The previously import-only Vaio TZ was just announced for US shores. That's good news, because its predecessor, the Sony Vaio TX, was one of my favorites subnotes ever. Like the TX, I love the TZ's LED-backlit screen, usable keyboard, built- in EVDO Rev. A by Sprint, and nearly 8 hours of battery life. The TZ's improvements include Core 2 Duo Chips, a Macbook-like keyboard, better specs all around, and a Limited Edition Carbon Fiber model in jet black. Here's a quick rundown of how the TZ's design and specs stack up against the older TX.
•It becomes a hair thinner, but reaches deeper than the TX. For practical purposes it is the same size. It's 2.7 pounds, compared to 2.8 from before. I wonder if that comes at the expense of battery life (more later.)
•It gains a gappy, Macbook-styled keyboard, which is reinforced for when you're pounding on the keys.
•The screen is still LED-backlit, 11-inch 1366 x 768. But the carbon fiber lid is also reinforced to protect the LCD, and it has a user-facing webcam running at 0.3MP.
•LCD catch 22: It's so sharp, you want to get closer to read text. When you get too close, your viewing angle naturally increases, so the edges of the screen start to color differently than the center.
•It still has EVDO revision A by Sprint, but loses the external antenna which often broke anyway, and gains N on top of WiFi A/B/G.
•The TX's Core Solo U1500 processor gets upgraded to a Core 2 Duo U7500. Or in the jet black Limited Edition TZ, a U7600 at 1.2GHz. (On top of 32GB of SSD instead of a HDD, for $3000.)
•The limited edition also has a clear gel coat of paint, which shows off the carbon fiber beneath the surface. Very cool.
•Unfortunately, battery life is rated at 7.5 hours vs the 10 hours in the TX. (Contradicting that stat, later the press materials say 11.5). I'd like to know the truth—my favorite memories of the TX involve almost 8 hours of straight EV-DO trapped on Route 80 during a Tahoe snowstorm.
•Good lord. It comes preloaded with tons of craplets. One piece of ware is a locationfree TV client, to coincide with a VAIO-branded, component input base station I will tell you about in a later post. As far as craplets go, this is a screenshot of first boot. I kid you not.
•Video is handled by the same Intel 945GMS integrated chipset, with a VGA out for a secondary monitor.
•The media controller, which could play back DVDs/CDs/photos without Windows is now able to run MP3s from the drive, and presumably memory stick. The media keys are on the front face of the device, and the fingerprint reader is in between the mouse buttons. These last two changes are bad.
•There is an ExpressCard/34 slot now. But there are SD and memory card readers, 2 USB ports, Ethernet (now Gigabit), modem, and a 4-pin FireWire port, like before. I would beg for an HDMI port.
•The touchpad has a textured, rubbery feel that gives good tactile feedback without catching your finger. I love it.
•The power button is, unwisely, on the side of the hinge, putting it in a prime spot for accidental clicks as you move things around the desk or grip the laptop for movement.
•The hard drive, as before, has head drive parking when it detects an impending shock.
•The "DVD±R Double Layer/DVD±RW" drive is tray loading, like before. The non-Special Edition models come with 100GB 4200RPM HDDs.
•There are 3 models. The VGN-TZ150N/B and VGN-TZ170N/B are identical, except the 150 comes with 1GB of RAM versus the 170's 2GB of RAM. Both come in silver, black, and purplish-red. The VGN-TZ191N/X comes in that clear gel coating that shows off the carbon fiber underneath, and again, has 32GB of SSD, and a faster U7600 Core 2 Duo chip running at 1.2GHz. Death to Sony's naming schemes!
SONY'S LATEST ULTRA-PORTABLE VAIO NOTEBOOK TURNS HEADS WHILE TURNING UP PRODUCTIVITY
SAN DIEGO, July 18, 2007 ⎯ Sony today took the wraps off a new line of richly-designed, high-performance ultra-portable notebooks.
The VAIO® TZ model incorporates the power of a larger PC into a small, portable form factor. Luxuriously sleek, it weighs just 2.65 pounds and measures less than 1-inch thin.
The notebook is available in a classic black, premium carbon, champagne gold, and hand-painted Bordeaux. The unit has a carbon-fiber casing that contributes to its light weight, extra-slim figure and durability.
The model incorporates an energy-efficient 11.1-inch widescreen display (diagonal) with Sony's original XBRITE-HiColor™ LCD technology, producing images in brilliant detail for razor-sharp viewing on-the-go.
"Sony is known for miniaturization and being an innovator in design, but this time we have really out done ourselves," said Mike Abary, senior vice president of VAIO product marketing at Sony Electronics. "This new notebook is an engineering marvel that I believe is one of the best looking PCs on the market."
Designed for ease-of-use, the keyboard's keys are raised slightly above an attractive piano-black bezel layer producing a user-friendly touch. An extra support layer has been added to increase the stability of the keys, giving them an unwavering motion for quieter typing.
Mobility and Performance
The notebook packs the latest Intel® Core™ 2 Duo ultra-low processor designed for high performance and low power consumption— perfect for advanced multi-tasking, and four to 7.5 hours of standard battery life on a single charge.
The unit's built-in 802.11n wireless LAN capabilities make it faster and easier to connect to compatible wireless networks with greater performance and range. Whether surfing the web at the office or a local coffee shop, you can connect to compatible hot spots with greater ease and wirelessly stream video at high speeds.
The PC also integrates a wireless Wide Area Network (WAN) technology provided by the Sprint® Mobile Broadband Network and its latest mobile network technology, EV-DO Revision A. A separate Sprint service subscription is required.
This technology supports faster data rates than Release 0 and higher system capacity enabling users to send and receive large amounts of data at broadband speeds. These faster speeds will enable customers to take advantage of large file uploads, video telephony and video messaging for blazing-fast wireless access beyond hotspots.
The new notebook features integrated Bluetooth® technology for wireless communication with compatible Bluetooth-enabled devices. Sony's SmartWi™ technology has also been added for a seamless experience navigating between wireless WAN, wireless LAN and Bluetooth technologies.
An optional MOTION EYE® camera with a microphone built into the razor-thin LCD panel lets you video conference with colleagues, families and friends. It requires a broadband connection and VoIP services sold separately.
For security, an integrated biometrics fingerprint sensor has been added so you can access password protected content with the touch of a finger. The PC comes pre-installed with the Microsoft® Windows Vista® Business operating system.
The TZ unit also comes loaded with LocationFree® software. This allows you to "place-shift" live television broadcasts, access a personal video recorder or DVD player, and view that content on your notebook via the Internet with broadband connectivity. A new VAIO-branded LF-V30 base station, with enhanced functionality, is required and will be sold separately starting in September.
The notebook is equipped with Instant Mode so you can go straight to watching a movie, playing music or viewing photos at the touch of a button— without having to boot-up the operating system.
The included Click to DVD® software and DVD±R Double Layer/DVD±RW drive can be used to create customized DVDs, dynamic presentations and manage multimedia files.
A flash-based model will also be available. This unit will provide a rapid boot-up and quicker access to applications, while reducing the risk of hard drive damage—an ideal feature for travelers in situations where sudden movements are common.
The standard VAIO TZ notebook will start at about $2,200, while the flash-based model will go for around $3,000. Both models will be available online at HYPERLINK "http://www.sony.com/pr/tz" www.sony.com/pr/tz. They will also be sold at Sony Style® stores, military exchange bases and select retailers around the country beginning in August