Vaio Z2 Build Quality and Wear?

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by xplane9, Sep 9, 2012.

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  1. xplane9

    xplane9 Notebook Enthusiast

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    After coming from a relatively disappointing Vaio SA3 that I used and finally sold after about 3 months, I am back in the market for a new laptop. The two major nitpicks I had with the SA were the terrible screen as well as what I percevied to be a flimsy build quality.

    Considering that Newegg now has a new Vaio Z2 with the i7 and PMD for 1299, an absolute steal for a NEW Z, I am certainly considering this machine in addition to various other ultrabooks, namely the Series 9 13.3 and the UX31A. Being a student, the 13 inch form factor is perfect for me as I travel between classes, libraries, etc.

    Unfortunately, I am absolutely anal about build issues with my expensive computers, so the occasional pop and creaks of the SA drove me absolutely crazy at times, in addition to the randomly appearing straight line scratches on the palmrest and bezel. I have done much research on this and it seems that the Z2 is often seem as "flimsy" by design.

    My question is, do you Z2s exhibit any of such creaking in the chassis or pops in the hinges (the deformed memory slots are also of interest)? Also, how does the finish of the device wear over time, as in scratches from use etc? Given the choice, would be recommend this device over the UX31A or the Series 9 13.3?
     
  2. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops MY FRIENDS CALL ME JEFF!

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    I've owned all 3, still have the Z2 - if that says something about my vote. The Samsung is the most solid, creak-free, scratch proof build of the 3, but it is also the most sluggish performer. The Asus and Z2 about tie for second place. I would rate the Asus higher, but the one I had - and all the ones I've seen in stores - had some kind of QC problem that made something seem less than solid. The Z2 is, well, what it is. Among its many virtues (I assume you know what they are) a very solid build is not one of them. It's not bad by any means. Mine has nothing creaky, nothing loose. The lines and accent pieces seem tight and uniform. I guess what I'm saying is that this is a well made computer with amazing performance, insanely low weight and great battery life with the sheet battery. But it's not as tight as a unibody design like the Samsung 9 or Asus UX31A and it has a thin, bendable lid/screen (by design) and carbon fiber elements of the exterior which, honestly, look and feel like plastic and seem no more durable where very thin (e.g., on the sides, where it covers the ports) in the interest of weight savings - it is certainly lighter than plastic, and stronger where it is reasonably thick - e.g., the bottom - but there are thin sections that are vulnerable (I had one that was cracked on the side by the USB ports though it didn't appear to have been dropped or even hit especially hard) and there are some 24 screws affixing the two separate pieces of the bottom of the case. Finally, the lid and bottom case are not very scratch resistant. People tend to use skins to cover Z's for this reason, and they do the job nicely.

    From what you've said about your discomfort with less than perfect build, vulnerability to showing marks and wear, intolerance of less than vault-like solidity and silence, I'm afraid this might be the wrong choice for you, despite the fact that it is by far the most powerful among your choices at that price point and it is beautiful in its simple design and beautiful presentation. It has many, many virtues and $1,299 is either on ok or a great price depending on configuration (base configs with an i5, 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD are routinely selling at $1,100-$1,299) but your primary criterion may not be met by this otherwise amazing device. Newegg doesn't allow returns without a stiff restocking fee. You might be better off to buy this from the Sony Outlet, where you can get an equivalent price for a refurb (which look and perform as good as new) and get 30 days to live with it and decide for yourself if the build is acceptable.
     
  3. jonyeh123

    jonyeh123 Newbie

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    I agree with everything that was said above. The Z2 is an amazing performer, but the build quality is definitely lacking, and I honestly feel like it is a bit flimsy for such an expensive laptop. I would still take the Z2 over an ultrabook any day though due to its full mobile processor, SSDs in RAID 0 and convenience of the PMD (I have a USB 3.0 HDD, HDMI monitor, Ethernet all connected to it).

    Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook
    - A weaker performer than most ultrabooks despite similar specs to other ultrabooks.
    - Samsung stupidly didn't put their own high-performance SSD in the new Ivy-Bridge Series 9. It uses a very slow Sandisk U100 128GB SSD. The 256GB Model with the i7 performs considerably better but at a very high price of 1799.
    - Great build quality with a beautiful screen (1600x900) resolution.

