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Macbook Air vs. Sony Vaio Z - anyone?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by soph, May 4, 2010.

  1. macrumors regular

    I'm a longtime lurker, so I'm quite familiar with every tiny little aspect of updates or no updates and hardware specs of the MBA vs the Sony Vaio Z.

    Way back when the updates of the Macbook Pros were announced someone said people would now rush over to Sony for a new Vaio Z. - So, has anybody done this and can tell of the experience?

    I'm looking for the non-technical stuff. The things you rarely read in quick reviews. Yes, I know by numbers the Vaio Z is way in front. This I can find online easy enough.

    What I would like to read is long-time experience (say, upwards a week for each ;-) ), and what differences you found between the Vaio Z and the MBA.

    I'm looking for useability. Reviews say the screen backside of the Vaio Z feels flimsy and bends, and the handrest and underside feels like plain plastic. Is this true, especially compared to the MBA?

    What else is there: Fan noise. Ergonometry (I very much like the tapered design so the handrest ist so very low, and though I haven't tried the Vaio Z yet it looks plain old brick-y and thus very uncomfortably). The difference the trackpad makes. The difference the screen resolution really makes. Everything you can come up with.
  2. macrumors member

    To me it all comes down to operating systems.

    I switched to Mac portables ten years ago out of frustration with Windows, and nothing I've seen since from Windows has tempted me back. In fact every time I am called upon to use a machine with windows for even a few hours I get a little nauseous.

    I am a writer and for a writer who doesn't mind Windows there are other great three-pound options. The Thinkpad keyboard is unsurpassed, and there are several models now weighing in around three pounds with good screens and good or better battery life. But I won't go back until I can run OS X on it, or there is a version of Linux that would be as easy to install and use.
  3. macrumors regular


  4. macrumors demi-god


  5. macrumors 68000


    That was a very interesting thread. I agree with the conclusion reached by the thread starter: despite the power and incredibly light weight of the Vaio Z, OS X remains the superior OS, so he returned the Z to the Sony Style Store and kept the 15 inch MBP. CAVEAT: I am a Mac nerd of long standing, so take the foregoing for what it's worth.
  6. macrumors 65816

    Sony make fantastic products, except when it comes to computers - then it's just another PC manufacturer.

    to compare Sony Vaio running Winders with an Air running Snow Leopard?
    2 words:
    Sh*t v Style
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Man and I thought that this was going to be an actual review
  8. macrumors demi-god


    It's interesting, if you read to the end of the thread now he went back and bought another Sony Z and is pleased with the screen.

    Sounds like he'll use it along with his new 15" MBP - that's two incredible machines!

    So far I've retired my Macbook Air, tried the Sony Z and returned it, and decided to go with the 50% more weight and use the 13" MBP for my mobile machine.
  9. macrumors 604


    The Sony Z starts at a higher price. Again, Apple may not have the best hardware but overall, it's got the best experience from beginning to end and back around. Quality aluminum versus cheap plastic. Mac OS X versus Virus Heaven/BSoD land/POS.
  10. macrumors 601


    The thing about the Vaio Z is it's far more powerful than a MacBook Pro yet weighs almost as little as a MacBook Air.

    What one really needs to determine is which computer will fit all of their needs and still has the greatest marginal utility. So while a Vaio Z might be incredibly powerful, and it is, one might only need the power of an MBA. If one loves an MBA and it fits all of the requirements, it's perfectly acceptable. I don't need the power of a Vaio Z. Sure I would like to have more power than a current MBA, but none of us really need that power unless we're doing some intensive stuff. The MBA is completely capable other than its 2 GB of RAM limitation. If one wants an MBA but they also need to run both OS X and Windows 7 virtually, the MBA is a terrible choice.

