VAIO Z (2021) REVIEW: THE PRICE OF CARBON FIBER

If I had to briefly describe this product with just one line, I can say: This is a thin and light laptop but the price is "heavenly".

Practically speaking, this Vaio Z laptop is a "proof of concept" (the term a product made to test the idea of ​​a certain technical feature or general design of the product). product and demonstrate that the ideas can be applied, that the product ideas are feasible).

There are two details about this eyebrow that are groundbreaking - at least on paper descriptions. The first is that it is made entirely of carbon fiber. While many high-end laptop models, including the Dell XPS 13, only use carbon fiber panels in the palm rest, while the two sides of the machine use other materials, Vaio Z uses carbon fiber to make the edges of the machine, ie the material used to create the edges around the machine (as well as most other locations) is all carbon fiber. (Vaio says the Z series is the first laptop to use carbon fiber as the material for the edges of the device, although the Gigabyte X11 2012 series also announced that its construction is made entirely of fiber carbon.)

Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13

Second, with a weight of about 0.96 kg, Vaio Z is the lightest laptop using Intel H series chips (However that is the weight of the lowest configuration version of this machine; then, I have the opportunity to experience a machine with a higher configuration and its weight is also a bit heavier - about 1.05 kg). Intel H-series processors are high-performance chips that are commonly found in laptops and gaming workstations. It's interesting (and not very common) to have an H-series chip appear inside a thin and light laptop model, especially when this machine weighs just under 1 kg - models with sizes like this are usually only equipped with U series chips, which have lower power).

The product that I am experiencing is equipped with a quad-core Intel Core i7-11375H processor, the current flagship product of Intel's brand new "Tiger Lake H" chip line. When introducing the chip at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Intel claimed it offers the fastest single-threaded performance on the market, with clock speeds that can be maxed out. to 5GHz. That's quite an impressive potential, especially when it is packed into a computer that weighs only 1.05 kg.

But, the third thing that you need to note about the Vaio Z series is that its price is not cheap. The lowest-configured version - yes, I'm not kidding and you're not wrong - costs up to $ 3,579 (about VND 82.65 million) for a configuration including Intel Core i7-11375H processor, screen 14-inch 4K display, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB hard drive. You can buy the highest configuration version for up to... $4,179 (about 96.51 million) for 32GB RAM and 2TB of hard drive storage. The version I tested in this article is the "middle" version, with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive.

Vaio Z
Vaio Z

A laptop in that price range isn't a realistic option for most casual users, despite its form-factor. So instead, I'm going to use this review to answer two questions regarding the future of the premium laptop market - questions that Vaio Z is asking: one, whether Is carbon fiber trim the future of chassis design? And second, can a laptop weighing 1.05 kg "carry" and "weigh" an H-series processor?

Vaio claims that the Vaio Z series is more durable and comfortable to use than other laptops

However, at the time this article was written, the answer to these two questions - regrettably - was still "yet".

We'll start with the chassis texture and finish. The highlight of Vaio's chassis design is the carbon fiber border material that is both sturdier than other common materials (such as magnesium alloy and aluminum alloy) that other high-end laptop models use. Furthermore, this material is also an ideal choice to combine stiffness and strength with lightweight construction. Carbon fiber also allows manufacturers to tailor stiffness and flexibility to specific locations on the laptop (by varying the number of layers and the orientation of the material). Therefore, Vaio claims the Vaio Z series is more sturdy and offers a better feeling of use than other laptops of the same weight.

Carbon fiber is used to wrap the machine on all four sides.
Carbon fiber is used to wrap the machine on all four sides.

Ruggedness and robustness are factors that are difficult to quantify and verify with product reviewers, for reasons that are not too hard to guess. Vaio says the Vaio Z product line has passed MIL-STD 10H "torture" tests, including drop tests, pressure/pressure tests and torsion tests, among other tests. other check. On the market, there are not too many laptops with an impressive weight of 1.05 kg, and therefore I have no doubt that the Vaio Z - objectively - has a better build quality and frame structure than the other products in the same segment.

But does this machine really feel sturdy? Not really. The keyboard and screen can be bent significantly. Although if I want to make the keyboard appear slightly curved, I usually have to apply quite a bit of pressure, but the area below the Shift key can be "curved" easily with just the force of a thumb. . The screen is so curved that I had to be careful when turning it for fear it might snap in half. In fact, most users don't try to bend their computer with their hands to do anything; But you should also be careful not to put too many heavy objects on the device because over time, this action can damage the screen and keyboard of the device.

When I first contacted Vaio about this, the company told me that the product is still in the pre-order stage and that the quality of the chassis will improve closer to the release date. The company then sent me another machine - a mass production machine to be shipped to the market. With this product, I noticed that the keyboard part was a bit stiffer, especially the area under the Shift key. However, considerable flex of the screen part remains.

Vaio has started using carbon fiber materials on its laptops since 2003.
Vaio has started using carbon fiber materials on its laptops since 2003.

What about the second question: Has Vaio succeeded in putting a powerful H-series chip inside the thin and light body structure that is only available for U-series chips?

Literally, they succeeded. The computer works. And one more thing that I really appreciate is the battery life of this machine. On average, I achieved 6 hours and 57 minutes of battery life with continuous multi-tasking office tasks, 200 nit screen brightness, and the Windows Battery Saver option enabled. This battery life is much lower than the MacBook Pro line running the M1 chip, but the above figures are quite good for a chip of the H series.

