One of the leaders in luxe laptops, a brand that Steve Jobs respected so much he even considered putting Mac OS X on it, is back. After splitting from Sony in 2014, Vaio is returning to U.S. shores with not one, but three new machines.
They're not the first Vaios since the split to launch in the U.S., but they are the first the man on the street might actually consider. The Z Canvas, which debuted in November 2015, is priced at an eye watering $2,199 for the base model. Its advanced color calibration tools, stylus mapping functions and fast processor make it a real beast for illustrators and graphic designers, but hold almost zero mass market appeal.
This time around, Vaio is mainly targeting general business users. The Z flip model is a premium laptop tablet hybrid that comes with a stylus, while the Z clamshell model is the Flip's slightly cheaper cousin that drops the tablet features. The S is the cheapest of the three, built for durability. Vaio made the S to even withstand shutting a pen inside the screen and forcing it closed.
All three have been designed with business professionals in mind to offer a premium experience . The keyboard has been tuned to reduce noise. The laptops are ultra thin while maintaining performance. Even the software, so often overlooked by hardware vendors, is sleek. Windows 10 signature edition is included with every model, which promises a clean experience free from bloatware. All ship with the latest Intel Skylake processors, 8GB RAM minimum, a 13.3-inch screen and a solid state drive.
Holding the Z flip, it's clear that this is the machine for people who crave that Vaio quality. The trackpad is made of mica mineral, the unique flipping mechanism keeps the keyboard protected, and the stylus' rubber grip makes this feel like a true machine for professionals. It's even slightly thinner than a MacBook Air at its thickest point.
The Z clamshell model is essentially the same laptop as the flip model, but without the touchscreen and stylus support. The flip model weighs 2.96 lbs and lasts up to 11 hours, 30 minutes on one charge, while the clamshell model is a tad lighter at 2.58 lbs and can run for about 15 hours and 30 minutes depending on the model. The flip version starts at $1,799, while the clamshell version starts at $1,499.
The S really isn't much of a looker, but it doesn't need to be. Aside from the durability, the S supports the sort of ports that other makers have long sent to the trashcan, things like Ethernet and VGA. The trackpad has two buttons instead of the trendy buttonless pad seen almost everywhere else. The battery lasts all day (up to 9 hours) and the machine is nice and light at 2.34 lbs. It's the laptop that takes the headache out of laptops, and it starts at $1,099.
The Z flip model will be available from February 8 through the Microsoft Store, Vaio and selected partners, while the S and the Z clamshell model will go on sale in early March.