Choosing Sony Vaio TZ over new UMPC

Pocketables will be attending CES 2008 in January . . . and my UMPCs are staying at home. I’m taking the Sony Vaio TZ170N ultra-portable notebook I just ordered instead.


This will be my first consumer electronics show ever and I normally don’t work away from home, so I’ve been obsessing over my mobile blogging strategy for months. Given my affinity for and daily use of UMPCs and handtops, the answer seems quite obvious. Grab a UMPC! Buy a new one even.

This sounds like a great idea, of course, but when I think about what I really need and how I really want to work while on the road, I realize that a new UMPC isn’t right for me. Not for CES (and subsequent events).

And it’s not that I don’t think a UMPC is capable of it, because it is. With a few compromises, it is.


But I chose the TZ170N (11.1" LCD, 1.06GHz Core 2 Duo U7500 processor, 2GB RAM, 100GB HDD, Vista Business). And here’s why:

  • Self-sufficiency. Measuring 10.9" x 0.8" – 1.2" x 7.8" and weighing 2.7 pounds, the TZ is portable but obviously bigger and heavier than any UMPC currently or soon-to-be on the market. However, it requires no add-ons. No external keyboard, mouse, or optical drive is needed to get some serious work done (i.e., lots and lots of typing). It’s an autonomous, no-compromise productivity machine. Not having to carry any peripherals also partially offsets its size and weight.
  • Battery life. The standard battery included with the TZ is rated at 4 to 7.5 hours, which is more than double that of most UMPCs. I don’t know what the power outlet situation will be like at CES, but I’d rather not have to keep an eye out for one, carry a separate battery pack, or run back to the hotel room. I’m actually a really slow writer, too, so I don’t need a dwindling battery breathing down my neck.
  • Keyboard. The built-in keyboard on the Kohjinsha SH6 may be a tremendous improvement over the one on the SA1, upon which I could type at only half of my normal speed, but with the amount of typing I assume I’ll be doing at CES, I need something as close to full-size as possible. The TZ’s raised keyboard is 90%.
  • Built-in ODD. I’ve been using UMPCs for over a year, so I’ve gotten used to not having a built-in optical drive. But if I’m not at home, where I connect an old TDK drive, I need one to use with my Sony DVD Handycam. I know that most people use their digital cameras to record video, which makes uploading content easy (most UMPCs have memory card slots), but I use my Handycam. I like it and it works for me.
  • It’s a Sony. Yeah, I’m ridiculous and materialistic like this. And I know it’s politically incorrect to say that looks matter, but they do.

And that’s it. My main reasons for choosing the TZ over a new UMPC.

Oh, and unless interest in seeing it on the site is high (is it?), I won’t review or really talk about the TZ again. Although the name "pocketables" is more figurative than literal and the TZ does qualify as a portable gadget, anything bigger than a 7" screen is usually off limits here.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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