However, in terms of processing power, the results obtained are quite mixed.

I ran some tests to see how this brand new chip performs against some of the most powerful thin and light PCs on the market today - specifically the MacBook Pro model with the M1 chip. Apple and Razer Book 13, one of the products using Intel's U-series Tiger Lake chip. Although these two models both weigh more than the Vaio Z, they are also half the price. As such, I was hoping the Vaio Z could outpace these models in terms of performance, especially when running heavy-duty tasks that were originally meant for the H.

The Vaio Z beat the Razer Book in the Adobe Premiere Pro video export test by less than a minute - no doubt a win, but not overwhelming to mention. More disappointingly, the Vaio Z lost to the MacBook Pro by the same amount of time on the same test. Apple's laptop also outperformed the Vaio Z in all other tests I ran with the exception of Cinebench's single-core test (which is also what I expected, since single-core performance is a bit of a stretch). something that Intel always emphasizes and is proud of when talking about this chip). And obviously, this is not a compelling reason for us to spend a few thousand more dollars to choose to buy Vaio Z, despite its impressive chassis design.

Another problem lies in the fact that the Vaio Z's 65W charger does not seem to meet the needs compared to the workload that we expect an H-series chip to do. In some tests of exporting video files with Adobe Premiere Pro software and some multi-core tests using Cinebench, the computer's battery drained even when plugged in (We didn't perform any other tasks while charging). running these tests). This can be a problem if you want to run high-performance tasks for a long time, especially if you don't start those tasks with a full battery. More importantly, it also means that the power capacity is limiting the performance of Vaio Z when running these tasks (Vaio replied that this is the company's purposeful design to ensure the charger the machine is compact and easy to move for users).

The bottom folding hinge is expected to provide a more convenient typing experience.
The bottom folding hinge is expected to provide a more convenient typing experience.

A commendable point that Z inherits from the Vaio laptop brand is the impressive heat dissipation ability for such a thin and light machine. Neither the main chassis nor the CPU ever reached worrisome temperatures. However, the pair of dual cooling fans creates a very loud noise when running heavy tasks, even when running lighter tasks, this situation is also encountered. My mom could even hear the fan running from the next room while the machine was outputting video with Premiere. She said she felt like the machine was like an airplane "about to take off".

To help "abundant" readers who are intending to spend money on this machine, I will go over some of the remaining specifications. It is worth noting that the keyboard has a backlight below, the key travel is 1.5mm. This keyboard can be said to be excellent - it is comfortable, smooth and does not make too much noise. The machine is equipped with a webcam with a physical shield to protect user privacy when needed. This webcam also supports the Windows Hello facial authentication system.

Vaio Vaio says it "aims to create a keyboard that's so comfortable that you feel as though every keystroke is entering your finger."biết hãng "nhắm đến tạo ra một bàn phím thoải mái đến mức bạn cảm giác như từng phím bấm đang nhập vào ngón tay bạn."
Vaio says it "aims to create a keyboard that's so comfortable that you feel as though every keystroke is entering your finger."

The charger has a capacity of 65W and weighs about 160g.
The charger has a capacity of 65W and weighs about 160g.

As for the sound, this machine delivers standard sound quality: impressively loud but without distortion; however, the sound of percussion and bass is almost inaudible. You can switch to movie mode "Movie Mode" or game mode "Gaming Mode" in the built-in Dolby Audio software; and I prefer listening to music in this mode. They help make the background music stand out from the vocals and surround sound quality is also clearer.

I wish this machine had a USB-A port

In terms of ports, the device is equipped with 2 USB Type-C ports (supporting Thunderbolt 4, power transmission and DisplayPort 1.4), a headphone jack, a security lock port and an HDMI port. Despite knowing that this machine doesn't have much room, I still wish it had a USB-A port. About the screen, the machine is equipped with a 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution screen without touch and a spacious magnetic touchpad (however, this magnetic mouse pad has two physical mouse buttons at the bottom. - a very unfortunate thing).

To sum up, I have two great opinions about the Vaio Z laptop: First, this is a machine with an extremely creative and impressive mechanical design; and two, the price of this machine is still too expensive.

Vaio's achievement when using carbon fiber to cover the machine is commendable. It is not easy to determine whether Vaio is really the first to adopt such a design. And having a 1.05 kg laptop on the shelf, not to mention the H-series processor inside, makes me optimistic about the future of the laptop market. This is a very enjoyable device to use, one that I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience first-hand.

But the performance that the Intel Core i7-11375H chip brings inside this shell is not groundbreaking enough to "justify" the price of thousands of dollars of the product, especially when there are many affordable devices. more on the market today, whether they use M1 chips, AMD chips or Intel's own chips. The carbon fiber surrounds aren't a reason to go all-in on the product either - the material is really interesting, but it probably won't offer any particular benefit to most customers. . If the price of this product is halved, then Vaio Z will be able to appear in our more realistic stories; but for $3,579, maybe I'll just be able to stand from afar and applaud for this product!

The Verge rated Vaio Z laptop (2021): 7/10 points

Advantages

  • Extremely light.
  • Equipped with 4K resolution screen.
  • Using carbon fiber material is quite strange and brings a special feeling.

Limit

  • Very expensive price.
  • There are not many connection ports.
  • The radiator fan is a bit noisy.
  • The chassis is not very sturdy.

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