When my notebook was my only computer, I only bought super high performance 17” notebooks. What they lacked in portability and battery life they made up for in performance. As a game player, I especially valued 1920*1200 screens and fast 3D graphics. Windows compatibility was a must as few games are written for the Mac and games come out months if not years later for the Mac, if at all.
During the last 4 years, given OLX’s global nature, I started spending more and more time on the road. As my travel schedule worsened, I started looking for ways to shave a few pounds from my backpack. When Apple released a 17” Windows compatible Macbook Pro, I immediately switched – it had a reasonably quick Nvidia graphic card and most importantly was only 6 pounds – 2-3 pounds lighter than any other 17” notebook on the market! Unfortunately Apple never optimized its computer for Windows and I only got 90 minutes of battery out of it.
Two years ago, I decided to go down one size and moved to a 15’4” Macbook Pro running Vista. It shaved another pound off of my backpack and was a good notebook, though again it only had a 90 minute battery life under Windows.
During the past 6 months, my travel schedule has taken a turn for the worse and I spent less than 2 months in New York. I also came to the realization that I no longer needed a large screen or as fast a notebook. The transition to cloud computing means I no longer need to have a single PC to work from. With all my emails on Exchange and all my work files automatically backed up with Carbonite from my notebook and accessible from anywhere, I can work from any PC.
As a result, I now have a powerful Core i7 desktop with an Nvidia GTX 285 and a Samsung 30” 2560*1600 monitor to work and play with at home. Moreover, my game playing has largely switched to consoles. First person shooters like Modern Warfare 2 are now optimized for consoles, have much better and seamless online multiplayer on consoles, especially on Xbox Live, and have larger multiplayer user bases on consoles. I still play strategy and adventure games on PCs and am looking forward to Starcraft II and Civilization V, but the reality is those are not nearly as resource intensive as shooters.
To my chagrin, I also play a lot less than I used to for a variety of reasons, not all of which are bad: a lack of new exciting real time strategy games (where are Age of Empires IV and Rise of Nations 2?), too much work and business travel, new interests (paintball, kite surfing, etc.) and dating (funnily enough it’s much easier to play 4 hours a day every day when you don’t have a girlfriend 🙂
All this to say I was ready to downsize my notebook yet again. I started looking for the fastest and lightest 13” notebook on the market. To my surprise, Apple was not even in the running. Apple has been extremely slow to update its notebooks during the past few years. The new 13” Macbook Pro, despite the last update, remains underpowered with a Core 2 Duo processor, a 256Mb Nvidia GeForce 320M and only a 1280*800 screen. Worse it’s 4.5 pounds! The Macbook Air is even more underpowered and overpriced with an old Core 2 Duo, a Nvidia 9400M, the same low resolution 1280*800 screen and only a 128Gb SSD hard drive. The Dell Adamo Onyx was by far the prettiest 13” notebook, but suffers from many of the same flaws as the Macbook Air: it’s last generation hardware, has a low resolution screen, only 128Gb hard drive and does not include an internal DVD player. The same applies to the somewhat heavier and less pretty HP Envy 13. There were rumors that Toshiba was going to release a 2 pound 13” notebook, but so far it has not come out (and it does not have an expected release date either). This left the Sony Z Series as the only real option.
A few friends of mine were raving about their Sony Z Series so I checked it out. The Sony Z Series has it all: a powerful Core i7 processor, a superfast 256Gb Raid 0 SSD hard drive (with a 512Gb option), a 1Gb Nvidia GT 330M graphic card, 8Gb of Ram, a long battery life, an internal DVD player (or optional internal Blu-ray player and burner). It even has a 1920*1080 HD screen, a rarity in a 13” notebook! It’s only 3.04 pounds. It’s blisteringly fast, boots Windows 7 in record time and I have been able to get 5 hours of battery life out of it with the default battery! I also hear you can get up to 9 hours of battery life with the large capacity battery which adds 0.3 pounds to the weight of the notebook. In any case, the battery is changeable so you can take a spare with you.
I got the black carbon fiber case which I found to be most elegant. My only complaint is that I have not been able to get it to run my 30” monitor in 2560*1600 (I max out at 1920*1200 on external monitors).
In any case, it’s the best notebook on the market right now so if you are looking for a lightweight high performance notebook, look no further.