Fans of VAIO laptops may recall the flagship Z series being known for its impressive portability, until it quietly disappeared in 2017. The good news is that the Sony spinoff is now bringing this line out of retirement, thanks to a breakthrough in carbon fiber production. The new VAIO Z is allegedly the world's first laptop to sport a "3D molded full carbon fiber body," as in each carbon fiber piece is contoured around all sides on the lid, the palm rest and the base assembly. Previously, VAIO could only use flat carbon fiber sheets, so it had to rely on metallic or plastic parts to hold those together.
Using this new production technique co-developed with carbon fiber specialist, Toray, the result is a stronger structure -- one that can apparently survive a 127cm or 4.1ft drop (a little beyond the MIL-STD-810H requirement) -- while keeping the laptop's weight to a little under 2.3lbs or 1.04kg. Not bad, considering the VAIO Z packs a 14-inch 4K anti-glare LCD, along with a backlit keyboard featuring an improved 1.5mm key pitch stroke.
But in terms of sockets, you only get one USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port on each side, a full-size HDMI port, a headphone jack and a security lock slot. A far cry from VAIO's earlier SX series.
To ease your mind, VAIO has added a physical privacy shutter to the 2-megapixel webcam, though you'll want to keep it open for Windows Hello instant sign-in, of course. On a related note, the VAIO Z provides a keyboard shortcut (Fn + Tab keys) for muting both stereo microphones at an instant.
Battery life is another main selling point here. The company claims that the VAIO Z can last for up to 10 hours (the Japanese spec sheet even lists 17 hours, based on local test standards), yet it's powered by an Intel Core i7-11375H high-performance processor complete with Iris Xe graphics. This is a much welcomed change compared to the low-voltage CPUs on older models.
Interestingly, the US market is only getting the Signature Edition VAIO Z, which starts from $3,579 (16GB LPDDR4 RAM and 512GB "4th Generation" PCIe SSD) and maxes out at $4,179 (32GB RAM and 2TB SSD). Despite VAIO's attempt to pitch the Z up against Apple's M1 MacBook Pro in its keynote, it's clear that this laptop isn't for everyone. But by all means, if you happen to be looking for an excuse to splash out while stuck at home, VAIO is now taking pre-orders. Otherwise, there are obviously plenty other more affordable options.