Phone, Smartphone, Notebook and Gadget Reviews and buyers guide

Home > Ultrabook Reviews -> Windows 2-in-1 Convertible Reviews > Vaizo Z (flip)


Vaio Z (flip model)

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Very fast convertible Ultrabook, great cooling, stunning design and materials, pleasing display in terms of color and sharpness.

What's Not: Ouch, that price! Port selection is adequate but not impressive, display could be brighter.


Reviewed January 27, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Sony Vaio Z Flip

Remember the Sony Vaio Flip 13, 14 and Flip 15 inch models from late 2013? They were some of the most interesting and innovatively designed convertibles that we'd seen at the time. Sony was just starting to get their mojo back after an abysmal several years where their laptop line went from brilliant to pedestrian, and the Flip, Vaio Duo and Vaio Pro super-light clamshell laptop were their new shining stars. But then they pulled the plug on their PC line just when things were getting good. Happily, a Japanese firm bought the Vaio brand name and intellectual property, and a good number of Sony's PC design and engineering staff transferred to the new company. That firm, Japan Industrial Partners, sold Vaio PCs in Japan, and at the end of 2015 brought one member of their lineup to the US. That was the Vaio Z Canvas, an innovative and very powerful Windows 10 tablet with pen, a quad core CPU and plenty of ports. It's something of an engineering marvel, with a high price tag to match. Now they're bringing the Vaio Z flip model to the US, known as the "Monster PC" in Japan, it's actually a 2.95 lb., 13.3" convertible laptop that's not in the least bit monstrous in terms of physical presence, rather it packs more power than competing Ultrabooks other than the 13" Retina MacBook Pro. It has dual core 28 watt CPUs and Intel Iris 550 graphics that are significantly more powerful than standard 15 watt/ Intel HD 520 graphics Ultrabook fare. When Apple gets around to updating that Mac to Skylake 6th generation internals, it will be the only real competition in terms of horsepower. Of course the Mac doesn't have a screen that supports both active pen and touch, nor is it a convertible--those sorts of features are still safely ensconced in the world of Windows.

Vaio Z Flip

When the Sony Flip models shipped in 2013, they were 15 watt Ultrabooks, even the big 15" model that at least added low level dedicated graphics as an option. Their aluminum casings were classy but a little too thin and flexible in spots to make picky shoppers happy. Sony had to bring these in at mainstream premium Ultrabook and convertible prices, so concessions were made. Battery life was OK but not great, WiFi performance was a sore point (to be fair, that's was more Intel's fault since that generation of Intel WiFi adapters was less than stellar). The new Vaio (no Sony here) is a company that sells premium products at very premium pricing. That said, their lightweight Vaio S Ultrabook will come to the US market starting at a much more affordable $1,100 and there will be a Z clamshell traditional laptop priced above it but below the Z convertible we're reviewing here. But like the Vaio Z Canvas, the Vaio Z flip model is out of the reach of many buyers, it starts at $1,799 and tops out at $2,399 with a $1,999 configuration in the middle. You're getting the best that very bright engineers could come up with for that price, but is it worth the premium?

Specs at a Glance

All three Vaio Z flip model configurations have 13.3" WQHD 2560 x 1440 IPS displays that support pen and touch. They run on Intel 6th generation Skylake platform and have 28 watt dual core CPUs with Intel Iris 550 graphics. The base model has the 2.9 GHz Core i5-6267U, while the middle and top models have the 3.3 GHz Core i7-6567U. The top model has 16 gigs of RAM while the other two have 8 gigs of RAM (LPDDR3 1866 MHz). They have fast PCIe SSD drives (256 gig for the bottom top and 512 gig for the top model), Intel 8260 dual band WiFi 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.1. A front 720p and rear 8MP camera are standard on all models.

