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THE 2011 edition of Sony VAIO Z is one of the most impressive notebook PCs I’ve ever used as well as one of the most expensive ones.

By Magnus Nystedt

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Published: Sat 24 Sep 2011, 10:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:03 AM

Sony engineers and designers have certainly tried their hardest to make sure the VAIO Z is cutting edge inside and out. However, it comes with a big price tag.

With a wealth of Ultrabooks coming at us in the coming months, we’ll see where the Z fits in with the competition. Ultrabooks will not offer the same performance as the VAIO Z, at least not for quite some time yet, that’s for sure.

If we start on the outside, I’ve rarely seen a notebook as attractive as this, and yes, that includes Apple’s MacBook Air. It weighs in at 1.2kg and is 15.24mm thin. And note that is the thickness throughout, the VAIO Z is flat as a book; no wedge-shape here.

Setting it apart from Apple’s portables, the VAIO Z is made with carbon fiber, giving it a very high-tech feeling. To fit everything into this slim shape, obviously Sony had to cut some corners. Compared with the previous Z generation, Sony removed the optical drive and dedicated graphics cards.

Despite the slim and light profile, Sony has managed to include headphone/mic port, Ethernet jack, USB 2.0 and 3.0 sockets, HDMI and VGA-out, and SD and Memory Stick slots. There’s also more than enough power with an Intel Core i7 processor running at 2.7GHz, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD.

The island-style keyboard is very pleasant to type on with keys that are well spaced and quiet. Sony made sure the high-quality feeling also applies to the keyboard by making it backlit. The trackpad is buttonless and multitouch capable. Although it’s nice to see a fingerprint reader, its position right at the center of the trackpad is a very bad design decision.

Also impressive is the 13.1-inch display with full HD resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels. It shows an amazing level of detail, and also happens to look gorgeous, with white whites, black blacks, and good response even when playing games or watching video.

To save space and power, dedicated graphics card and optical drive now sits in an external Power Media Dock, which is included in the box. By connecting the VAIO Z to the dock, you have in effect a powerful workstation; disconnect and you have a thin and light super-ultrabook. The Power Media Doc has an AMD Radeon HD 6650M card with 1GB of video memory and a Blu Ray drive. Sony even included a special AC adapter for the dock so you won’t have to use the one for the computer.

With a price tag reading Dh11,495, it’s a bit hard to think about who to recommend the VAIO Z to, no matter how nice it is. What I can say is if you want the ultimate in portable power in a slim and light package, it’s the best there is right now. Coming Ultrabooks may give it a run for its money but that remains to be seen. You are paying a very hefty price for the pleasure though, but if that’s not a problem, Sony VAIO Z is the notebook for you.

· Magnus Nystedt talks and writes about technology as much as he can. Follow him on Twitter as @mnystedt for the latest on consumer technology in the Middle East.

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