There's no doubt that there's a certain love/hate relationship for many with the Sony VAIO Z series of notebooks, the hate mostly coming from the fact that the Z series is so expensive that most of us can only dream of owning one. However' the company's latest incarnation of the Z series have taken things to a whole different level, as Sony has managed to come up with a machine that weighs less than most netbooks, yet packs the power of a high-end notebook.

There's no doubt that there's a certain love/hate relationship for many with the Sony VAIO Z series of notebooks, the hate mostly coming from the fact that the Z series is so expensive that most of us can only dream of owning one. However' the company's latest incarnation of the Z series have taken things to a whole different level, as Sony has managed to come up with a machine that weighs less than most netbooks, yet packs the power of a high-end notebook.

From what we saw at the launch event, the new VAIO Z is a seriously impressive machine, although with a few minor irks that we don't quite get. But let's start with some of the good points, first of all the weight is nothing short of impressive as you're looking at a notebook with a 13.1-inch screen and a 35W mobile CPU that weighs in at a smidgen under 1.2kg, somewhat dependent on the configuration. That makes most netbooks look obese and even more so when you realise that the VAIO Z is a mere 16.65mm thick.

On the not so great side the new VAIO Z has a very thick screen bezel which makes it larger than it could've been. That said, with a 1920×1080 screen resolution (or 1600×900 is some markets) we're sort of willing to live with the bezel. Part of the reason for the bigger bezel, at least at the top is the 1.3Megapixel webcam which Sony has kitted out with one of its Exmor sensors and it's said to be offering better details in low-light situations. There's also a lot of corresponding space on both sides of the keyboard, but on the upside there's also a rather large wrist rest and a reasonable size touch pad. The touch pad is buttonless, but features a fingerprint reader. The keyboard is backlit which is also a nice addition.

In terms of ports and connectivity there's plenty on offer, although once again we're curious about the reason behind some of the options on offer. For starters, Sony is sticking to its dual card readers, in this case located around the front, one for Memory Stick and one for SD cards, all the latest variations are of course supported. On the left hand side you'll only find a single port and it's a D-sub connector, which we think is a very questionable inclusion on a notebook like this. On the right hand side we have a USB 3.0 port (more on this shortly), a USB 2.0 port with charge support, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port with a special fold-out connector and finally a 3.5mm headphone jack, but strangely enough this doesn't seem to offer headset support like on some competitor's models.