Vaio Z31

Ok, my new workhorse, Sony Vaio Z31WN has finally arrived. (Will post more about it after some test runs…)

Edit: here is a photo showing also the Z series dock:

22.05.2009

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland.

3 thoughts on “Vaio Z31”

  1. Ok, time for some notes. I am mostly rather positive about the new Vaio: it is light, rather powerful in terms of graphics (as far as mobiles go) and the display is very good. Thus, the main criteria for the work machine in my case are met. The keyboard is a bit different than the one Thinkpads have — I hesitate to say ‘better’, as the tactile feedback is not so bad in Sony, it is just that Thinkpads’ keyboards are generally considered as the best ones available. (T500 had loud, plastic clicking sounds though, so Thinkpads are not perfect, either.)

    I am missing dedicated PageUp/PageDown keys a bit; Vaio Z31 has those essential keys only available through Fn-key combos in the arrow keys. Another downside has been the Z series dock: this is clearly an area where Thinkpads have much longer history than Sony with their Vaios. The Z series dock is flimsy, the Ethernet connector does not lock the cable very securely, nor does the dock have any sound connectors (loudspeakers, microphone), so every time I plug in or unplug my laptop from the dock, I need to manually unplug also the loudspeaker cable from the headphone connector. That is not nice, I will probably stop plugging in the external loudspeakers for most of the day, just to stop the headphone connector from wearing out.

    Also, our PC support guy was surprised to find out that the dock had another, separate Ethernet card built into itself; that meant that the MAC address for my laptop had to be reconfigured into our domain controller twice. The most annoying thing so far has been the lack of proper display manager software: mostly when I plug or unplug from the dock, I need to go either to nVidia or Vista display settings and manually set the right resolution settings, as the laptop cannot remember them from the previous time. There might be a third party tool for this, but it would be nice for a PC of this calibre to have such essentials built in. Otherwise, it is very easy to like Z31, and I hope it will keep on running smoothly. Earlier today it appeared like I was stuck in some kind of infinite update loop where Windows Update started downloading and reinstalling the same upgrade file every time the machine was rebooted. Now I hope Vista finally sorted its brains out, it seems that some other people have been having similar problems with Microsoft update service lately.

    Now, I just need to order a spare power source; the Z series dock was shipped without it, which means that every time you go to the road you need to get behind the desk and unplug the power cable from the dock in order to have the power adapter and cable with you…

  2. More pluses and minuses: the fingerprint authentication system (TouchStrip by UPEK) used by Sony is much more faster and more responsive to use than the one used in Thinkpads. Also, it appears that you can get the Finnish operators SIM cards and ISP settings recognised by the 3G module (Gobi/Qualcomm); the “Everywair” WWAN tool however is limited to only few European operators, not a single operator from Finland is recognised.

  3. The issue of PC Pro Magazine that I bought today (#178) includes an “Ultimate Laptops” review, which Vaio Z31 won. In the full printed story they claim to have got nine hours, ten minutes of battery time in their “light use” test version from Z31, which is pretty amazing… I need to check my power settings; mostly I get only 3-4 hours. Here is link to the short, web version of the review:

    http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/253308/sony-vaio-vgn-z31vnx.html

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