For nearly two decades, Sony VAIO produced some of the world’s most ambitious, stylish, and expensive computers. Now, the brand that taught you to feel “laptop envy” is coming out of retirement with its revamped, full carbon fiber VAIO Z flagship. The new VAIO Z boasts extreme durability, a starting weight of 2.11 pounds, and (in typical VAIO fashion) a $3,579 to $4,179 price tag.
Classic VAIO Z laptops had partial-carbon fiber housing, which were really just sheets of carbon fiber held together by plastic or metal parts. But thanks to a new 3D molding technique developed with experts from Toray, the new VAIO Z has contoured carbon fiber sheets that cover its lid, base, palm rest, and keyboard cutout. VAIO says that the laptop and its carbon fiber chassis passed 24 different drop tests, yet the full assembly weighs just over 2 pounds.
Interestingly, VAIO Z is the lightest laptop to use an Intel H-series chip (Intel’s new CPU for gaming laptops), though it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU. The cheapest model comes with a Core i7 H-series chip, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and an FHD display. Upgraded models sport up to 32GB of RAM, a 4K display, and up to 2TB of storage.
While the VAIO Z sports some impressive specs, it lacks the wide port selection that older VAIO laptops are known for. It has just two USB-C ports, a headphone jack, and an HDMI port. It also has a backlit keyboard and a Windows Hello webcam with a built-in privacy shutter. And for whatever reason, VAIO chose to stick an old-fashioned trackpad on this laptop, with a pair of physical left and right buttons. You can still find these trackpads in some cheaper Windows laptops, but they’re pretty uncommon in the $3,000+ range.
Hold on, where has the VAIO brand been for the last decade? Sony sold VAIO to Japan Industrial Partners in 2014 due to poor sales. People didn’t want to buy expensive VAIO laptops during the housing crisis, and the brand didn’t do a great job navigating the early “hybrid” laptop market. Now, after a successful comeback in Asia, VAIO hopes to make it big in the US.
Will the new VAIO Z revive Western interest in VAIO products? Other classic brands, like Gateway, have managed to make a comeback thanks to their name-recognition and aggressive marketing strategies. And while very few people will actually buy the VAIO Z, it’s a unique laptop, so it will generate a ton of press. If you’ve got money to burn, you can pre-order the VAIO Z for $3,579.