Design, Keyboard and Trackpad

The Vaio Z flip model is a light yet rigid aluminum and carbon fiber laptop with the unique Vaio Flip 2-in-1 convertible design we first saw in 2013. There's a back panel behind the display that splits in two via a nicely enclosed and protected hinge that runs horizontally across the back. The design allows you to flip to tablet/tent/presentation mode without having the keyboard face outward or against a table. For those who dislike 360 degree hinge designs like the Lenovo Yoga series, this is a plus. The design proved durable enough in the less expensively engineered Sony versions, so we expect it to hold up nicely here. The machine is quite thin at 0.66" (same as the 2.8 lb. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga).

Vaio Z Flip

The casing is gunmetal silver and it looks classy and modern--the design hasn't aged a bit and it still looks futuristic and sleek. The metal keyboard deck is rigid and its edges extend a tiny bit beyond the bottom cover for a unique look. That lip can interfere with bulkier USB connectors including the WiFi access point that Vaio bundles with the highest price model (we couldn't insert it into the USB port-- but you can plug it into the USB port on the AC adapter). The keyboard deck is firm with no bounce, and the keys have beautifully damped travel and are tuned to be quiet, Vaio tells us. The key caps have an anti-smudge coating that's great for OCD types and it also feels nice with a little bit of traction that's not overly sticky or grippy. Key travel is very short, and we found typing a bit more jarring on the finger joints as a result. I prefer the Dell XPS 13's keyboard, even though it has similarly short travel. Still, it's workable enough and the keys are roomy--this isn't like the Vaio Duo and its cramped keyboard, and the keyboard is higher quality than the Sony version of the Flip. The keys are backlit and it's easy to see the masking in any lighting.

The trackpad is good but not among the best we've tried since Windows 10 laptops with Intel 6th generation Skylake started shipping in late fall 2015. It's reliable and tracks finger movements fine, but doesn't achieve that "extension of your brain" feeling that Mac and better Windows trackpads like that on the Microsoft Surface Book, Dell XPS and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga achieve. For those who remember the trackpad on the Sony Vaio Flip, the new model has better reinforcement and isolation so you won't feel the bottom of the laptop flex when you depress the trackpad.

Vaio Z Flip

The bottom is carbon fiber and fits like a flattened bowl against the underside of the keyboard deck. Removing it to access the internals is not fun, and Vaio doesn't recommend owners open up the device. Still, you can remove the many bottom screws (including several hidden under the front rubber strip) and gently pry off the cover (it's hard to work the cover off around the headphone jack, rear power and rear volume controls). There's nothing much to service--RAM is soldered on, the SSD is an M.2 PCIe that is removable and the battery could be serviced.

The machine has a decent but not impressive selection of ports: full size HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio, an SD card slot and two USB 3.0 ports (both on the right side). Vaio includes an HDMI to VGA adapter in the box. I'd rather have a mini DisplayPort with an HDMI adapter, alas.


This is a lovely 2560 x 1440 IPS glossy display that's decently bright and it has good color gamut and excellent factory calibration. It's a pleasure to watch movies and it's perfect for editing photos in Photoshop--particularly with the included N-Trig active pen. It supports touch as well as the included pen with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity (same pen tech as on the Vaio Z Canvas). The display offers complete sRGB coverage and 78% of Adobe RGB, beating most of the high end competition by 3% (a small amount). Brightness is 275 nits, and we'd like to see more than 300 nits in this price bracket, though it's more than adequate for indoor use. Black levels are good at 0.36 at max brightness and it has a contrast ratio of 770:1--also good, but it can't beat the insanely high contrast levels on Microsoft Surface Book and Surface Pro 4.




