After numerous requests, I finally decided to sit down and create a comparison between these two laptops. Many may ask why these particular two machines, especially a Sony VAIO Z running Windows (ewww ) are even considered to be reviewed and pitted against each other. Well one this being MacRumors and the new i5/i7 MacBook Pro finally graced with Intel's new processors among numerous other updates, the Sony VAIO VPCZ1 is the only laptop available out there that features the same performance and weight ratio, as well as being able to sustain at least 6 hours of continuous use on a single charge. With the new 15" MBP rated at 8-9 hours of use per charge, and the 13" VAIO Z with a rated 6.5 hours of use per charge and up to 10 hours of use with the extended battery (which will be covered later on), these two machines offer very similar specifications and can be purchased at similar costs based on BTO options. Unfortunately with the lack of Intel i5/i7 update on the 13" MBP, the machine cannot be compared to the VAIO Z simply because it lacks the hardware specifications to match Sony’s top-of-the-line machine. Thus the only machines from Apple comes in it’s 15” and 17” offerings, with the 15” MBP offering similar portability at a slight increase in size and weight. The specifications of the two machines are: Apple MacBook Pro 15" LED Anti-glare High Resolution (1680x1050) 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 8GB DDR3 Memory 500GB Seagate @ 7200RPM Nvidia GT 330M w/ 512MB VRAM + Intel HD Graphics 8-9 hour built-in battery Weight: 5lbs. Cost: $2799 Sony VAIO VPCZ1 13" LED (1600x900) 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 8GB DDR3 Memory 256GB SSD in RAID 0 Nvidia GT 330M w/ 1GB VRAM + Intel HD Graphics 6.5 hour built-in battery Weight: 3.07lbs Cost: $2799 While both machines comes in at the same price, we can see that the Sony VAIO Z offers much more performance in the hardware department. Not only does the Nvidia GT330M GPU comes with 1GB of VRAM (versus 512MB in the 15” MBP), but the 256 Samsung SSD in RAID 0 configuration (128GBx2) makes the Sony one of the fastest laptops available. Although the battery is rated at a slightly lower capacity than the MBP, users have the option to purchase an extended battery ($250) that will give users 10 hours of use per charge. Of course the only setback is that the extended battery does not sit flush with the laptop, and will elevate the VAIO Z at an angle towards the user. The extended battery adds very little weight to the VAIO, with the laptop still managing to come in at under 4lbs. Packaging: Well we all know what the Apple packaging for the MBP looks like, so I’m not going to go into detail there. What I can say is that Apple’s packaging is much more efficient as well as environmental friendly, with no unnecessary fluff where its not needed. Sony’s packaging on the other hand does look handsome, but I wonder if it’s really necessary to package the 13” VAIO in a box thats twice the size of Apple’s. Included with the MacBook Pro comes with the newly revised power cord, manuals and Apple stickers (I feel like I sometimes buy Apple products just to collect these), Snow Leopard restore discs, as well as a cleaning cloth. Sony on the other hand comes with the power cord and manuals, and a Windows XP downgrade disc, but no restore discs whatsoever! Sony will offer to create one for you at $40, or you can do them yourself with 2 dual-layer DVD’s. But I’m just dumbfounded on how I can spend nearly $3k on a laptop and have to pay additional for restore discs. And if you want a cleaning cloth, you’ll have to shell out $4500 for the Signature Collection (of course which comes loaded with 1080p, Blu-Ray, and 512GB SSD). First Impressions: The Sony VAIO Z is an extremely light machine at only 3.07lbs., making it ultra portable and easy to carry. The VAIO Z is made from light weight aluminum and magnesium, with the body and display lid crafted out of carbon fiber. The machine feels very nice to the hand, and even under load the bottom of the machine is still cool to the touch. The MBP on the other hand is crafted out of aluminum, acting like a passive heat sink. The bottom and top areas of the machine can get extremely hot especially under load and gaming. In my opinion that is a good thing, because that means its taking the heat off the components inside, or at least helping in dissipating heat from crucial parts like the CPU and GPU. The VAIO Z is extremely light, coming in at just over 3lbs. You can carry the laptop comfortably in one hand, and can easily be transported around in a messenger bag. Even though the MBP is only 2lbs. heavier, it makes a big difference