The Best Laptop That You Don’t Know Exists

Of all the bits of gear, the one thing that fundamentally defines how I’m able to travel is my laptop. I use it to keep in touch with people all over the world, make money, find things to do in each country, and buy my plane tickets. It’s probably my most important possession, which means that any time a new one comes out that can improve the way I work (better specs) or travel (smaller or lighter weight), I consider buying it.

I went to Japan last month for many reasons, one of which was because there was a laptop there that was unavailable in the states. Its specs were so unbelievably good that no other laptop would substitute. I marveled at how Sony could make a laptop so much better than anyone else, even my beloved Lenovo, and I was determined to buy one.

It took two trips to the Sony Building in Ginza (fruitless) and finally convincing one of my awesome friends (Thanks Elliot!) to buy it for me and ship it to me after I left. Not an easy process. Luckily for you, they released this laptop in the US two days after I got back, for less than I paid. Oh well.

So what makes this laptop, the Sony Vaio Z12, so great?

There’s all the usual stuff that you’d expect these days: the latest Core i7 processor, plenty of RAM, a decent NVidia video card, etc. But what got me were two things I’d never seen before:

An Amazing Screen

The 13.3″ screen has a full HD resolution of 1920×1080. This is absolutely unheard of in any screen under 17″. Resolution REALLY matters (check out this Microsoft study), especially when working with two windows. I find it particularly useful when I’m working on a web page. I can have the code in one window and the actual page in the window next to it. Clock speed and such doesn’t do much to boost my productivity, but screen resolution does, so I’ll always pay for higher resolution.

Besides resolution, the screen displays a full 96% of the Adobe color gamut. Most high end laptops (like the MacBook, Thinkpads, etc) have around 70%, which means my screen can show 50% more different colors. This isn’t just ad copy, either. I routinely see colors that I’ve never seen on a monitor before, like bright fluorescent colors. I’ve also noticed that pictures I’ve taken in the forest have much truer greens.

I don’t watch many movies, but watching the Blue-Ray of BBC Life was incredible on this screen.

Awesome Hard Drive Configuration

If you’ve never had an SSD (Solid State Drive) Hard Drive before, hold off as long as you can. Once you get one you’ll never go back. And once you have what Sony has, you won’t want to go back to regular SSDs. Sony packs dual or even QUAD RAIDed SSDs in this thing, which makes them unbelievably fast. You can get dual 64s or quad 64s for a total of 128gb or 256gb.

If, like me, you need more space than that for things like digital negative storage or video editing, don’t worry! Despite being a tiny laptop, there’s a DVD burner in it, which you can easily hack and replace with another hard drive. So now I have dual 64gb SSDs, plus an additional 500gb drive for storage. Unreal!

Icing on the Cake

Another not quite unheard of feature, but still amazing, is how lightweight the computer is. With the battery it only weighs 3 pounds, which is 33% lighter than the worse-equipped Macbook Pro 13, and every other computer in its class, and the same as the MacBook Air. The computer is, honestly, unbelievable.

The only downside in my mind is the touchpad. I would much rather have a Thinkpad-style trackpoint, but Lenovo has fallen behind the curve (they used to be the leaders for high resolution screens), so I’ve compromised. And it’s a pretty happy compromise!


I STILL don’t see how anyone prefers a touchpad. I hate it, but deal with it because I like the laptop so much otherwise. Multitouch is a useless gimmick besides two-finger scrolling, which I’d rather have a middle button for anyway. In fact, I disabled two-finger scrolling and just use chiral-scrolling, which is much more useful, but still worse than a middle button.

BTW, I compare so much to Apple because everyone is familiar with Apple since they’re so ubiquitous now. And because I think the defensiveness of Apple fanboys is funny.

Still getting used to eating meat. Eggs are a really nice solid breakfast and I had some good grass-fed barbecue in Texas, but other than that I’m mostly still excited about vegan foods. Dinner is still vegan Goulash every night. I’m looking forward to getting some bacon at the SF Farmer’s market.

I randomly decided to visit a couple friends in San Diego, so that’s where I  am now. Using the rare combination of an guest bedroom and a washing machine to wash my sheets!

Sorry these still look bad in Google and Yahoo! I’ve been busy with other stuff, but I WILL fix that soon. I removed the annoying email popup for the time being, too.






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