in Hardware

Sony Vaio Z Series

I’m lusting after the new Sony Vaio Z Series which doesn’t come out in the US until mid-August, and I’ve no idea when it comes out in the UK.  Annoyingly, while the US site allows you to configure your system from scratch – including putting in dual solid state drives – Sony UK limit us to choosing from three prescribed models, none of which contain quite the match of processor and storage I’m looking for.

I know that in the US store the model I’ve specced will cost in the region of $3600 – about 1800 quid at the moment – which doesn’t seem unreasonable for a machine with such an array of features:

  • Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor P9500 (2.53GHz)
  • 4 GB DDR3-SDRAM (DDR3-1066, 2GBx2)
  • 64 GB Solid State Drive
  • DVD±R DL / DVD±RW / DVD-RAM Drive
  • LCD 13.1″ (XBRITE-DuraView) 1600×900
  • Combined Intel integrated graphics plus NVidia for (low demand) games
  • Wireless LAN (802.11a/b/g/n) with integrated Bluetooth® technology
  • Integrated Wireless Wide Area Network (that’s 7.2Mbps 3G)
  • Gigabit Ethernet, Biometric Fingerprint Sensor

There’s no telling what the actual UK price will be for the device closest to my desired spec, the VGN-Z11VN/B, which differs only by the replacement of the SSD with a 5400rpm 320GB drive.  Given the amount of storage I have at home, I’d rather have the benefit of no moving parts and the (possibly unverified) reduction in heat and power consumption than such large amounts of portable storage.  Also the UK site is listing DDR2 memory rather than DDR3, I hope that’s a typo and not indicative of some cost cutting exercise.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to spec the SSD and a BluRay drive at the same time, so I’ll settle for a dual layer DVD writer instead.  Assuming that is, I can get hold of an SSD configured machine in the UK.  I may have to import one, which raises ugly warranty issues I’d rather avoid.  That said, another advantage to buying an American specced machine is that they give you the option to remove all the usual cruft that Sony install on their laptops – all the free trials and demos of software you’ll never actually use.  They call this service “Fresh Start” and it seems that the UK division have yet to be hit with that particular clue-bat, as they list this little lot under installed software:

  • Windows Media Player 11
  • WinDVD 8.0 for VAIO
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 6
  • Google Picasa
  • Easy Media Creator 9
  • Adobe® Reader® 8.1
  • Adobe Standard 8
  • Microsoft® Office Ready 2007 (60 days Try & Buy)
  • McAfee Internet Security Suite (with 60 days free virus updates)
  • VAIO Recovery Utility – HDD recovery (hidden partition)
  • Protector Suite QL 5

Granted, I’d be installed Acrobat Reader and Writer myself, but the rest of it?  Pfft.  I’ll bring my own full copy of Office 2007 thank you.  And the day I let a McAfee Internet “Security” Suite anywhere near my system is the day I stop caring about usable computers.  Oh yes, and the “VAIO Recovery Utility”?  That sounds like a way to use up my disc space while saving Sony the cost and bother of shipping me optical media with my Operating System on it.  Grrr. :@

Speaking of the OS, I may have to play the downgradable licence game and see if they’re going to support XP on the device, rather than Vista.  Time for a call to Sony to find out what’s going to happen come August…