Unlike other modern Windows 10 machines, which use a 360-degree hinge to flip the touchscreen back into tablet mode, the Z has a release that allows the screen to flip over the underlying panel -- a design we first saw on Sony's VAIO Flip series from three years ago. To accommodate that hinge, touchscreen and heavier-duty processor inside such a svelte frame, VAIO used a custom, shrunken-down motherboard that makes room for a bigger battery and fans. Speaking of the sort, the Z is said to last 11.5 hours on a charge. It also makes room for 8GB or 16GB of RAM and either a 256GB or 512GB SSD.
On the outside, the design looks quite familiar, with a monochrome aluminum chassis, carbon fiber bottom and a keyboard layout that looks a lot like what Sony used to offer. The designers used Sony's own audio technology too. Heck, even the signature metal VAIO logo and glowing green, side-mounted power button are the same. This time, though, the keyboard has an anti-smudge coating, and the touchpad is crafted from a tough mica stone. The screen also supports pen input, with the same pressure-sensitive pen used on VAIO's "Canvas" Surface Pro competitor.
The Z series will arrive in the US in early February starting at $1,799 with a Core i5 processor. There will also be a lighter, 2.58-pound variant that makes do with a lower-res, 1080p non-touch panel. In exchange, you get not just a lighter design and lower price, but longer battery life: 15.5 hours. Other than that, the internals are the same, as is the design. That version starts at $1,499.
The S series, meanwhile, remains what it always was: more of a mainstream machine, at a more affordable price. Starting at $1,099, you get a 13-inch, Full HD screen, 15-watt Core i-series processors, nine-hour battery, 8GB of RAM, up to a 256GB PCIe SSD and a lot of ports. So many ports. The list includes three USB 3.0 connections, HDMI-out and even RGB. If that's your thing, the S series will arrive here in the states in early March, about a month after the higher-end Z.