Late this February, Apple and Intel released their new lightning-speed Thunderbolt data transfer interface in the 2011 MacBook Pros. Projections at that time suggested it would be a while before non-Apple notebooks gained the technology, but now Sony has announced a new Thunderbolt notebook for release in Europe in late July.
The new laptop, called the VAIO Z, was officially jammed into the public eye earlier today, and it will feature a proprietary implementation of Thunderbolt that does NOT use the Mini DisplayPort connector that Apple’s uses.
The new laptop will be a 13.1-inch model, and is designed to compete with the MacBook Air in the ultraportable category of laptops. The new device will weigh just 2.6 pounds, and have a thickness of just 0.86 inches. Sony, in order to achieve this slimness, has moved both the optical drive and dedicated graphics of the system to an external box, dubbed the Power Media Dock, that will attach to the notebook through ThunderBolt.
This docking mechanism introduces the first proprietary implementation of the Thunderbolt technology, but Sony is not marketing the fact that this is the case. Sony has not issued full details on the locking system in the press release, but all indications so far appear that it will not work through the Mini-DisplayPort connector.
In addition to a Blu-ray optical drive and AMD Radeon graphics, the Power Media Dock will include an ethernet port, additional USB ports, and VGA and HDMI outputs that will work with the VAIO Z.
Sony currently plans to launch the new notebook starting in Europe, where it will be released at the end of July. Sony has not provided any details regarding pricing, nor have they revealed an international release timeline.
Personally, I have some mixed feelings here – on the one hand, I love the docking idea. I’ve often wished that there were a true dock available for the MacBook Pro, and I feel that Apple could significantly reduce the heft of their “pro” line of notebooks by taking out the optical drive. Additionally, the dock could include additional storage for your laptop built-in, could cool your laptop, could house an optional optical disc drive, and so forth.
On the other hand, I find it highly disappointing that Sony doesn’t seem to be sticking to the established standard for implementing Thunderbolt – the new interface is already taking off slowly as it is, and the last thing it needs is to become fragmented by companies like Sony…
Your thoughts? Sound off in the comments!