VAIO Z Canvas User Reviews and Impressions

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by Steve S, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    UPDATED: 05Oct15, 5:15 PM CDT

    My local Microsoft retail store had two Z Canvases set up by lunch time and I spent about 20 minutes test driving one of them. I've ordered my own Z Canvas, but it apparently won't be delivered for several days, so I will only be commenting on first impressions here. I'll save the more extensive commentary for later when I've had a chance to work with my "ZC" more extensively...

    The model on display was the "base model" ZC with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SATA SSD ($2199), but the performance can hardly be called basic! Since I only spent about 20 minutes in the store (a guy's got to eat!), the following comments are, at best, a little subjective, and perhaps not completely representative of the ZC's full performance. