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Published On: Tue, Feb 12th, 2013
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Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X – Too expensive

VAIO Z is the most expensive line up of Sony Vaio laptop range and Sony doesn’t make a lot of them since they are damn costly. It starts from $2,000 and can go up according to the components inside.

When the first iteration of this VAIO Z came out in 2011, it immediately grabbed attention due to its ultrathin looks. It was made to compete with Samsung Series 9 and Apple MacBook Air.     Sony went one step ahead by putting in separate dock station inside which had extra connections and ports. There was also fast AMD Radeon graphic card and optical drive with Blu-ray upgrade option.

However, a lot has changed since 2011. There has been a lot of ultrabooks coming in the market which have similar thin design and small 13 inch displays. They also have SSD drives and fast Core i5 chips. These thin notebooks have a starting price of $799 and some go past $1000 depending on the components inside. This is where Sony VAIO loses, it has starting price of $1,649 and goes past whooping $3,000. My review model cost $1,999.

Build quality and design of this laptop are excellent and it feels really sturdy and solid. We only had one grip, the touchpad which is too small as compared to clickpads on ultrabooks.

There is GPU standalone dock which is unique and it is made for people who are looking for ultra book like laptop which is capable of playing serious games. However, apart from all this, this notebook is too expensive and it will only attract CEOs who want to show others how important they are.

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X Features

Design

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X has black, slim carbon fibre body and the rest of this laptop is unchanged from its predecessor. It still has black matte finish and slate like chassis to make it look high end. However, this laptop does feel clunky at few places. For instance, Sony offers slice battery as an option. There are 2 separate power jacks and only bigger one fits in to docking station. The cable for connecting it is quite stiff and short. You won’t be able to place this dock too long from the laptop.

Keyboard

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X keyboard has flat topped design and it is island styled keyboard. We have seen this design on earlier Sony Vaio laptops. Due to the thin design of the laptop, actual keyboard buttons are shallow. You will eventually get used to this over a period of time but this design isn’t good if you are going to type for a long time. Fortunately, there is backlighting for this keyboard.

Price

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X price starts from $1,999 and it goes up according to the components inside. My review model was priced at $1,649.

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X Price

Touchpad

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X touchpad is good but it is smaller as compared to ultrabooks. There is subtle pattern on smaller pad with non-textured zones for mouse buttons. There is finger print reader separating the 2 mouse buttons. Bigger bad would have been better but still multi touch gestures like 2 finger scrolling worked well on this laptop.

Display

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X comes with native resolution of 1,600×900 and this is a 13.1 inches screen. When I tested a Vaio Z some time ago, it had upgrade 1,920×1,080 pixels upgrade option. However, on such a resolution on a screen of this size would look small and hard to read. Sony Vaio is still offering it here for $100 more but I won’t recommend it.

Audio

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X review says that this laptop comes with Dolby Home Theater technology inside. The quality is good but for serious audio or video watching, we would recommend using headphones or external speakers.

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X

Power Media Dock

Sony’s docking station is called Power Media Dock and it is offered as standard equipment with this laptop even on the basic model. This dock consumes the USB 3.0 port on this system and dock has another USB 3.0 port. Both laptop and dock come with VGA and HDMI ports.

Upgrades

My review model wasn’t a base model; it was upgraded version and had Windows Professional which costs $50 more. Blu-ray optical drive on external dock will cost $50 more, extra battery costs $150. Processor can be upgraded to Intel Core i7-2640M for $250 more and you can opt for bigger 256GB SSD (in lieu of 128GB) for $200 more. There is 512GB option as well for $1,100. 3G and 4G antennas are offered for $50 and $150 more respectively. It is hard to see a lot of configurations options outside gaming machines range and hence Sony should be praised for giving such flexibility.

Processor

In my performance tests, the Intel Core i5-2450M processor inside gave me good performance and it was as good as the other 14 or 13 inches laptops having same CPUs inside. This is the default processor used in a lot of mid or high end notebooks. It has enough power for juggling multiple tasks.

Graphics

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X doesn’t come with a high end GPU inside. It just relies on HD 3000 common graphics card inside. This GPU is standard for any Intel powered notebook in the market. I played some HD videos and they ran well. However, the gaming performance isn’t good.

The dock has AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card and it runs just like internal GPU. I played Street Fighter IV with 1,600×900 pixels resolution and it gave me 15.5 fps with internal GPU and 30 fps with AMD GPU.

Battery

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X battery was better than its predecessor. In my tests, it stayed alive for more than five hours. This battery life is also better as compared to ultrabooks like Acer Aspire S3 and Lenovo U300s. However, Samsung Series 9 and Apple 13 inches MacBook Air are better. However, if you use the secondary battery as well, then you will get impressive battery life of almost ten and half hours.

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X Review

Service

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X comes with one year industry standard warranty. For a higher price tag, I expected better battery life. There is an option to upgrade to 2 years plan for extra $179 or three years for $249. There is 24-7 support offered through toll free telephone line. There is the manufacturer’s Website for driver downloads and knowledge base. I went through the support sites, they are pretty clean and user friendly. However, you may find it hard to locate information on your specific laptop.

Conclusion

Sony VAIO Z series VPC-Z390X is an impressive laptop with all the bells and whistles like GPU external dock. However, it is too expensive and especially with ultrabooks lurking around at $999, it makes no sense to get this laptop.

Specifications

  • 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-2450M processor
  • 4 GB, 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM
  • 128 GB SSD
  • Intel HM 65 chipset
  • Intel HD 3000 graphics
  • Windows 7 Professional OS (64-bit)
  • 3.6 pounds weight with adapter
  • Farhad K

    I own one :D
    I love it

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