Eat your heart out, Apple. Sony has announced an ultra-thin business laptop that, in a number of ways, puts the MacBook Air to shame. Despite packing a standard-voltage Sandy Bridge processor, the 13.1" Vaio Z weighs a scant 2.6 lbs and measures 0.66" in thickness. Not only that, but the machine can be purchased with an auxiliary Light Peak dock that has a discrete graphics processor inside.
The Vaio Z has a 13.1" anti-reflective display with a 1600x900 resolution. In its top configuration, the machine packs a 2.7GHz Core i7-2620M processor, 8GB of DDR3 system memory, 512GB of solid-state storage, 3G connectivity, a seven-hour lithium-polymer battery, and other amenities including Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi. In addition to the standard battery, Sony offers an optional "sheet battery" that users can charge "separately from the PC" and attach to the bottom of machine without having to shut it down. With both batteries installed, the company quotes a run time of 14 hours.
More interesting still is the Power Media Dock, which hooks up to the Vaio Z via a dual-use port meant to accommodate both USB 3.0 and optical Light Peak connections. (Yes, Sony specifically says "optical," so this is altogether different from the Thunderbolt ports Apple has pioneered.) The Power Media Dock includes a DVD or Blu-ray drive, a Radeon HD 6650M graphics processor with 1GB of DDR3 RAM, and additional connectivity, including support for up to to three auxiliary displays.
If this all sounds too good to be true, the machine's price tag ought to put things in perspective. In its base config with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, an 128GB SSD, and no docking station, the Vaio Z will set you back a cool £1,434 ($2,295) on Sony's UK online store. The dock alone costs an additional £400-525 ($640-840), depending on whether you want a Blu-ray burner, a Blu-ray reader, or a plain-old DVD combo drive. Computer hardware tends to be more expensive in Europe, so I'd expect saner price tags once the Vaio Z series hops the pond... but it's pretty clear Sony is going all out with this machine. Check out the image gallery below for more shots of the system. (Thanks to Engadget for the tip.)