The Sony VAIO Z series was Sony's top-of-the-line laptop range that was originally introduced in 2003. The VPCZ1 was released in 2010, and is the third main refresh of the Z series.
They were built very well, with carbon fiber, aluminium and plastic, and had the iconic cylinder power button design unique to VAIOs. Two color options were offered, black/gray, and silver, silver being slightly rarer today. Two different lid styles were also offered. The lid on higher-end (Premium) models have more of a carbon fiber look than lower-end VPCZ1s (similar to glossy VAIO SVZ models, without being glossy). We do not know if the lower-end models have a carbon fiber lid, but we are sure the Premium ones do.
The VPCZ1 was one of the first VAIO laptops to feature 1st Gen Intel Core CPUs, which was a significant upgrade over Core 2 Duo CPUs. It also received a GPU upgrade, as its predecessor, the VGN-Z, had an NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS GPU, and people wanted better. That's why Sony included an NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M, which is a big upgrade, but still a mid-range card (see Daily Usage Today section for more information). They offered lightning fast Quad-SSDs running in RAID, or a standard SATA HDD for lower-end models, which took the space of the optical drive.
One of the VPCZ1's selling points was the Dynamic Hybrid Graphics System (DHGS), which allowed you to switch from the Intel GMA to the dedicated GPU, without needing to restart the computer. There was also an automatic system which would select the best GPU depending on your current needs.
The screens on the 1080p VPCZ1 models are excellent. They look stunning and very sharp, and have a good color space. The backlit keyboard is also excellent, it has a very good feel, and typing on it for hours on end is a pleasing experience. They also included a webcam and an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adjustments for both the backlit keyboard and the display. Battery life was good, with around 4h 17min of Wi-Fi surfing in Stamina mode (as tested by NotebookCheck).
A sore spot for the VPCZ1 are the speakers. They are woefully underdeveloped for what was Sony's compact flagship. The problem, however, can be easily solved with headphones, both wired and wireless, since the Z1 included Bluetooth.
Processor: Intel Core i5-520M or i7-620M (soldered), other markets also offer i5-540M and i7-640M
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M (1GB VRAM, core downclocked to 475MHz) and Intel GMA HD Graphics
Memory: DDR3-1333 (max 8GB), 2 slots
Storage: 4x 1.8" LIF SSDs (one module is 2 SSDs, 2 modules installed), or 2.5" SATA for HDD models (uses optical drive space, no 2.5" SATA on SSD models)
Display: 1600x900 or 1920x1080 13.1" LED backlit LCD panel
Weight: around 1.4 kg
Daily Usage Today
The VPCZ1 series of laptops are still very usable today. Office tasks, web browsing, and even light gaming is very doable on these machines. Watching videos, especially on the models with the 1080p display, is a wonderful experience, if you don't mind the terrible speakers. The GPU is a bit downclocked, but it still can play some light or older games.
The VPCZ1 is a great laptop to buy used today to get into the VAIO madness, or simply to have a good, powerful enough device with a stunning design you can carry with you every day. These devices are worth quite a lot now, you can expect to pay around +300€ for a Premium model, but sometimes, cheaper ones pop up.
This section is in WIP.
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