In today's cut-price age is there a place for a full-on no-compromise high cost ultra portable? We weigh up the Sony Vaio VGN-Z51WG in this review.
Sony's Z-series has been around for a while but we've yet to get hold of one for the virtual pages of IT PRO. However, now that Windows 7 has arrived it seemed like a good opportunity to visit the very high-end of Sony's laptop range.
One of the highlights of the Z-series is its long battery life, which is made possible by the clever trick of offering two graphics options - integrated Intel GMA X4500HD for stamina, and an Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS for when speed is called for. With Windows 7's superior power management we were keen to see how it would fare.
The provision of both graphics options hints at what Sony is trying to achieve here. While many people might have a dekstop and a netbook, or a desktop replacement laptop and a netbook, the Z51WG makes a fine stab at crossing the boundaries of portability combined with real grunt for when you need it. Naturally, there's the not inconsiderable sum of the £1,592 ex. VAT to part with for the privilege, and more if you go for the Z55 with its Blu-ray equipped option. But it's nice to have the choice isn't it?
Open the lid and you'll find the 13.1in display attached on the bottom of the lid hinge, ensuring that the notebook doesn't sit as high as it would otherwise, which will prove helpful on a cramped plane seat. The screen also goes to prove that not all LED displays are created equal - this one is of the highest quality, being remarkably thin, and so bright that it required turning down a couple of notches under office lights. However, the full whack will be much appreciated under bright sunlight. The lighting is also very even and the white's pure, which helps with colour reproduction and black levels. The 1,600 x 900 resolution also gives good scope to work with.
The other crucial element here is the keyboard and this one is an absolute peach. The keys are very spread out, so there's no chance of double pressing, and the travel is slightly springy and not too firm, so ideal for periods of prolonged typing.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo P9700
Memory: 6GB DDR3
Storage: 320GB hard disk
Graphics: Intel GMA X4500MHD and Nvidia Geforce 9300M GS
Display: 13.1in 1,600 x 900
Ports: 2 x USB, VGA, HDMI, SD & Memory stick slot, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire
Connectivity: 802.11bg +, Bluetooth
OS: Windows 7 Professional
Dimensions: 314 x 210 x 33mm (WDH)