    UX31A
    - Great performance for a great price. The 128GB/i5 model goes for 1099, and the 256/i7 model goes for 1499. ASUS also uses a much faster ADATA SSD now instead of the Sandisk U100 that the Samsung Series 9 uses.
    - Build quality is lacking. Although the IPS screen is beautiful, it's been plagued by problems such as light-bleeding (that some users say get worse over time). Some people also received defective fans that always seemed to be on.
     
  4. kanuk

    kanuk Notebook Deity

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    The Z is built to be as thin, light and powerful as possible.

    It's pretty much a scenario of "pick 2 out of 3":
    -thin & light
    -powerful
    -tough
     
  5. Pseudorandom

    Pseudorandom Notebook Evangelist

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    The Z makes a lot of compromises to be lightweight. One of them is durability. Also, it feels even less durable than it is since it uses carbon fiber, which is plastic and tends to feel less premium than metals even though its the better material.

    As for a more durable machine that has some of the Z's virtues. You might want to take a look at the Panasonic Toughbook/LetsNote NX and SX series. Even more expensive, and not as sleek, but still very lightweight (2.4-2.88lbs) with Standard Voltage CPU's.
     
  6. rrm998

    rrm998 Notebook Consultant

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    When I was taking pictures of my Z2 for an eBay listing, I was surprised at the number of scratches and marks the case had. Nothing that affected the function of course, but still a bit of a shock. I've never had a case that was that scratch-able before. Maybe the people that have put a skin on their Z had the right idea.

    In addition to the Samsung Series 9 having a solid case, there's always the Macbook Air if you are willing to go to the "dark side."
     
  7. BlackSnow

    BlackSnow Newbie

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    Just as a point of reference, we've got two Z2s being used in a corporate setting, and the build quality has been a huge issue. We've had two screens replaced with severe bruising, and now the USB port used for the dock has stopped working for anything but the dock. I think Sony may have gone a step too far on this one towards lean and light. The screen seems to get compressed in nearly any bag, despite the cloth being left in it when closed. The keys basically press on it when shut and the user ends up with blotches all over it once the bruising starts, which it inevitably seems to do. This has happened twice now despite extra caution taken after the first was replaced. The laptop does transit to work and back daily, but nothing even remotely beyond a normal business use case, really grossly unacceptable for the price paid. We really love what Sony is trying to do with fast processors, excellent weight reduction, and high res screens, but we've got people having durability problems that have never had an issue with prior Dells, etc. The Z2 really requires very careful handling, and ultimately it's hard to recommend for the serious corporate traveler. Our calls to Sony would seem to indicate a lot of issues with the screen and perhaps now the lightning USB port wearing out prematurely, hopefully this will be rectified in the next model. We like the fact that Sony is pushing forward boundaries, but ultimately we need something that will survive two years of "normal" use.
     
  8. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops MY FRIENDS CALL ME JEFF!

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    Good observations ^ but I would qualify them with the fact that the mere usage pattern of daily transport shows the greatest achilles heel of the Z2. This means not only compressing the keyboard against the screen (though I don't understand how the key imprints get through the cloth you place in between) twice a day but plugging and unplugging the PMD constantly. It's really better suited to staying in one place most of the time and exercising more care in doing things like plugging and unplugging accessories.At a minimum, a dock is highly recommended. Does this make it impractical for many uses? Absolutely! The Z1 was far more durable with the exception of paint fading on the palm rests and screen hinges coming loose. For both models, skins are recommended on all surfaces and extra care in all use - eg, opening and closing the screen.

    When people say, "at this price I expect better durability," it strikes me as the wrong perspective. A $800 Thinkpad X220/30 can be knocked around daily and emerge unscathed, operationally and cosmetically. The Z is about performance and style. But its not clear that the cost of the incremental performance is justifiable for many. And while the designs are not truly leading edge (compared to, say, the Asus Zenbooks or the Samsung S9s, they have their own "cache," which is best described as "Z cache." In essence, this is the snob good among notebook computers. They cost more than they are "worth," but they are powerful, very reliable - despite the statements about screen and port problems, these are in the minority - and they hold their value better than anything but Macs.

    After reading what I have just written I have to ask myself: why do you buy and use these? My answers:

    1) for me their virtues outweigh their shortcomings
    2) I have other machines that I travel with or bring when I know I won't have the time or ability to treat them with extra care
    3) I never buy them new, or as current model; I buy them about 1 year after they are released, just as their successor is introduced, and pay less than 1/2 price for high spec, new or new looking units.

    I posted this because the discussion has continued beyond what the OP appears to have intended. I think h/she got the answer immediately: as you describe yourself, a Z is NOT the machine for you!
     
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