Sony’s New Vaio Z: Core i7, External GPU, Light Peak

Sony’s slim 13.1-inch Vaio Z was one of our favourite laptops in 2010, and this year’s model looks like a cracker, too. And that accessory next to it? Sony’s calling it the Power Media Dock—it connects via a hybrid Light-Peak-based USB 3.0 port to provide 1GB AMD Radeon 6650M graphics, HDMI and VGA output and a Blu-ray drive.

On its own, the 1.2kg machine’s Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip provides an on screen resolution of 1600x900 (though 1920x1080 also looks to be an optional extra). The Z also packs in a 2.7GHz Core i7-2620M processor, 8GB DDR3 memory, and 256GB solid state drive for quick booting into Windows 7.

The standard battery will get you about 7 hours of use, but you can double that with the optional sheet battery that goes underneath the laptop (as seen on the Vaio S).

Elsewhere, you get the usual mix of specs like a USB 2.0 port, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, 1.3-megapixel Webcam, fingerprint reader and built-in stereo speakers.

Officially announced only in Europe at the moment, the low-end version of the Vaio Z starts at £1,434 (around $2,200 Australian). I’ve dropped a note to Sony Australia, so stay tuned for local pricing and availability. [Sony Europe and Sony Style UK]

Press Release Excerpt:

Power Media Dock™

The performance of VAIO Z Series is taken to new extremes by the unique Power Media Dock2, a monolithic expansion module that links with VAIO via an optical cable. The proprietary port can also be used to attach regular USB devices to VAIO when it’s not docked.

Featuring high-speed I/O data transfer based on the architecture codenamed ‘Light Peak’, Power Media Dock boosts graphics performance while adding numerous extra connectivity options. It includes an optical drive for even greater business productivity and satisfying HD entertainment. The module comes supplied with a stylish design-matched stand.

With Power Media Dock added, VAIO Z can manage up to four displays (including the notebook screen) via HDMI™ and/or VGA output ports. In this configuration, VAIO Z makes a compelling choice for design, finance and science professionals who need to work across several screens simultaneously. New-generation AMD Radeon HD graphics with 1GB VRAM effortlessly handle demanding graphics tasks, from 3D CAD to gaming.

When docked, connectivity options are boosted by additional USB ports plus VGA and HDMI outputs. Power Media Dock also sports an optical drive bay that can be specified with a Blu-ray Disc™ or SuperMulti combo drive. Games and movies on DVD or Blu-ray Disc sound as good as they look with latest Dolby® Home Theater® v4.

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