when using it on the go. The larger size and weight can be bulky at times, but shouldn’t be a problem considering all the power you have at your fingertips. The MBP also feels a lot more solid, showing no flex whatsoever when held at certain points of the computer. The VAIO Z on the other hand can feel flimsy, especially the LCD screen which will bend and flex slightly when opening and closing the lid. Even though the VAIO is made out of aluminum and carbon fiber, its hard to tell it apart from a conventional laptop made out of plastic. Both laptops are excellent in design in my opinion, and offer some of the latest technology in computer manufacturing. In the end its up to you on which design you like better, but based on my observations Apple has built a much more rugged and solid laptop with a very pleasing and industrial design. I wouldn’t be afraid of taking my MBP everywhere with me, but with the VAIO I’m constantly treating it in a delicate manner to the point where I’m afraid to take it out with me. Observations: I’ve been using the VAIO Z for 2 weeks now, for both work and personal use. Windows 7 has been extremely stable, and the overall experience was much better than I expected. It does help to note the fact that the machine has 256GB worth of SSD in RAID 0 configuration, so tasks (startup/shutdown) and program launches takes only split seconds. A cold boot of the machine to desktop takes roughly 20 seconds, which is on par with a similar MBP equipped with an SSD. Unfortunately my new MacBook Pro only comes with a 500GB HD at 7200rpm, as I wasn’t ready to spend over $3k on a MBP. Boot up time for my MBP was roughly 40 seconds, and once loaded launching applications was relatively quick. To me the VAIO Z wasn’t that much faster than the MBP, despite have a SSD RAID configuration. To be honest most of the programs took about the same time to launch on both machines (browers, chat clients, etc.). Only loading up Office and Adobe software did I notice an improvement in speed on the VAIO machine. Of course when it came to file transfers, the MBP could not touch the VAIO Z. 2GB PDF files took only seconds to open up, and software installations finished in breakneck speeds. I’m sure if I installed a similar SSD setup in the MBP, performance in this area can be matched if not beaten. The keyboard on both machines are backlit chiclet type and are very easy to type on. The spacing of keys on the VAIO have a little more spacing than the MBP, which took me a little while to get used it. Other than that both are very easy to use and feedback of the keys are very similar. The only thing thats missing from the VAIO Z is that I cannot adjust the brightness of the backlit keys compared to the MBP. With no dedicated keys either on the VAIO, I had to launch the VAIO config. software in order to enable or disable the feature. Sony is well known for their excellent displays, but I am a little bit disappointed with the panel on the VAIO Z. Sony claims that the screen is scratch resistant, which gives the panel a finish that looks like the displays found on the MB and MBA. At certain angles there is some glare from the screen, but nothing to the extent of a glossy MBP. Colors are rich and vibrant, and look quite nice... if you’re viewing straight on. The VAIO Z has some pretty poor viewing angles, making the screen dark and washed out if you move just slightly out of angle. The MBP on the other hand has much better viewing angles compared to the VAIO Z, with consistency in color and saturation. The MBP is also much brighter, while the LED panel on the VAIO feels much dimmer even when on maximum brightness. As a comparison, 1-2 notches above medium brightness on the new MBP is equal to full brightness on the VAIO Z. This caused me headaches when I took the VAIO Z outside to work, because I simply couldn’t see the screen under certain light conditions. 4/23 UPDATE: It seems like my VAIO was not set at 100% brightness, even though I had turned off automatic brightness through the VAIO Control Panel. I retract my previous statement, as the panel on the Z is now just as bright as the MBP. Disappointing yes, as the Sony has such a crisp looking screen under perfect viewing angles and lighting conditions. The VAIO Z has a native resolution of 1600x900, where the MBP has a native resolution of 1680x1050. Fonts were sometimes difficult to read on the VAIO Z due to the smaller 13” screen, but setting Windows to 125% appearance solves that issue. But then again you’re not really using the native resolution in terms of things. On the other hand I have no issues with the resolution on the MBP, and texts were easy to read even in browsers. One