Vaio Z flip model Video Review


N-Trig Pen

Like Microsoft Surface Pro 4, MS Surface Book and the Vaio Z Canvas, the Vaio Z uses the latest generation N-Trig active digitizer with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity vs. 256 levels on older Surface Pro and Vaio models. That means more natural drawing (note takers probably won't notice) and the digital ink flows in a more fluid or silky way. Diagonal line jitter is reduced though still present and pen hover distance has increased to around .7", which is a tiny bit less than Wacom EMR (some Wacom EMR tablets reach 0.75 to 1"). Pen hover is handy for pointing without touching the screen and more importantly so that the screen "sees" the pen, and knows when to ignore your hand when you rest it on the screen (this is called palm rejection). The notebook ships with the same Vaio-branded DuoSense 2 pen as the final generation Sony Vaio Duo 13 and optionally with the Sony Vaio Flip models. It has two side buttons, and a slightly rough and soft nib that's not too noisy on the glass. It doesn't have the eraser on the end as does the new pen included with Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, but you can use that Microsoft pen with the Vaio and the eraser function will work. How does the Vaio Z feel for writing and drawing compared to the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book? Very similar.

Vaio Z Flip

Horsepower and Performance

Here's where things get interesting and impressive. The dual core 28 watt Intel Skylake Core i7-6567U is significantly more powerful than the 15 watt CPUs in the rest of the convertible and Ultrabook world. The Core i7 base clock rate is also considerably higher at 3.3 GHz vs. 2.5 GHz for 15 watt Core i7 models. Even the Core i5 is clocked at 2.9 GHz. The benchmarks show the difference, and for those who do software compiles, video editing and number crunching, it will be noticeably quicker. Not as fast as 45 watt quad core machines like the Dell XPS 15 of course, since we have two cores here. Even more exciting is Intel's top of the line GT3e integrated HD 550 graphics. Our benchmarks show it performs as well as the NVIDIA 940M and it matches the scores of the Surface Book with dedicated GPU. Nice! Experientially it played BioShock Infinite at the same frame rates and settings as the Surface Book, but the Surface Book pulled ahead in Adobe Premiere Pro since that program has CUDA optimizations for NVIDIA GPUs.

This is the first machine to ship with the 28 watt CPU and Intel Iris 550 graphics, and we expect Apple to follow with their updated 13" Retina MacBook Pro. Our unit was a late prototype and it showed the GPU as Intel HD 540, which is quite impossible since that GPU is combined on-chip only with 15 watt CPUs. That likely means nothing to you, but I'm disclosing it so you know we're working with very late, but unfinished hardware.

Vaio Z Flip

Humorously, this is in some ways what Microsoft Surface Book should have been to match Microsoft's somewhat wild claims for speed. It has a stronger CPU than Surface Book, and integrated Iris graphics that perform as well as the dedicated NVIDIA GPU that's optional on Surface Book. The Vaio is simply faster, and at this price we should hope so! That said, Microsoft pulled off an engineering marvel when they fit 15 watt standard Ultrabook Core i5 and i7 CPUs in the thin, detachable 1.6 lb. tablet section and moved the GPU to the base, so we're certainly not dinging them on their excellent product, just their marketing hyperbole. The Vaio has it a little easier since it uses standard laptop design principles. Still, we're impressed by the Vaio's cooling--the tuned fan with its liquid-cooled bearings really does an excellent job and it never gets hot to the touch nor does it throttle unduly. When working hard (video exports, gaming) the fan ramps up loud, but it drops almost immediately after the task is complete. We checked CPU temperatures and in fact they drop rapidly once the job is done, which indicates very effective cooling. You're getting something for your money here--it's faster than other Ultrabooks by a significant margin and the cooling and motherboard design are excellent in terms of thermals. If you do plan to work it hard, be prepared to listen to a loud fan when it's exporting video, compiling large programs or playing games.

The Vaio Z is available with 256 and 512 gig SSDs, and both are PCIe NVMe with very solid benchmark results compared to other recent laptops shipping with NVMe drives. You can get the Vaio Z with 8 or 16 gigs of RAM, and that's LPDDR3 RAM soldered on board (no upgrading it later).


