New Laptop – Sony Z Series

The last two months have been pretty hectic for me… new job, new residence, new country/continent/hemisphere.

When we moved I packed all my desktop computers (dev box, HTPC, Home Server and son’s PC) into storage. This means for the last two months I’ve been using my Fujitsu tablet PC for all my computing requirements, occasionally also resorting to my HP mini notebook.

The plan was to purchase a desktop PC when we got settled in – something powerful enough to by a good dev box and occasional gaming. However – two things quickly became apparent to me. Firstly – purchasing computer hardware in the US is not as convenient as I first imagined.

  • Online delivery times for most sites (including Dell and Sony) were measured in weeks – I want next day delivery!
  • It’s nowhere near as cheap as I had hoped – especially when you always need to add taxes
  • Laptops are cheaper to buy than desktops once you include screens, keyboards, wireless etc. Of course this point is debatable based on your requirements.

My requirements were:

  • I5 or I7 processor
  • Minimum 4Gb RAM
  • Dedicated mid-range graphics card
  • Dual monitor – with at least one 1920 x 1080 display

Nice to have:

  • 120+ Gb SSD drive
  • Wireless N

The desktops I priced that matched these requirements were priced around $1200. Too expensive! I deliberated for two weeks, trying to find cheaper alternatives – including building a machine from components (which is how I normally buy desktop PCs) and then finally gave up. Figuring I was going to have to spend that kind of money I decided to look at higher end laptops that offered equivalent power. Eventually I settled on the new Sony Z Series together with a cheap 24 inch screen.

 

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Pros

  • Light – seriously light – much lighter than my Tablet PC – 3 lbs / 1.3kg
  • I5 processor
  • Dual graphics – dedicated when you need it then drops back automatically to use integrated for lower power use
  • Wireless N / Bluetooth
  • Reasonable battery life – 5 hours
  • SSD drive is awesome
  • Comes with a really nice set of active noise cancelling bud-style headphones
  • Keyboard looks gimmicky – but actually works really well, has a really solid feel, possibly the best laptop keyboard I’ve used. This was really quite a surprise.
  • Ambient light detector used to automatically set screen brightness (and optionally backlights keyboard) – works really well in our dimly lit apartment or when working near a window during the day.
  • HDMI connection to 1920 x 1080 monitor – including sound (though the monitor I bought has ridiculously terrible speakers).

Cons

  • Doesn’t read original memory sticks – it has a MagicGate slot – presumable only takes the Duo format?
  • Its expensive when you can get a lot of reasonable laptops for around half the price.

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