Print 22 comment(s) - last by Qapa.. on Jun 30 at 8:30 AM

Sony VAIO Z with Power Media Dock

Sony VAIO Z and its "sheet battery"

Back end of VAIO Z Power Media Dock
Sony's VAIO Z uses Intel "Light Peak" technology to pair with an external GPU

Apple may turn a few heads with its ultra-thin, and ultra-light MacBook Air notebooks (which are available in 11" and 13" varieties), but Sony is going for the throat with its latest VAIO Z notebook. Sony, as usual, is packing in about as much technology as it can muster into a slim and sleek package. 

While Apple can only manage to cram dusty old Core 2 Duo processors into its current MacBook Air (granted, a refresh is on the way), Sony is going full-tilt with an Intel Core i7-2620M processor running at 2.7GHz -- Turbo Boost ups the ante to 3.4GHz if you need some extra performance for more demanding applications. Also included are 8GB of DDR3 memory, a 256GB SSD, a 13.3" display (1600x900), and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU.

The VAIO Z uses a sheet battery design that was introduced with the VAIO S Series. The lithium-polymer design provides up to 7 hours of battery life -- a second sheet battery can be added to boost battery life to a more impressive 14 hours. 

In its base configuration, the VAIO Z weighs in at a respectable 2.65 pounds.

Where things start getting interesting, however, is with the VAIO Z's Power Media Dock. The Power Media Dock features an integrated AMD Radeon HD 6650M GPU with 1GB of DDR3 memory, an HDMI port, VGA-out, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, GbE, and a DVD SuperMulti Drive (VGP-PRZ20C) or Blu-ray Drive with SuperMulti (VGP-PRZ20A). The Power Media Dock connects to the VAIO Z using Intel's Light Peak technology

The Power Media Dock adds 1.51 pounds to the overall package.

Sony will begin shipping the VAIO Z and its accompanying Power Media Dock in Europe next month. However, there's currently no indication of when the pair will make the trip to North America or how much it will cost when it arrives.

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By Spuke on 6/28/2011 12:50:09 AM , Rating: 0
I find this use of Light Peak VERY compelling especially if manufacturers offered GPU upgrades for these external units. Meaning if I wanted say a AMD 7xxx series GPU (if they call their next gen that) or maybe a Quadro for CAD work, I could just buy another Power Dock or equivalent.

RE: Hmmm
By StevoLincolnite on 6/28/2011 12:55:50 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, because these are not in a universal form factor and supported by a heap of different manufacturers... Expect it to be high priced and hard to find just like MXM/AXIOM cards were.

RE: Hmmm
By corduroygt on 6/28/2011 4:05:43 AM , Rating: 2
They could have easily done it. Ever heard of vidock?

RE: Hmmm
By quiksilvr on 6/28/2011 9:53:36 AM , Rating: 2
I'm already seeing problems with this Power dock. Why isn't it using the standard Thunderbolt connection?

RE: Hmmm
By KC7SWH on 6/28/2011 10:19:08 AM , Rating: 4
Because then you wouldn't need to buy an over priced cable from Sony.

RE: Hmmm
By Souka on 6/28/2011 11:25:37 AM , Rating: 2
This reminds me of my laptop setup about a decade ago.

IBM ThinkPad 600X (powerful Pentium 3 processor) with a whopping 1 or 2mb video card.

It had a full docking station... 5.25" & 3.5" bay plus the real treat...pci and ISA slots.

I had a top of the line TNT PCI (gaming) card...perfect for playing unreal tournament at work. hehehhe.

Was nice being able to play against desktops the developers had...

RE: Hmmm
By bunnyfubbles on 6/28/2011 3:36:20 AM , Rating: 4
agreed, I was intrigued with the previous Z series because it included discrete nVidia GPU, which while nothing particularly powerful, was at least useful for CUDA apps.

since this is clearly not a gaming-on-the-go laptop due to the lack of a discrete GPU, its also a shame that the included AMD GPU in the dock isn't substantially more powerful (should be at least a mobile 6800 or 6900) to make this a more legitimate gaming laptop when docked. Subpar for serious work and play, although still excellent overall for ultra portability.

RE: Hmmm
By superPC on 6/28/2011 10:06:32 AM , Rating: 4
but look at that price ( ). i can buy a car that's cheaper than that.

RE: Hmmm
By DanNeely on 6/28/2011 7:03:28 AM , Rating: 2
The catch is that while 8x or even 4x PCIe doesn't have a significant impact on GPU performance lightpeak is only 1x, and that's slow enough to hurt performance a lot. A year or two ago on [H]ocp when someone was playing around with an external box that plugged into a miniPCIe slot it was about 33% average framerate hit (worse for texture intensive games, less so for shader intensive ones).

It's a step in the right direction, but even if you can buy LP enclosures that hold desktop cards you're still going to be taking a rather large hit.

RE: Hmmm
By Parhel on 6/28/2011 8:46:21 AM , Rating: 2
The catch for me is no multi-monitor support. I have a docking station set up with two monitors both at home and at the office, and work with my laptop docked unless I'm travelling. I know this isn't a business class machine, but it would be a dealbreaker for me, especially since I suspect the GPU supports Eyefinity. It's a great idea, though, and I hope to see it improved upon.

RE: Hmmm
By DanNeely on 6/28/2011 9:18:00 AM , Rating: 2
I see two video outs. I'd prefer both to be digital, but below 1080p analog is perfectly serviceable.

RE: Hmmm
By MrTeal on 6/28/2011 10:13:56 AM , Rating: 2
According to the engadget link, the chief designer claims that the media dock can output video to four monitors simultaneously. That should be enough for anything you plan to do with a 6650M.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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