CES 2010: Sony VAIO Z

  • Back-lit Keyboard
  • SSD
  • Dynamic Hybrid Graphics System
  • 13.1-inch 16:9 Wide HD Display
  • Carbon Fiber / Aluminum Chasis
  • 3G Mobile Broadband

The back-lit keyboard and SSD are probably standard features found in higher-end notebook PCs. 3G mobile broadband is thankfully via Verizon Wireless, which means you will not have to worry about whether you will be able to connect during CES 2011. Other connectivity options include: Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi ABGN and Bluetooth. The carbon fiber and aluminum chassis sounds high-tech but I think unibody is higher-tech: combine unibody and carbon fiber and now you’ve got my interest.

You can decide whether you want the faster NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS GPU with almost 2TB (yup, that’s 2010MB!) to do the working or the underpowered Intel’s GMA 4500MHD by sliding the triangular button up (Speed) or down (Stamina) but why? Just shove it to the right (Auto) and let Sony decide for you via its Dynamic Hybrid Graphics System. I’m fairly certain this does not require a logout/login procedure. Listening Apple?

I am rethinking display specs. Generally speaking the higher the total number of pixels the better, in my opinion. LED backlight is better than CCFL backlight for a number of reasons including instant-on, longevity, durability, and thinness. I prefer a 16:10 aspect ratio over 16:9 on my PC-related displays since I’d rather have more vertical pixels than less. But the most important element of a display is how it looks.

There are some objective specifications that point to a better-looking display but they aren’t definitive. For instance, viewing angles. The wider the display the better. Unfortunately most notebook PC display specifications will not state the viewing angles. And I know why: they are all dismal, with very few exceptions. It would be an awesome day when IPS returns to notebook LCDs.

A high contrast ratio is another spec that points to a good display but because of marketing folks this number is rendered almost useless. Instead of a single contrast ratio number I would like to see the contrast ratio at different viewing angles as that would tell me how the display is really performing. I don’t want to see contrast ratio quickly fall as I move away from center.

Most TVs and monitors have a color gamut of 72% NTSC and I would like to see that on notebook LCDs. Currently most notebook LCDs are around the 40% range while some brands have moved to 72% in their higher-end models.

The new VAIO Z sports a 13.1-inch LCD using LED backlight technology and a 1600 x 900 pixel format (16:9 aspect ratio). Starting at US$1799.99 I would assume the display would be of top quality, but unfortunately the specs do not tell me anything about how good the display really looks. (Full specifications can be found here.)