    If the MBA does everything you need it to do, then it's a great choice. I really believe we're all caught up thinking about specs. For example, the Vaio Z has 1 GB of dedicated VRAM while the MBA shares 256 MB RAM with the system memory. While that 1 GB of dedicated VRAM sounds great on paper, the average user wouldn't benefit from that much VRAM. There is a marginal return on excess VRAM beyond 256 MB, so Apple keeps it right there. Part of that is the OS X conundrum as it's not as good at games and graphics as Windows 7. However, my current MBA has stunning graphics capabilities with its shared 256 MB RAM when running Windows 7. Apple tried to remove specs from consideration, but it's only natural that a computer user wants to see higher specs to have a reason to upgrade.

    Apple doesn't want us to consider specs because those specs mean very little to the end user's results and Apple wants to go cheap as possible to ensure the greatest margin on its products. Apple thinks the end user should think, I want a MacBook Air because it's thin and has a 13" display and I don't need an optical drive or bunch of ports. Or that I need a 15" display, I need an optical drive, and I need a FW port so I need a MacBook Pro. Or that I need an all-in-one solution that includes a large display so I will buy a 27" iMac. Apple thinks we should upgrade a drive if we need more drive space, or upgrade RAM if we need the RAM... but Apples main assumption is the vast majority of Mac buyers will be completely capable of running all of their applications sufficiently with any Mac they buy... and what it all comes down to is preference in terms of willing to pay for ultraportability of an MBA over an MB. Or preference of willing to pay for a 17" MBP over a 15" MBP, because one wants to work on a larger display.

    As a technology/computer buyer, it's frustrating because there are marginal reasons to upgrade a Mac in terms of capabilities. Normally Apple makes incremental upgrades to each revision that don't focus on computer capabilities (sure slightly faster CPU or marginally larger HDD), but where Apple really focuses is on a new innovative concept like a unibody form factor, long lasting battery tech, backlit display, backlit keyboard, large glass trackpad, and etc. Notice all of these are what the computer user gets for their money. The CPU, RAM, drive speed, and etc are all just details as all of them will run OS X and Apple's suite of software applications.

    It is different buying a PC because the competition is all judged based on which CPU is used, how fast is the CPU vs. competing product, how much RAM is used, what type of graphics are used, how fast the HD is, or how many other extra components are in one system over another system. The idea of buying a Mac is different because there aren't really any competitors to the Macs other than other Macs. With a Mac it's about the look and complete experience of using the large multi-touch trackpad, or how the extras add up to a superior experience for the end user... and for some it's even just the stability of OS X over Windows 7.

    With a Vaio Z you're going to get a faster CPU, faster dedicated graphics, more VRAM, more system RAM, more drive space, and lots of fancy high-end components, but the average user doesn't need any of those to get their work accomplished. So why not save some space if we don't need that CPU? Why not have a computer that lasts longer between charges, weighs less, and is super thin like the MBA?
  11. macrumors regular

  12. macrumors regular

    Sorry,I've adjusted the title now.

    I *was* looking for an actual review myself, but they're hard to find
  13. macrumors regular

    Thank you Scottsdale, as always very well put.
    It fits my current requirements, but I think the MBA is not that good investment into the future, while the Vaio Z is.

    For my own benefit I wished you'd had once caved in and gotten a Vaio Z, just for comparison's sake, and shared your findings with us. :)
  14. macrumors 68000


    You are right that the Vaio Z is a much more current computer than the MBA. The Z, though, was introduced only recently, whereas the MBA is essentially the same computer that was introduced more than two years ago. Thus, it might make sense to wait and see what Apple does to upgrade the MBA. Still, anybody who needs a capable ultra lightweight computer right now and can do without OS X, might be well advised to select the Z. Windows 7 is rather good. I run it in a VMware Fusion virtual machine on my MBP. Nevertheless, it isn't OS X. Indeed, that's why I run Fusion in Unity mode so that Windows apps open on the OS X desktop and respond to most of the same keyboard shortcuts that native OS X apps accept.
  15. macrumors 601


    But all the MBA needs to be "current" for the next few years is a RAM boost and a GPU upgrade to the 320m. I doubt the MBA is going to have an Nvidia 330 GT with 1 GB VRAM, Core i7-620m, 512 GB SSD, BluRay, and etc.

