The king of the hill
The MacBook Air is probably the most chic laptop to own right now. Lenovo's Thinkpad X201, with its Thinkpad label will attract many corporate buyers. By far, the best business laptop available in the Philippines is the 13.1 inch Sony Vaio Z (VPCZ128GG). Whether it is worth its Php179,999 retail price is questionable, but if price is not a consideration, it is unquestionably at the top of the heap.
- i7 and GeForce Power. Sony's Vaio Z VPCZ128GG mates a Intel Core i7 i620M which runs a 2.66 GHz with turbo boost of up to 3.33 GHz into a small frame 12.4 x 8.3 x 0.93-1.3 inch 3 pound frame. While not as thin as 0.68 inch MacBook Air, it is almost as light (2.9 lbs. for the Air and 3.0 lbs. for the Viao Z) and just as easy to carry around. The Sony Vaio Z's Core i7 processor smokes the MacBook Air with its 1.86 and 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor. Graphically, the Sony Vaio Z has a very decent Nvidia GeForce GT330M graphics card with 1GB of DDR3 SDRAM, which is superior to the MacBook Air's Nvidia GeForce GT320M graphics card with 256MB of shared memory. I am not dissing the MacBook Air, a 13.3" model being my present carry-around unit. At half the price of the Sony Vaio Z, it is a much better value for money proposition, but cost considerations aside, the Vaio Z simply has more power under the hood. The Lenovo Thinkpad X201, can also be ordered with a Core i7 620M processor, but this powerful processor is mated to Intel HD Graphics. Despite its smaller 12.1" screen, the X201 and smaller 11.6 x 9.2 x 1.4 inch frame but weighing in at 3.4 pounds it is substantially heavier than the MacBook Air or the Vaio Z. The X201 will cost you less than the Vaio Z but weighs more and is substantially weaker in the graphics department.
- SSD's on RAID 0. SSD hard drives were extolled for being less prone to damage when used while moving and consuming less battery life. After getting my first laptop with an SSD drive, the only thing I can say is that they are lightning fast. These days with fast processors and blazing graphics even in mid-level laptops, the bottleneck in system performance is the hard drive. An SSD-equipped laptop will transfer files 2.5 to 3 times faster than the typical 5400RPM notebook hard drive. The X201 still uses a conventional hard drive. The MacBook Air has 128MB to 256MB of SSD storage, but the Sony Vaio Z VPCZ128GG has four 64GB SSD drives (for a total of 256MB) running on RAID 0, giving it even faster performance. A RAID 0 splits data evenly across two or more disks to increase performance by allowing faster read speeds since when data is fetched from the disk, data is obtained from 2 or more channels simultaneously. A word of warning, running RAID 0 results in a higher failure rate, as the failure on one drive means the loss of DATA in all.
- Resolution. The 13.3 inch MacBook Air has a fine high 12.1 inch 1440 x 900 pixel resolution screen. The X201 has a 12.1 inch screen with the same 1440 x 900 pixel resolution, providing an even finer image. The Sony Vaio Z VPCZ128GG, well, it has a full HD (1920 x 1020) 13.1" screen.
- Built-in optical drive. Going with an ultraportable laptop often means having no built-in optical drive. The Sony Vaio Z manages to squeeze in a DVD±RW/±R DL/RAM Drive into its small 3 pound frame.
- Where the Vaio Z losses. With a 6-cell battery, both the Vaio Z and X201 can provide a decent 5 hours of real world battery life. The Macbook Air can provide a good 6.5 hours of battery life under the same conditions.
Whether it is worth Php179,999 of your money, only you can decide. But if it's a question of which is the ultimate business ultraportable available in the Philippines for 2010, the Sony Vaio Z (VPCZ128GG) is it.