Sony jettisoned VAIO more than a year ago now, but the iconic PC brand isn't dead. Sold to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners, VAIO is back with two new PCs, announced today in Tokyo. The VAIO Z and the VAIO Z Canvas are the first devices designed and put out by VAIO itself — the former is the company's new flagship, a $1,600 ultrabook with a hinged back that lets users transform it from laptop to pseudo-tablet, while the latter is a cheaper, smaller, and lighter option with a detachable keyboard.
The full-blooded VAIO Z comes in two variants, each with a 13.3-inch display, either an Intel i7 or i5 processor, an aluminium carbon shell body, and an SSD that the company says can boot the computer from standby in 0.3 seconds. A hinge on the back of the Z's chassis allows the laptop's display to be turned, either so it can face outwards with the laptop closed to form a tablet, or so it can be flipped to show others what you're working on. VAIO calls the flagship Z a "monster PC," but says it won't chew through power too fast. For the hefty pricetag, the company boasts you'll get a machine with more than 15.5 hours of battery life — the longest ever for a VAIO laptop.
The Z Canvas is VAIO's "monster tablet," a 12.3-inch device with an i7 processor, a 256GB SSD, and up to 16GB of onboard memory. Like its bigger brother, the Z Canvas can change its shape: the device comes with a detachable keyboard, allowing users to stand it up like a laptop, or ditch the keyboard for a while and use a stylus like a tablet. It's due a little later than the Z proper — where the bigger machine is up for pre-order in Japan today, the Z Canvas isn't due until later in May.
VAIO started selling laptops after the 2013 sale, but the devices, the VAIO Fit and VAIO Pro, were products devised while the brand resided with Sony. The new laptops are the first VAIO products to be designed and released under the brand's new ownership since Sony launched. They borrow a name from VAIO's past — Sony released a VAIO Z11 as recently as 2012 — the brand's new bosses reportedly stressed that the letter was chosen for the new devices to mean "zero," marking a fresh start. The machines look sleek enough, but for now, that fresh start is confined to Japan — VAIO hasn't said when the Z and the Z Canvas will see worldwide release.