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Review: VAIO Z 2-in-1 Flip

There are a TON of 2-in-1s on the market right now, so it’s important to set yourself apart in order to stand out. We've talked about VAIO’s 2-in-1s before, and the Z Canvas was no exception to this rule with its focus on content creation and its unconventional keyboard.

But there’s a thin line between a stand out feature and a gimmick, so we were interested to see how VAIO’s other 2-in-1, the Z Flip (not to be confused with the ASUS Flip), holds up. It’s got an unusual but remarkably fascinating design that definitely piqued our interest.

You can get your hands on the VAIO Z Flip for $1,799 here.

Z Means Business

Whereas the aforementioned VAIO Z Canvas was designed with content creation and creative types in mind, the Z Flip is being marketed primarily toward professionals. That means a clean, sleek look – and in that respect, there’s no question that VAIO nailed it.

The aluminum and Uni-Direction carbon chassis looks and feels fantastic. It’s all metal, no plastic to disrupt the hard angles of this slate gray case. It has a remarkably modern look, and the build quality is exceptional. It feels solid, but at under three pounds it very much maintains portability. A thick line slices across the back of the display, and an understated VAIO logo crosses across the bottom.

We see a lot of heavily branded, LED covered desktops and laptops, so sometimes it’s refreshing to have something a little more understated. The straightforward, sophisticated design of the VAIO Flip certainly checks that box.

Open Book

That outstanding build quality still shines through once you open the Z Flip. The 13.3-inch screen sports a crisp 2560x1440 resolution, and the colors are super bright and clear. It’s not 4K, but on a display this size this seems like the optimal resolution. The touch screen was very reactive and accurate, and I had no issues switching from landscape to portrait mode.

It’s an all around stellar display.

The keyboard is marketed by VAIO as being silent. I don’t know about silent, but it’s certainly one of the quieter keyboards I’ve ever used. It’s not one of the most comfortable, however. The keys feel a bit too shallow, and the 1.2 mm travel distance takes some getting used to, especially with my larger hands. I wouldn’t want to write a novel on this little guy, but if I was lying in bed with someone and needed to write an email without waking them up, I can’t think of a keyboard I’d rather use.

The trackpad, on the other hand, is all around awesome. It’s a great size, and the clicking and tracking feel exactly how I want them to. No complaints on accuracy, either. I almost always go for an external mouse, but with the Z Flip I was happy to stay with my hand. Or rather, my fingers.

Release Me

Most 2-in-1s go either the detachable route, where the display separates from the keyboard, or the transformable route, where the display flips all the way back and functions as a tablet.

The Z Flip is closer to the second category, but it’s also very much doing its own thing.

Underneath the display is a switch that reads “Release.” Kind of dramatic, but straightforward enough. Nothing happened when I pressed it, and at first I was confused. Then I touched the screen, and it drifted away from the metal backing that held it in place.

It’s a bit disconcerting, and somewhat difficult to describe in text. After flipping the switch, the display unhinges, and you manually flip it over until it magnetically reattaches on the backside, effectively becoming a tablet.

It’s certainly unconventional and stands out in the market, but the floppiness and somewhat awkward transition process is a bit off-putting. It also doesn’t give you quite the variety of viewing angles that most transformable 2-in-1s do; it goes from a laptop to a tablet with no real in-between.

There is, however, one substantial advantage that makes up for the unusual transition process. A common complaint (and one that I’m certainly guilty of) with transformable 2-in-1s is that when you transition into tablet mode, the keyboard is completely exposed. There have been a few ways of addressing this concern (retracting keys being a good example), but it’s always detracted from the experience.

VAIO’s unconventional solution, as off-putting as it might be at first, completely negates that problem. That’s no small thing. I believe there may still be a more elegant solution out there, but I’ll leave that to their creative research team. On both of the VAIO 2-in-1s we’ve tested, there have been inventive solutions to what I am now deeming the “keyboard problem,” and for that they should be commended.  

Spec Ops

So the aesthetics are solid, the transformation is a bit odd but effective, so what about internals? The VAIO Flip we have here is fairly average in that regard.

The CPU is a dual core 6th Gen i7-6567U running at 3.30 Ghz. it’s not Kaby Lake, but should be more than sufficient for the average professional this model is targeting. There’s a good amount of RAM – 8 GB to be exact – but it is DDR3 running at 930 MHz, so it’s not exactly top of the line. 256 GB of Samsung SSD storage, Intel Iris graphics, and a Lithium-polymer battery round out the specs.

Keep in mind, there are some variations in specs depending on how much you want to spend, but this is never going to replace a full laptop.

VAIO claims that the battery lasts for 11.5 hours, but that seems improbable unless you’re using it very lightly and the screen is at the lowest brightness setting. We had no trouble getting a full day’s use out of the battery though, so if you’re using it for work, you should be covered.

It’s also got a fairly standard assortment of I/O options. Two USB 3.0 ports, a SD card reader, and an HDMI out along with the standard audio. Not a lot of surprises there, either good or bad.

Work, Work, Work

This is obviously not a cutting edge gaming laptop, nor should it be. These are solid specs for a professional machine, and VAIO has done a stellar job of targeting the market they’re going after with this 2-in-1.

If you’re looking for high-end content creation or video editing, this is not the 2-in-1 for you. But if looks are your thing, and you want a durable Windows 10 laptop that can double as a tablet, the VAIO Z Flip is at the head of the game.

The transition may be a little weird, but at the end of the day this is one of the sturdiest, better-designed 2-in-1s around. And with a saturated market, that’s saying something. Check it out.