Sony has introduced a new VAIO Z laptop in Europe to rival Apple's MacBook Air slenderness. Sony's new carbon fiber laptop is not only thinner and lighter than the Air, but also packs a punch in the specs department.
The European version of the VAIO Z has a 13.1-inch high-resolution (1600 by 900 pixels) display (16:9 aspect ratio), a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.40GHz, 8GB or SDRAM) and a 256GB SSD drive, all in a 16.65mm thick chassis, which is just a hair thinner than the MacBook Air's 17mm thickness. The Vaio Z is also 2.64 pounds, compared to the Air's 2.91 pounds.
Other features inside the VAIO Z include Wi-Fi, optional 3G, a backlit keyboard (something the MacBook Air is notably missing), a 1.3-megapixel webcam, and HDMI out. The laptop comes preloaded with 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the VAIO Z is the optional external dock, which connects to the laptop via Intel's Light Peak technology, more commonly known as Thunderbolt -- found in new iMacs, MacBook Pros. The port however uses a proprietary interface and a USB 3.0 socket to connect to other compatible accessories.
The dock, which will be sold separately, boosts the graphics performance of the laptop, from the built-in Intel HD Graphics 3000 to an AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card with 1GB of RAM, capable of supporting up to four monitors. The dock also has HDMI, VGA, USB.20 and 3.0 ports, and a Blu-ray optical drive.
Sony claims up to 7 hours of battery life on the VAIO Z, which can be extended to around 14 hours via an optional sheet battery that can be charged separately from the PC and added without removing the internal battery.
Sony Europe said the VAIO Z should be available in Europe in July, but did not specify an exact availability and pricing. Early indications, however, show that the Vaio Z won't come cheap. The laptop is now available to preorder in the UK, where it costs the equivalent of $1,835 (the dock for around $512). The most expensive off-the-shelf 13-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,600. No U.S. model, specs, availability, or price have yet been announced.