella, Vaio's Z-series notebooks are known for combining high performance with a light weight and sleek look. From time to time, Vaio redesigns these machines to offer something that its rivals do not, and this week it introduced its all-new Vaio Z-series notebooks in the U.S. These machines pack in a rather serious hardware into a unique 3D molded carbon fiber chassis for a hefty starting price of $3,579.
Various PC makers have used carbon fiber to build parts of their laptop enclosures since the mid-2000s. Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Vaio's Z-series have extensively used carbon fiber for about a decade. But so far, no PC has ever used a chassis made of 3D-molded carbon fiber or a carbon fiber unibody. The new Vaio Z lineup will compete with the best ultrabooks and premium laptops with just that. Essentially, all body parts of the new Vaio Z, except hinges, are made using a process that stacks the fiber sheets in three dimensions to maximize rigidity of the chassis without increasing weight.
The impressive, and to a large degree unique, Vaio Z machines are available for pre-orders from US.vaio.com. Starting from March, the notebooks will also be available in retail. Pricing of the new laptops starts at $3,579, which is unprecedentedly high. A lot of that high MSRP is because Vaio's molded carbon fiber process technology is still very expensive.
"Vaio has developed a unique process of working with carbon fiber to achieve beautifully contoured lines and the flexible molding of carbon fiber, that was previously difficult to mass produce," Kaoru Hayashi, Director, Vice President and Head of PC Business at Vaio Corp., said in a statement. "The achievement of harnessing carbon fiber's full potential of lightness and durability is both revolutionary and evolutionary as we continue looking ahead."
The good news is that the company implied that it will leverage carbon fiber going forward, which could eventually reduce costs, due to volume of scale.
"With this evolution, the new Vaio Z offers exceptional performance, lightness, endurance, now with true ruggedness and without compromise, all converging into one elegant design," Hayashi said. "With Vaio Z as our flagship model, we hope it is the start of Vaio's future array of laptop PC developments."
Vaio Z Specs
The new Vaio Z is equipped with a 14-inch 4K resolution display that Vaio claims reproduce 99.8% of the DCI-P3 color space. The system measures approximately 12.60 x 0.48 - 0.67 x 8.69 inches and weighs up to 2.32 pounds, which is rather light for a 14-inch, high-end machine. For comparison, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 8) is 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches and 2.4 pounds.
Inside the Vaio Z is pretty powerful hardware. The notebooks take from Intel's H35-series of CPUs targeting thin-and-light gaming laptops, specifically the Core i7-11375H. The processor has four CPU cores clocked at 3.30-5.0 GHz, as well as the Iris Xe Graphics with 96 EUs. The CPU has a TDP rating of up to 35W.
In the case of the Vaio Z, the CPU is further enhanced with Vaio's TruePerformance technology, a combination of increased CPU power limits, a cooling system that can handle increased heat and a BIOS setting. According to Vaio, TruePerformance allows the CPU to work at its maximum Turbo Boost 2.0-defined frequency for up to 40 seconds, which is longer than on most notebooks.
In the connectivity department, Vaio's new Z-series laptops include a Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth 5.1 adapter, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI display output and a 3.5mm connector for headsets.
As for media capabilities, the system is equipped with Dolby Audio-badged speakers, a stereo microphone and a 2MP webcam with a privacy shutter.
Vaio said that its new Z-series notebooks can work for up to 10 hours on one charge, but did not disclose capacity of its Li-poly battery or how it tested the battery life.