Sony VAIO VGN-TZ28GN Notebook PC - Review

Sony VAIO VGN-TZ28GN Notebook PC - Review

Sony VAIO VGN-TZ28GN Notebook PC - ReviewCore 2 Duo U7600 Processor 1.2GHz, 1GB RAM

The Sony VAIO TZ series was one of the first to feature solid state drives (SSD) in its lineup. Based on flash technology, SSDs' major advantages are reduced power consumption and they are less damage-prone (as there are no moving parts). Unfortunately, current SSD technology is not only expensive, capacities are almost half of conventional magnetic platters.

The VAIO TZ series was launched in commemoration of Sony's 10th anniversary in the portable business. Essentially an update of the older TN series, the VAIO VGN-TZ28GN remains one of the lightest and smallest ultraportables equipped with an integrated optical drive. We did a review of the cheaper Sony VAIO VGN-TZ17GN and, for the most part, most of the features apply for the more expensive VGN-TZ28GN notebook. However, the latter is equipped with a 48GB SSD which should improve not only performance but battery life as well.

In the sub-12-inch arena, there are not many competitors. However, units like the ASUS S6F offer a unique leather-clad body while the Fujitsu LifeBook P7230 is a little more mobile with a built-in 3G SIM card slot.


UMPCs not withstanding, the VAIO TZ series remains one of the most portable dual-core notebooks in the market. At only 1.2kg light and 29.8mm thin, you'll barely feel it in your bag. Moreover, despite its fragile appearance the tough carbon-fiber body is actually stronger than magnesium alloy. When the older TN series was launched, we were surprised Sony managed to slip a DVD writer into the slim chassis and this tradition continues in the TZ line.

One of the major cost factors of the VGN-TZ28GN is really the SSD which takes the place of the traditional magnetic harddisk. Conventional hard drives not only require power to spin the data platters, they also need shock protection to prevent the reader head from scratching the storage surface. SSDs sidestep these issues as they are based on flash memory which contains no moving parts. Unfortunately, the limitations are that they are not only expensive, they are also limited in size for now.

However, the SSD is not the only contributor to the TZ28GN's generous 12-hour uptime (18 hours on the optional extended battery). The display uses LED backlights which not only save power but also provide a more even lighting across the entire screen. Granted one of the drawbacks is that colors are slightly more washed-out, but that is not a major consideration as this VAIO's primary purpose is as a business machine. Its corporate focus is augmented by the use of a fingerprint sensor/TPM security chip combo which keeps your data safe.

In addition, we appreciate the fact that though the VAIO TZ series are not true entertainment portables, Sony has nonetheless included external control buttons that allow the unit to play CDs and multimedia files from the harddisk without having to boot into Windows. A built-in Webcam also serves dual roles for quick snapshots as well as video conferencing.


Penny pinchers beware. The VAIO VGN-TZ28GN is not going to go easy on your bank account. At S$4,499 (US$2,959.89), we'll expect this portable to be in the hands of high-level executives. The premium pricing would have been acceptable if the warranty reflected that as well. With only a one-year local coverage (upgrading to international warranty requires a fee), it pales in comparison with ASUS and Fujitsu which offer two-year and three-year service and support, respectively.

To make matters worse, the VAIO TZ is a generation behind in platform technology. It is no Santa Rosa machine and, as a result, uses the less powerful Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950 integrated video solution. We would have liked the newer Intel GMA X3100, which delivered significantly better performance after the latest round of driver updates.


The Sony VAIO VGN-TZ28GN is premium portable for the busy traveler. We do not expect it being on a last-generation platform to deter professionals who demand a notebook which can fit on almost any tabletop, as well as provide strong security features and long battery life. The only gripe we have is the warranty which, for any serious business portable, should at least offer international coverage.