The Holy Grail of Laptops ?
SONY VAIO VPCZ128GGX (Australian model)(Now Z138)
I have been selling computers for many years and its always been the case that what users wanted was a fast, powerful, light weight, laptop with great battery life. This has always been a contradiction as you could have great battery life but had to give up performance or you could have great performance at the cost of lightness and battery life. Well the Sony Z128 may have actually done the impossible and produced a laptop that is light weight, powerful and fast, and has awesome battery life.
SONY has delved deep into the exotic parts bin to do this, and that is reflected in the price. The Sony Z128 isn’t cheap, but that’s to be expected when you have components like Solid State drives, intels high end I7 processor, 8GB of fast DDR3 ram, and carbon composite/precision billet aluminium construction. The LED backlit LCD display is a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. The Sony VAIO Z128 design makes me think of a formula 1 car, as no part of the design has been compromised, and exotic parts are used when there is a benefit. This results in the Sony VAIO Z128 delivering in spades, in all areas of performance.
Just the construction and build quality is extremely impressive, and gives the Sony VAIO Z128 a very solid feel while still be amazingly light. SONY has precision machined the body out of a single billet of aluminium, and made the lid out of an advanced carbon composite, that provides strength with light weight. Anyone who regularly lugs a laptop around will certainly appreciate the Sony Z128 shoulder friendly 1.4 Kilogram weight (1.8kG with power supply). It almost defies belief that such a small weight, can also pack so much punch. Its 13 inch form factor is already a proven winner with travellers, as it means the laptop can be used in-flight without over hanging the seat tray in planes, and also fits in standard hotel safes.The unit also comes with SONY noise cancelling headphones, which will be fantastic on long flights, or commutes.
The styling of the Sony Z128 can only be considered understated. Its not a look at me type laptop. It is very stylish but in a tailored suit manner, that is hiding the super hero underneath. I am sure this is a very smart move by SONY as this is a laptop that will appeal to many who spend a lot of time in board rooms and meetings etc and will want the best in performance without ostentatiousness. It screams class, as opposed to try hard. Others will just love it because they will probably be the only ones who know the power that lies at their fingertips. It doesn’t give any clues to its raw power, although nothing about it looks or feels cheap.
The real joy of this stellar little laptop, is in the use. I knew it was quick when I first set up our display model at work. I have set up countless machines for display and none have come close to the quickness of the Sony Z128 was to complete the initial set up process. I then opened the on board user manual, which is a PDF document. This document is 218 pages long and yet it was open in literally about 4 seconds and I could instantly access any of the 218 pages. I read a review of this laptop and they stated it was the fastest laptop they had ever benchmarked in their lab, and I can see why as its definately the fastest laptop I have ever used.
One of the reasons the Sony Z128 is so fast is because of the intel I7 processor, and the massive 8GB of DDR3 dual channel SDRAM. Using Windows 7 Professional 64 bit also helps(XP is also included on a disc), as it allows the computer to take advantage of all that ram and is an inherently faster operating system than the 32 bit version. The other reason is the solid state drives. These are configured in a RAID 0 set up, that is all about getting maximum speed from the drives, as opposed to other configuration options, that would not provide the same speed benefit. The Sony Z128 only has 256 GB of on board storage, on these Solid state drives, but for most users that will be ample space. The addition of external storage drive, for stuff you don’t need when travelling, would get around this, if you did need more space, and external hard drives are cheap and spacious.
The Solid state drives provide other benefits besides speed. They also draw less charge and so benefit battery life. They also are extremely rugged, and will work in extreme temperature ranges, like below freezing although its doubtful many people would care or want to take advantage of this. Another benefit is they generate far less heat than a traditional hard drive, and so you wont have any problems with the laptop getting too hot on your lap. The fact heat isn’t generated is also a major plus for reliability, as heat is the enemy of all electronic devices.
The Sony Z128 is fitted with the latest version of SONYs automatic graphic card switch. This allows for automatic switching to using the onboard graphics on batteries(stamina mode), which helps SONY get 5 hours of moderate use, from its batteries. On mains power, the unit switches to a more powerful NVIDIA GeForce GT330m graphics card(speed mode) for mre powerful graphics performance. You can also switch the laptop from stamina t speed on batteries, if you require the extra grunt for a particular task, obviously at the expense of battery life. This is a very practical solution and gets maximum battery life, when away from the mains plus maximum speed when on mains power, while giving the user the ability to crank up graphics power if they need on batteries.
SONY have some great optional accessories for the Sony Z128, including a docking station(also called a port replicator). This docking station could be used at the office for example, where the laptop could be hooked up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, external hard drives, network cable etc. When its time to head out to a meeting or go home, you simply lift the laptop off and you are on your way. All your ancillary devices including power remain plugged in to your docking station. When you get home you simply plug in the original power supply, if needed. Another option is a higher capacity battery that effectively doubles the life on battery power. This does add a lot of weight but for some having all day computing will be worth it.
SONY has fitted the keyboard with automatic backlit keys. This means that when things start to get dark the keys begin to glow, which is a very cool feature, and one most laptop users would appreciate. The unit isn’t fitted with a Blue-ray burner or player, like some previous Z series laptops, but as this feature would provide little benefit for most users and would add to the price, its omission isn’t really an issue in my opinion. The Sony Z128 still has a DVD/CD burner and this all most, if not all users, would need. One quirk is the DVD drive doesn’t have its eject button on the draw itself, like most laptops, but instead has a button conveniently placed on the right above the keyboard. This will prevent accidental opening of the drive, when something brushes against the side of the laptop, like most designs.
The Sony Z128 also has brothers in the Z126 and Z127 models. The Z126 and Z 127 are fitted with an I5 processor, have 128 GB of solid state drives, are fitted with 6GB of DDR3 SDRAM and have a lower screen resolution, compared to the Sony Z128, but are other wise identical. The Z127 also has a built in 3G sim card slot fitted internally for mobile broadband. Both these models will blow most other laptops out of the water in performance terms, and also have slightly better battery life then the Sony Z128 (5.5 hours of moderate use).
The Z128 has been replaced with the Z138. The only change is the processor is now even faster.
Overall I am incredibly impressed by this laptop and believe SONY has created the Holy Grail of laptops, that has it all, speed, power, durability, light weight, and great battery life.