    One has to remember the Vaio Z might only weigh a little over three pounds but it's between 1" and 1.4" thick. That is a lot of extra space over the MBA to store and cool extra components with a higher TDP.

    The Vaio Z is a competitor to the MacBook Pro, not the MBA. One who needs that kind of power isn't going to be happy with an MBA.

    Wait for an MBA update, and then it should be "current." But the MBA being current isn't going to be nearly as powerful as a Vaio Z. Now one that needs more power than the MBA can provide, and who wants OS X and Windows 7 capabilities needs a MBP. Those who want more power than an MBP and who are happy with just Windows 7 would be best off with a Vaio Z.

    While the Vaio Z is lightweight like the MBA it's really not anywhere near the same class computer as the MBA. It's like comparing oranges (Vaio Z) and Apples.
  16. macrumors 65816

    Im sorry but I would have to disagree the higher end Vaio's like the Z, and older TT are different. These are few rare Sony's still built in Japan(or if you CTO in the US made in the US actually), unlike their other models that are all built and assembled in China like most manufactures, and it shows when comparing them.
  17. macrumors 6502

    I completely disagree with this and I have a sense that you did a month ago or so. The width is the only part of your argument that puts the V in a different class, and quite honestly it shouldn't. We're talking about 3/4's of an inch difference between the machines and (though it can't be measured on the same scale) performance that at LEAST matches current MBP numbers (which by the way outweights it considerably).

    So let's drop the MBP comparisons, because by any standard this is an ultra-portable laptop offering from Sony and :apple:'s only offering in that arena is the MBA. Comparing products across consumer segments is as :apple:'s to apples as it gets.
  18. macrumors 601


    Look, I am not just talking vs. weight or anything else cosmetic, I am talking POWERFUL Sony Vaio Z! It's more powerful than a MBP, and it's in that class not with the MBA! Sure the Vaio Z can be compared with the MBA by weight, but that's all that compares. In every other statistic for power/performance, the Sony Vaio Z blows away the MBA in every way and even beats the crap out of the 13" MBP... and actually more powerful/capable than a 17" MBP when we count graphics 1 GB VRAM into the mix.

    One shouldn't be able to use an MBA if they need the power of the Vaio Z/MBP. The MBA is about looks and getting by with as little as is necessary in an ultraportable Mac with a full-sized display and keyboard.

    I agree that I want the ultimate MBA, but that's only because I don't need the power of a 35W TDP CPU, and a 330 GT GPU with 1 GB VRAM, and etc. If I NEEDED all of that, the MBA would NOT be an option. So it's not about being thin in this case. If one wants to buy either an MBA or a Vaio Z, the Vaio Z has every advantage possible other than thickness... which does play. And since my maximum performance requirements are within the range of capabilities for the MBA, I will take the MBA based on the completely thinness and ability to run OS X without a hack. If the Vaio Z was only 1/2" thick, and still had all that power, I still wouldn't switch unless I needed that power. It's like the Mac users that want a Core i7 just to buy a Core i7, or that want a 1 GB VRAM dedicated graphics card just to buy a more capable computer. We don't have those options within the form factor of the MBA, so it doesn't factor in. Hell yes, I would love an MBA that had the capabilities of the Sony Vaio Z in the form factor of the MBA! But we're not there yet.
  19. macrumors regular

    What I mean with "investment into the future" is that in the olden days everyday programs used to inflate over 1-2 years so you literally couldn't work on a 2-year-old machine with then current software. And you were practically forced to use current software because everyone else switched, and data files were not backwards compatible. I'm speaking Windows world here, I didn't follow the Mac world way back then.

