Sony VAIO VGN-Z11WN/B review
Sony's Z-Series is an ultraportable to aspire to, but it's not without its faults.
Review Date: 19 Sep 2008
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £1,277 (£1,469 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
A couple of months back we took a tentative first look at Sony's forthcoming range of business ultraportables, the Z-Series, in PC Pro's blogs. Now, finally, we can stop gazing adoringly at the press photos, as Sony has sent us the first VGN-Z11WN/B in the UK.
Sony's other ultraportable, the VGN-TZ31, won our hearts when it arrived back in PC Pro's offices not so very long ago, and the Z11WN is its bigger, pricier brother. The TZ31's 11.1in screen grows in stature to a more sizable 13.1in panel, and the already generous 1,366 x 768 native resolution swells to a not-far-off full HD 1,600 x 900 pixels - by far the highest resolution panel we've seen on an ultraportable.
Of course, that extra screen size means that the whole chassis is that bit bigger, measuring 314 x 210 x 33mm, but although you'd expect weight to start troubling the 2kg mark at that size, you'd be wide of the mark. Indeed, pop the Z11WN/B on the scales and it reaches a stunningly svelte 1.47kg - less even than substantially smaller TZ31.
What's impressive then, is that despite the Sony's extreme light weight, it still manages to feel sturdier and more resilient than its diminutive predecessor. The base is far more resistant to flex, or just heavy-handed twisting and tugging, and it feels far capable of surviving the rigours of regular travel and transatlantic flights.
The ultra-thin LED-backlit display proves less flexible than the TZ31, but in all honesty, that's not a huge compliment. It looks stunningly slim, granted, but that thinness doesn't seem to afford the display a great deal of protection. The panel seems well isolated from twisting motions, and you still have to prod reasonably firmly on its rear to transmit any showthrough to the display itself, but this is one laptop that's best ensconced in the safety of a well-padded laptop bag.
Say what you will about its durability, but quality is not an area where this display is lacking; every one of the display's 13.1 inches is stunningly bright. LED-backlighting provides incredibly vivid brightness and its contrast is beyond reproach. There's the tell-tale subtle red push that we so often see on Sony displays, but while it leaves whites a little impure, it more than makes up for it with real world performance, with eye-poppingly vibrant colours. Crysis' jungle environments burst forth from the screen with alluring intensity and 1080p movie clips are similarly well-handled.
And, any talk of the Sony's display segues nicely into another one of its talents, namely its twin graphics chipsets. When light gaming is on the agenda, the Sony has a discrete Nvidia 9300M GS chipset ready to deal with 3D duties. But, when battery life is more crucial than graphical grunt, simply flick the switch above the keyboard's left edge from speed to stamina, and there's an Intel GMA X4500MHD chipset to fall back upon. It's a trick we've seen before, but it's enough to swell the Sony's battery life, under light usage, from 5hrs to 5hrs 46mins.
Even with that Nvidia chipset enabled, though, gaming performance is merely adequate. Our least demanding Crysis test, run at 1,024 x768 resolution and low detail, saw the Sony manage a barely-playable 24 frames per second. Cranking that up to 1,280 x 1,024 resolution and medium detail proved far too much for the 9300M GS, and the Sony slowed to an unplayable 6.6fps. It's no match for more focussed gaming laptops, but for an ultraportable it is admittedly an impressive performance.
This is my 4th Sony Vaio laptop over the years and I always went back because of the quality.
I have the Z11 6 months now and so far:
- The power adapter burnt out
- The screen is loose and clicking on opening.
- Stop working altogether today, won't power on, have to send back to Sony for repairs..
Really disappointed, and figure they are producing a sub standard product currently.
By CormacH2011 on 18 Feb 2011
- Will the next Windows 8.1 update arrive next month?
- BBC Sport comes to Chromecast
- Those parental-control filters? As few as 4% are signing up
- iPhone 6's Apple logo may light up for notifications
- Apple releases round 4 of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite betas
- Cortana preview headed to Britain in two weeks
- Google unveils Chrome OS update "Athena"
- Piracy warning letters: four strikes and you're not out
- iPhone 6 sapphire display: is Apple cutting costs with composite materials?
- Google admits games with in-app purchases aren't free
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- Hacking the Internet of Things: from smart cars to toilets
- BlackBerry Passport release date, specs, features, and rumours: when is the new BlackBerry coming out?
- What's changing in the computing curriculum
- Teaching kids to code
- Best free translation apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Apple iOS vs Android vs Windows 8 – what's the best compact tablet OS?
- The 11 best tablets of 2014: what’s the best tablet on the market?
- How to free up hard disk space
- Driverless cars: could your next car be driven by a robot?
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?