would think that with the increase in VRAM and slightly lower resolutions, the VAIO Z would be a better performer in gaming. While it is accurate in that the extra 512MB will give you a few more FPS in certain games, the performance level between the MBP and VAIO Z are mostly identical. Both machines were able to run Modern Warfare 2 under HIGH settings at their native resolution, and the same was for all the classic Steam titles. Battlefield 2 Bad Company could only be run at MEDIUM settings at native resolution, but you really don’t loose out in too much detail (as far as I can tell) due to the physical screen size of the machines (13” and 15”). Loading games on the VAIO Z was much faster due to the SSD, but then again that is something that can be matched with a SSD equipped MBP. The Nvidia GT 330M is not a powerful GPU, and this is something potential gamers need to realize. The extra 512MB VRAM in this case does not help significantly in boosting the performance of this card. If you do intend to game on your laptop, especially on the MBP I would suggest going with the 512MB VRAM model. Reason is because some games require to you have at least 512MB of VRAM as minimum system specifications. The extra memory will also certainly help if working with large image files and edits, as well as any 3D modeling or video software such as FCP, AutoCAD, and Maya. The upcoming Adobe CS5 suite will also be quite happy with 512MB memory also. If you intend on getting the machine based on productivity in a multimedia rich environment, then I highly suggest going with the MBP. The increased real estate in screen size will definitely help in that regard. The 13” VAIO Z was just too cramped to be used extensively and intensively, and I would never consider the VAIO Z as a primary computer. Hardware features: Other than the subpar LCD panel on the VAIO Z, what bothered me the most was the trackpad. Going from the glass trackpad on the MBP to the VAIO Z was like rubbing my finger over fine sand paper (I am exaggerating a bit). The trackpad on the MBP is the best in the industry, and I dare you to challenge me if you think otherwise. Two finger scrolling and tracking is extremely accurate and smooth, and not for a second did I think about having to plug in a external mouse. The VAIO Z’s trackpad on the other hand is better than the majority out trackpads available, but comes nowhere close to the accuracy and feel of the MBP’s. Even though it is a Synaptics trackpad (you can enable 2-finger scrolling as well as other multitouch features), I often found the cursor jitter across the screen, or simply not work at all when trying to scroll. I probably wouldn’t mind using it on the go, but a external mouse is a must during extended use. The VAIO Z offers 1 more USB 2.0 port than the MBP (3 total), as well as including a ExpressCard® /34 slot, HDMI, as well as a SD/Memory Stick PRO Duo media card reader. It does not include any Firewire ports, so you’re stuck with just USB for file transfers. And then theres the AC adapters, which I’ll let the pictures do the talking... I’ll take the Apple one please Battery life on both machines are quite good, with the VAIO Z lasting about 5.5 hours per charge and the MBP reaching as high as 7 hours for me personally. This was done with Wifi on, Bluetooth off, screen at medium setting on the MBP high setting on the VAIO Z, and browsing, email, IM, etc. The VAIO Z is capable on reaching up to 10 hours with the extended battery, but as I mentioned does add bulk to the machine. Apple solution is much more elegant while at the same time providing similar performance in battery life. But unfortunately as we all know the battery is not user replaceable and cannot be swapped on the go. The new battery pack in the MBP are rated at 1000 charge cycles, while Sony does not mention any of this in their specifications. Verdict: In the end, the machine you choose depends on what you’re looking for. If you live by the specs and want bragging rights, then the VAIO Z is definitely the winner. With a light carbon fiber body and specs to drool for in a 3lb. 13” package, the VAIO Z is a machine to be reckoned with. It is an extremely capable machine that can handle pretty much everything that you can throw at, while at the same time easily be able to be stowed away into a purse (nothing wrong with a man purse). If you’re looking for ease of use and setup, as well as the ability to run the most intuitive and feature rich OS in the world, then obviously the 15” MBP is your choice. It offers some of the latest and greatest technology available, both hardware and software, despite lacking features that some competitors might offer.