Product Type: Sony laptops
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Z600 TEK & HEK - another master piece but with flaws!
Sony Vaio Z600TEK
Member Name: Jon Tech
Sony Vaio Z600TEK
Date: 01/04/01, updated on 01/04/01 (3777 review reads)
Advantages: Superb quality, great to own.
Disadvantages: No infra-red & possible NIC / firewire conflicts.
I looked long & hard before settling on the Z600 to replace my Vaio 505SN (PII 400).
Compared with the other 'super compact' models I looked at from Toshiba, Sony, Asus etc - the Z600 felt streets ahead on build quality. As with my 505SN the magnesium case gives a solid, high quality feel without actually making the unit heavy!
The mains transformer is larger than my previous Vaio. It is considerably heavier too. The DC power connector is now more substantial and less fiddly to connect which has to be a plus.
Toshiba have a model of a similar size to the Z600LEK / HEK which has internal DVD, but IMHO the Sony is miles ahead on build quality.
On-board I/O is pretty comprehensive - 10/100 LAN, 56k modem, (both internal rather than on a PC Card) as well as 2 USB ports. I am not quite sure why one of the USB's had to be offered in a mini-usb presentation. Although the system is supplied with a fly-lead adapter, that's just one more thing to lose! The port replicator is supplied with the system for external Parallel printer & VGA - as well other duplicate ports.
One of the most noticable omissions that I do not understand is Infra Red. I often connected my 505SN using my mobile phone. I found IR the easiest cable-free way of linking to HP laser printers too, and think it is crazy to leave the interface off a system that is otherwise so perfect for working on the move.
The HEK is supplied with Windows 2000 Pro and it runs this without problem. It is actually quite nippy moving around menus, & gives Win2k plenty of headroom. The 128mb RAM seems to be comfortable.
Many of the super compact systems I have seen are literally way too hot, and will cook your lap within a few minutes. The HEK runs cool and quiet. I found the old 505SN noisey, and became very concious of fans and hard disks powering up & down. The low heat output is probably responsible for the vastly improoved battery live. The stand
ard battery gives a genuine 2-3 hours, compared with 1hr at a push for the 505SN.
Personally, I do not find the JOG DIAL especially useful for navigation, but it is handy for scrolling text.
If you are looking at using Adobe Premiere with the system, check carefully that you can get the correct plug-ins to support your copy of Premiere. So far I have only managed to find plug-ins as supplied by Sony to support Premiere 5.1LE. If this version is not bundled with your system, it will be hard to get hold of!
One final problem I have had is with connecting a video camera to the IEEE1394 port at the same time as having a wireless LAN card installed. As soon as the camera & LAN card are connected, the Z600 locks up. I have since tested a few other Vaio's that do not exhibit this behaviour.
Support depends very much on your needs. I found it almost impossible to find information about support for non-Sony supplied Premiere, or possible problems with the system freezing. As I have experienced other minimal support from Sony in the past, I had nothing to suggest that this has improved.
Big plus: Superb quality, great to own.
Big minus: No infra-red & possible NIC / firewire conflicts. Also more expensive than other models of similar spec. (The HEK has 800Mhz CPU but otherwise the same as the LEK)
At the end of the day, it is a Sony.