Sony Vaio TZ versus Apple MacBook Air

January 17, 2008

Sony Vaio TZ versus Apple MacBook Air

I waited patiently to see what Apple would release at Macworld as my previous ultra-portable notebook was nearing the end of its useful life – a great serving Fujitsu P7120 that in two years travelled many thousands of miles and served as my main and only computer on my extended stints away from home. As I dabble in electronic music I admit I wanted to get a replacement computer that could run both Mac OS and Windows since Mac OS is recognized as a superior platform for music creation. I also own both an iPod and an iPhone so I’m no stranger to Apple.

Portability was my main requirement; I like to travel light and I like being able to have my computer with me whenever I might need it – after years of hauling 15″ behemoths spending the last 2 years with my Fujitsu was a liberating experience. The added bonus of going small is much longer battery life which can be essential if you rely on your laptop. The sacrifices in slower performance and smaller screen were truly painless.

I knew that Apple would try to shake up the ultra-portable market with some bold design choices so I was willing to sacrifice a fair bit to switch to Mac OS. It was apparent even before Macworld that the optical drive would not be part of Apple’s new ultra-portable – fine, I have a backup computer for that, no biggie! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how much I would have to give up to switch to Macbook Air.

Advantages of MacBook Air as compared to Vaio TZ:

Thinner
Can run Mac OS
Larger 13″ screen (but with slightly lower resolution)
Larger keyboard
Faster CPU
DVI output (if you bring the dongle)
MagSafe connector for power
Multitouch touchpad

Sony Vaio TZ advantages to MacBook Air include:

Smaller footprint
Lighter
Higher resolution 11″ screen (sharper but smaller)
2 USB ports
Ethernet port
Firewire port
Modem port (I almost wish they killed this one off)
Dual layer DVD writer
MemoryStick reader
SC card reader (separate from MS reader)
Fingerprint reader (when used properly it can be a huge help keeping everything secure)
Larger hard drive, or option of both 64 Gb SSD and 250 Gb HD in the same unit
Optional WWAN Modem
ExpressCard slot
Longer lasting battery
Optional high capacity battery
Removable battery
Stereo Speakers
Microphone input
Optional docking station
VGA output without the adapter
Better WiFi performance if other aluminum MacBooks are any indication

What they share:

Both have LED-backlit screens
Both have built in cameras
Both have 2 Gb limit for RAM
Both have SSD option available

I quickly realized that of all of Air’s advantages (apart from the Mac OS) the only one that mattered to me was that it’s thinner. Unfortunately, Vaio TZ is pretty darn thin too, and yes, it fits easily into a manila envelope as well – even leaving room for its tiny AC adapter!

For MacBook Air to be truly useful I would have to bring several accessories on trips: a small USB hub, USB SD card reader, DVI and VGA dongles (which are included with the computer) and an external DVD burner (for longer trips, I occasionally still buy music on CDs and eventually have to digitize it to listen to it). In addition to those I would need several other accessories to use at home: USB Ethernet adapter for those rare times when I find I need wired connectivity and some type of USB audio input to record music.

The biggest drawback for me is the physical size of the unit, it has almost identical footprint as the regular MacBook. I was hoping that Apple would find a way to keep the 13″ screen bezel small so that the unit could shrink in size – unfortunately, the unit has a lot of wasted space around the screen AND around the keyboard. I understand that technically it’s not wasted, they probably needed the aluminum around the screen to keep the lid more rigid, but I would have preferred the lid 0.1″ thicker if that meant that it would also be 2 inches shorter. In the end I realized that this unit was not really an ultra-portable but meant to be used as a thin and stylish secondary computer, not exactly what I needed.

So I decided that Vaio TZ160 was a better choice for me and would even fit in the incredibly small over-the-shoulder bags I already have, and do so with minimal padding. I do hope that Apple tackles this market segment in the future, an updated 12″ PowerBook would be perfect!

PS. Keep in mind that price was really not an issue for me but it could be for you. Vaio TZ is generally comparable in price to MacBook Air though it quickly gets more expensive as you upgrade the options on it. My TZ160 cost some $200 more than the base MacBook Air and was promptly downgraded to XP, with great success I might add!

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3 Responses to “Sony Vaio TZ versus Apple MacBook Air”

  1. Cialis Says:

    8lt43o Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

  2. seo4sale Says:

    I was a bit skeptical about going from laptop to desktop, but this WIRELESS desktop is marvelous! The mouse and keyboard are very precise moving and accurate —even from 30 feet away! It’s very smart, and the slim style fit nicely on my smallish desk. The monitor / CPU is solid and sturdy. I like it a lot, although MS 7 will take time adjusting to. The sound card is GREAT with plenty of bass. SONY has never let me down, and only lifts me up! What a great machine. Oh, and the touch screen! Haha. It works!! I can touch and tap everything. I AM HAPPY!
    See more detail: http://www.buybestprices4sale.com/Sony-VAIO-VPC-J113FX-B-21.5-Inch-Desktop


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