Vaio Z Flip review

Beauty and a beast

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The $2,399 (about £1,890 and AU$3,160) Vaio Z Flip we tested comes with some heavy-duty hardware. A Core i7 processor, Intel Iris Graphics card, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of speedy PCIe storage.

Less expensive Z Flips are available – with the cheapest going for $1,799 (about £1,445, AU$2,355) – if you can tolerate sacrifices in processor speed (Core i5), memory (8GB) and storage (256GB).

But the Lenovo Yoga 910 and HP Spectre x360 also have Core i7, HD screens, 16GB RAM and 512GB storage options (top-of-the-line Yoga 910 SSDs go as high as 1TB), at significantly cheaper prices. The x360 tops out at $1,399 (£1,799, AU$ 2,899) and the Yoga 910 at $1,649 (£1,749, AU$ 2,599). With its premium price, does the Z Flip deliver premium value?

The devil, or the premium, is in the details. We’ve already discussed the Z Flip’s phenomenal screen (though the Yoga 910 and Spectre x360 do offer 3,840 x 2,160 UHD displays) but its little features are what Vaio hopes sets it apart.

  • Standing over the Z Flip doesn’t kill your wrists because as the screen tilts back, the keyboard angles up.
  • The Z Flip’s charging cord wiggles in its dock. This prevents radical wire bending and allows for a device-saving escape if yanked.
  • Its keys are smudge resistant. Its keys, also, are super quiet.
  • A VGA dongle is included.
  • So is an SD Card port.
  • A volume lever sits on the back of its base. Perfect for audio adjustment in tablet form.

The inclusion of an Iris Graphics card also basically turns the Z Flip into a lite gaming device. Plus, unlike the Yoga 910 or the Spectre x360, the Z Flip’s display spins around for presentations, and sits down on its base for on-the-fly tablet use.

The issue, of course, is that all these yummy goodies are probably not worth the extra $600-$1000 investment.


Here’s how the Vaio Z Flip performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 6205; Fire Strike: 1504; Time Spy: 510
Cinebench CPU: 340 points; Graphics: 64.22 fps
GeekBench: 3639 (single-core); 7596 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2941 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 6 hours and 15 minutes


It’s no surprise that the Z Flip’s 3DMark benchmarks are 65% higher than its competitors: its Iris Graphics card is a major improvement over the typical integrated HD graphics we see in many 2-in-1’s. Cinebench also confirms the Z Flip’s gaming prowess. Vaio’s device achieved 64 fps on its Graphics test, while the Lenovo and HP laptops could only muster 45-46 fps.

In the workday productivity race, however, the field narrows. On the PCMark 8 Home Test, which measures a device’s ability to multi-task common applications, all three machines fall within 400 points of each other. 

The Spectre x360 barely comes in first at 3,016 points, then the Z Flip at 2,941 and finally the Yoga 910 at 2,506. Considering it performs only just as well in day-to-day tasks as its competitors, it’s that much harder to justify the Z Flip’s premium price.

Battery life

The Z Flip’s battery is decidedly average. On our anecdotal test, in which a movie is played on continuous loop at 50% brightness and 50% volume, the Z Flip chugged along for 6 hours and 15 minutes, two and a half hours behind the 8 hour and 45 minute mark of the Spectre x360.

On PCMark 8’s battery test, Vaio’s 2-in-1 put together only 3 hours of cordless work, far lower than the 4 hours and 48 minutes of the x360. And while the Z Flip’s battery did outlast the Yoga 910’s on all tests, one would expect Vaio’s top dollar device to at least sweep the competition.

We liked

In a world where copycat designs dominate, Vaio’s Z Flip is a refreshingly unique take on the 2-in-1. Its intuitive transformation mechanism gives extra flexibility that is not typically found in non-Surface Book convertibles. And as a entertainment device, the Z Flip is a home run, with a gorgeous, vibrant screen and beefy graphics.

We disliked

For a premium device, the Z Flip has some puzzling foibles.

Its super-sized key fonts, adjustable keyboard and palm rejecting touchpad suggest the device is designed for maximum user comfort. However, its luxuries are undermined by shallow key travel and imprecise mouse functionality. 

Furthermore, smudge resistant keys are made moot by a fingerprint loving screen and chassis. And lastly, its quiet typing matters not because the internal fan blasts off like an Apollo rocket whenever the device is under load. All too often the Z Flip can’t get out of its own way.

Final verdict

Thanks to a unique 2-in-1 mechanism, slim frame and oodles of features, it’s no surprise Vaio is asking a premium price for its Z Flip.

For many business users this price is justified, especially when the Z Flip’s excellent display, handy stylus and powerful graphics card are taken into account.

However, those who need a 2-in-1 just for presentations and common work tasks are probably better served by one of the cheaper convertibles. With the Z Flip, you’re paying extra for features, not for “everyday” performance. In this case we would recommend the HP Spectre x360 and Lenovo Yoga 910 to the average user.