In pictures: Sony VAIO VGN-Z16GN/B

Great specs, good looks

  • An optional port replicator can be purchased (VGP-PRZ1), which is convenient for hooking up an external monitor and input peripherals when you reach the office

  • Sony boasts of the 'no compromise' design of the Z-series, which means that features haven't been compromised despite the unit's small size. The right side has a DVD burner, as well as HDMI, USB and D-Sub ports. You can also see the spine of the laptop, which is cylindrical and houses the power button.

  • At the rear of the unit there aren't any ports, and you can see the unit's clean lines. The 6-cell battery doesn't protrude from the body, although the optional 9-cell does stick out a little.

  • The left side is where the cooling vent resides; it made hardly any noise during the short time we played with the laptop. Sony has redesigned the fan in an effort to eradicate audio frequencies that could be annoying. Near the cooling fan sits the Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 CPU, which runs at 2.4GHz and is built using Intel's 45 nanometre-sized transistors. The laptop runs DDR3 memory instead of DDR2; it's more expensive but offers better throughput and uses slightly less electricity. You probably can't see the concealed ExpressCard/34 slot and 56Kbps modem and Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are also on the left side of the unit, but the USB 2.0, FireWire and audio ports are visible.

  • Another impressive feature of the unit is its screen, which is bright and produces rich colours, as well as excellent viewing from all angles. It's an LED-based screen and it's only a few millimetres thick. The laptop has two graphics chips built in, either one of which can be used to drive the screen. This feature is called Dynamic Graphics, and it allows the user to switch from the integrated Intel graphics to the discrete NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS graphics at the press of a button (you don't need to restart). This is useful for when you need the extra processing power at work but want to conserve energy while on the road.

  • Sony is in the process of rolling out its latest series of laptops for executives: the VAIO Z-series. It's based on Intel's Centrino 2 technology, and we were lucky enough to get a hands-on look at the VGN-Z16GN/B, which is the 13.1in model in the range — and it's a beauty! It's a 2.4GHz laptop with 2GB of DDR3 memory, dynamic graphics and a 250GB hard drive, so it's definitely no slouch.

  • The unit is only 3.3cm thick at its thickest point (at the rear) and weighs only 1.5kg with its 6-cell battery. The screen is latch-less and the front of the unit has an SD/MS card slot, as well as a wireless networking toggle switch.

  • The one-piece aluminium sheet that forms the palm-rest has a curve in it. Apart from looking elegant, this means the keyboard sits in a recessed, ergonomic position for typing.

  • On the underside there is a dock connector. You can also see the access panel for the RAM. The laptop has two slots and can accommodate up to 4GB. Beneath the surface, Sony has designed a high-density motherboard that fits neatly around the hard drive and optical drive. It means that the CPU, graphics and system chipsets are all located in the same area on the left side of the unit.

  • The body of the unit is made from carbon fibre (the lid and base) and aluminium (the keyboard panel), so it should withstand the pressures of everyday travelling, as well as the odd bump or knock at home or in the office. Sony says it should also be able to withstand a fall from 90cm. It comes with a one year warranty and international service.

  • It doesn't have an average keyboard, either. The isolated keys are very comfortable to use and they have been implemented especially for women with long nails. The space around the keys means that nails won't get stuck or chipped in between key crevices

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