DISCLAIMER: I am using Linux full time on this laptop. Some people have issues with the fingerprint or trackpad on Windows - theses are software issues which aren't present on Linux.
Fan: they're not loud. It's quieter than my MacBook. In fact, I can't hear it in a quiet room.
It's only loud when running full speed; which is rare enough. And that's not louder than the Mac.
Trackpad: it's in.. the regular spot.
Software: it's loaded with Sony stuff mostly. You can remove or reinstall if you dislike it.
Key travel: yes, it's shorter. No I don't see the issue with it, after having used it for quite a long while now. I switch to longer key travel keyboards and back to the Z21 without noticing.
The rest is just "look, my iMac design didn't change in 4 years it's awesome, changing design sucks!".
Now... let's see what the Z21 has and the others.. just plain don't.
SSD: Hello raid0 SATA3 SSDs. Have you ever reached more than 500mbyte/s read/write? Heck, sometimes its going near the 1000mbyte/s sequential. Copying stuff, reading has never been faster. Non-raid0 desktop computer with the fastest SSDs are just way slower. Won't even mention Macs with their subpar SSDs.
Screen: Hello 1920x1080 anti-glare screen. How the hell are others not all anti-glare by default ?
CPU: Hello regular voltage i7 2620M. The air CPU suddenly look.. you know.. just not in the same range.
Heat: what heat? It's extremely well extracted on the side and the rest of the system is at room temperature. Even under extreme load. A problem Apple didn't really solve by the way.
Connectivity: USB? check. USB3? check. VGA out for those conferences? Check. HDMI out /w audio? Check. Audio jack, ethernet, sdcard, lightpeak? check check check check. Tell me when the mac book air doesn't need a bunch of adapters to do more than USB.
higher power USB for charging? Heck, check again.
Weight? Lighter than the Macbook air says enough.
Battery life? Extensible well above 10H via a laptop-wide sheet. Smart. Paris-New York, no need to charge. Of course, the standard battery isn't a let down either at ~5H real time use. (they're both rated 7h and 14h max as far as I can remember, but don't quote me on that)
Now with all that, what more could there be?
Oh wait.. I mentioned a lightpeak port didn't I.. so yeah, a 600gr+ device can be added to the desk while you're not on the move.. bundling a very decent ATI graphic card, a bluray drive, and more ports. You can drive 4 screens at the same time, although its convenient only up to 3. (oh noes.)
Oh and, does it run linux properly? yep.
So it's an expensive device, but considered all the above, it's pretty decent I guess.
Finally, the actual bad, and yes, there is some bad:
- speaker: they work, but god they're bad. they're terrible. Not a big deal, but still, at this price... the jack is very good tho.
- lightpeak will probably not take off, that said, its mostly used for the side device only and serves as USB port, so who cares.
- way the laptop sits on the desk you may sometimes find positions where its not sitting properly, if your "desk" is not flat
The whole point of the review was as a lead into the part about the keyboard changes. All the posts arguing about how the Z21 is awesome are missing the point of the article.
Whether whatever laptop you like is good or not is irrelevant to the authors point, just as it is irrelevant to the products that follow it.
Don't know about Z, but when I got a simpler Vaio for my wife, I spent 4 (FOUR) hours removing and uninstalling all the preloaded crap. Symantec alone required 2 reboots and defiantly tried to scare the shit out of me until its last breath. This is as annoying as it is insulting. The laptop is simply not usable out of the box. That's not even considering that 4 hours is over $500 worth of my time, which is - I am inclined to think - a bit too f#cking much for a $1200 laptop.
However, the problem is not with the hardware, or the software. It's the fact that Sony sells products, while Apple sells experience. That's the difference.
Also I'm supposing that the cheaper the laptop.. the more crapware you might get. So there is no "too much for a $1" laptop, at least that's not the way economics work. Even if that sucks.
Also I'd like if I was paid over $100 per hour like you. Heck I'd be hella rich :) $800-$1000 per day!
My salary in a week :-)
What Macbook are you finding louder than the Vaio? I have a 2010 MBP and I can't ever recall hearing its fan, even under heavy load.
The central point of the article -- that Sony occasionally stumbles on great design and then randomly iterates away from it for no good reason is telling. Just consider the fact that Apple stuck with one standard connector -- however flawed -- for the iPod since day one, while Sony hardly even manages to release a single generation of MP3 players with common connectors.
Nitpick: They did not. The original iPod only had a 6-pin FireWire connector for data and power; the dock connector was only added on the third-generation iPod, which was the first to use USB.
Conversely, Apple has gone through a plethora of different types of video connectors over the years.
I find it really annoying and for that reason alone I will avoid the hottest CPU + GPU model in the future until Apple finds a way to reduce the volume.
i have a MBP1, MBP 13 mid2011 and a MBA mid2011, the MBP is louder than the vaio on average (that is I can hear the fans).
The vaio is dead silent til I compile stuff on all CPUs, then fans are loud, although not as loud as the MBP 15.
The article took the Z21 as target to make an example of "what not to do", not a MP3 player. If it did, maybe i'd agree with it. But, it did not. And unfortunately for him, the Z21 is actually awesome.
The touchpad is noticeably NOT centered, but placed so to be under both your thumbs with your fingers on the home row. The Macbook has a way bigger touchpad, but it's aligned to the left of the spacebar, not to the right. I'm quite sure that for a smaller touchpad, Toshiba got it right and Sony got it wrong (particularly for left handed people).
I have looked at the Z21, but I haven't heard many reports about linux+lightpeak, so I am holding off my purchase until I can gather more data.
The really fast hard drive access time is particularly nice, especially since I regularly need to run tests involving IO-intensive database calls.
EDIT: Also, can you tell me which distro you're running?
The QWERTY Keyboard has a slightly odd mapping for the shift key indeed. Likewise, US laptops might have slightly more crapware /w Windows that I had (?)
Really appreciate it. Bit of a bummer. Oh well.