If you've ever read the comments section here at Engadget, you know it's possible to develop a fanatical attachment to a brand. To a specific product, though? And a laptop, of all things? That's fairly rare. But the VAIO Z wasn't a common notebook. For years, it was Sony's flagship ultraportable, with a featherweight design, top-of-the-line specs and a delicious carbon fiber weave. It was the sort of laptop for which techies happily spent $2,000 -- and they were ready to plunk down even more money when a new version came out. Then it was discontinued, only to be replaced by mid-range models with lesser specs. There was a clear hole in Sony's lineup, and diehards were left disappointed, with no clear upgrade path once it came time to retire the ol' Z.
In a sense, the Z is still dead: to this day, there is no Z series in Sony's lineup. But there is the new Pro line, and it more or less picks up where the Z left off. (It takes after the business-friendly S series, too.) Starting at $1,150 and available in 11- and 13-inch sizes, these machines use carbon fiber to achieve an even lighter design (under two pounds for the 11-inch model). Both pack fresh Haswell processors, with 1080p screens, NFC and backlit keyboards all standard. As it happens, we've been testing the smaller Pro 11 for almost two weeks, so although Sony just announced these machines to the public, we already have a full suite of impressions, benchmarks and hands-on photos ready to go. Join us after the break to see if this is the Z replacement you've been waiting for.
Gallery: Sony VAIO Pro 11 review