    In the last decade or so I perceived a slowing of this trend, just personally and not backed up by data. You can get by with hardware one or two or even three years old, and you might even survive with 4-year-old computers if you really try. But the general trend certainly persists, as the compatibility issues of iPhoneOS 4 and early iPhones shows.

    So, what I'm talking about is, I will not hesitate buying an updated MBA with somewhat more RAM and some other boosts, not because of its specs, but because in a sense that will show that Apple is willing to support the platform for another roughly 3 years (like they're dropping 1st gen iPhone now after 3 years).

    For the most part even the current MBA would do fine for me, and there are some features I highly doubt will even be in the next rev. which would be nice to have and which the Vaio Z has (like more USB ports and onboard 3G).
    I would give them up for the slimness, but some extra motivation (like "the Vaio is loud", "the touchpad sucks", "it's flimsy") would be appreciated ;)
  20. macrumors regular

    Up to now I've avoided going into specs and discussion them, but lets go: :D

    First and everything is weight. That's what makes them comparable. I'll lug that computer around all day every day and I don't want to feel it and I don't want to carry a backbag for it. I'm a lady after all ;) It has to fit into my admittedly spacious shoulderbag.

    Secondly I don't game, I don't do CAD, I don't do extensive simulations. I don't need raw power or speed. I don't need an i7. I don't need a helluva GPU.

    Mostly I'd simply work, write, do spreadsheets, some graphics, more presentations. Email, browse the web (that's when 3G would come in handy). Sometimes, when it'd get really boring I'd have the kids watch a movie, but it's not yet a given, that I'd let their sticky finger on my shiny toy ;-) . It's a matter of priorities, peace vs impeccability (So far peace wins, as the car can tell ;) )

    But, I still want to do all this in 3 years time.
  21. macrumors newbie


    I think 3g ipad will suit you the most =)
  22. macrumors regular

    Ah, nope. :D
  23. macrumors 6502a


    wow, i can not believe that there is a growing consensus outthere that the ipad is a laptop replacement....I have both and i just don't see it...it's simply for gaming and light email
  24. macrumors 68000


    True. I bought a basic 16Gb iPad shortly after they were released and think it is wonderful for light Web browsing and watching Netflix videos while wandering around within reach of wifi. Be warned, though, the iPad is not a substitute for a real computer. You still have to have the real thing for heavy email, or anything like sophisticated word processing. In short, the iPad is a niche product for use when you want to surf the Web on a large, clear screen instead of a smartphone's postage stamp size display. Indeed, that's why I really want an MBA -- if Apple will up its RAM and I can figure out a way to get by with 4Gb.
  25. macrumors newbie

    Sony Z590 vs Mac Book Air

    I have had a Sony Z590 since Dec 2008. (I also have a 24" iMac.) I keep the Z590 over a MBA for the following reasons:
    - I sync my iPhone and Touch to my laptop; the disk drive has to be large enough to handle my 98 GB of music and video. Regular sync'ing allows me to get podcasts onto the iPhone and Touch. The MBA's disk drive (120GB or 128GB is just too small for this) (The upside-down smart playlist bug introduced in ver iPhone/Touch ver 3.1 makes fetching podcasts directly to the iPhone impractical.)
    - I regularly offload a digital camera to my laptop, using Adobe Lightroom. I also back up my photos to an external hard disk for redundancy. The MBA's disk drive is just too small.
    - The MBA has only a SINGLE USB port, so reading a camera (or card reader) and backing up to an external drive cannot be done at the same time -- nor copying between two external drives.
    - I use the mobile broadband modem that is built in to the Z590. I continue to be surprised that Apple has not integrated something like the Gobi multi-protocol cellular modem into the Mac laptops.
    - The Z590 fits precisely into many of the flexible, neoprene protective bags that are designed for the MBA. The Z590 and MBA weigh about the same, too.
    - 1600 x 900 pixels in just 13.1" (140 ppi) looks very sharp and gives plenty of area to view complicated drawings, documents, schedules and programs.

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