PCMark 8: 3732
wPrime:  14.28 sec
Geekbench 3 (64 bit): 3779, multi-core 7854
Unigine Heaven 4: 17.2 fps, score: 433, temp: not reported
Cinebench R15: GPU: 61.45 fps, CPU 373 cb
3DMark 11: P2830 / X784
3Dmark Cloud Gate: 8312
3DMark Fire Strike: 5837 (Extreme 630)

CrystalDiskMark SSD Benchmark:

Vaio Z Flip CrystalDiskMark SSD benchmark

benchmark comparison graph


Battery Life

A fast machine with beefier CPUs and the fastest integrated Intel graphics option should have mediocre battery life. Again, if money is no object, that doesn't need to be the case. Vaio claims up to 11.5 hour runtimes and that's optimistic with anything like normal use, but we did average 8 hours of productivity work and streaming video with brightness set to 40% and WiFi on. The "Vaio Z Engine", aka a miniaturization of the motherboard that allows room for a larger battery and fan, as well as various power optimizations in the hardware are effective in terms of eking out good battery life. The machine has a 56 Whr battery that's sealed inside.

The compact charger has a USB charging port for your phone, and provides sufficient power to charge the laptop even when it's working hard.

Vaio Z Flip



It's hard not to lust for the Vaio Z flip model--it's everything the Sony Vaio Flip could have been if money were no object. The materials are top notch, the display is lovely looking, the pen is included in the box and it works very well for both notes and art. The machine is modern and gorgeous looking. Performance is above that of competing Ultrabooks thanks to the 28 watt Intel Skylake Core i7 and Iris graphics. If your workload runs heavy and you find most low voltage laptops can't keep up, but you don't want to move up to heavier and larger 15" laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and 15" Retina MacBook Pro, this and the likely upcoming refreshed 13" MacBook Pro are your best bets. That is, if you can afford it.


Price: $1,799, $1,999 and $2,399

Related Reviews:

Vaio Z Canvas Review

Microsoft Surface Book Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Review

Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 Review

13" Retina MacBook Pro (2015) Review

15" Retina MacBook Pro (2015) Review

Sony Vaio Flip 13 Review (discontinued)

Sony Vaio Flip 15 Review (discontinued)

Dell XPS 15 Review

Asus ZenBook UX303UB Review




blog comments powered by Disqus


Display: 13.3", 2460 x 1440 WQHD IPS display with touch and N-Trig digitizer for pen. Intel HD 550 integrated graphics. HDMI port with VGA dongle adapter in the box.

Battery: 4 cell, 56 Whr Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: 2.9 GHz Intel Skylake Core i5 and 3.3 GHz Core i7 CPUs available. 8 or 16 gigs DDR3 RAM (soldered on board, not upgradeable). 256 or 512 gig M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD drives available.

Size: 8.47 x 12.76 x 0.66 inches. Weight: 2.95 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam and 8MP rear camera.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Intel 8260 dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

Software: Windows 10 Home and Professional editions available.

Expansion and Ports: 2 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, 3.5mm audio and SD card slot. VGA dongle adapter included.



All Phone Reviews
Smartphone Reviews
Android Phone Reviews
Windows Phone Reviews
HTC Phone Reviews
LG Phone Reviews
Motorola Phone Reviews
Nokia Phone Reviews
Samsung Phone Reviews
Sony Phone Reviews
AT&T Phone Reviews
Sprint Phone Reviews
T-Mobile Phone Reviews
Verizon Phone Reviews
Unlocked GSM Phone Reviews


All Tablet Reviews
Android Tablet Reviews
Tablet Comparisons
Android Tablet Comparisons



Laptop Reviews
Ultrabook Reviews
Laptop Comparisons
Best Ultrabooks



Bluetooth Headsets
iPhone and iPad Accessories
eBook Readers
Camera Reviews

iPhone Game Reviews
iPad Game Reviews

iPhone Case Reviews
iPad Case Reviews


RSS News Feed

About Us

Contact Us


Site Map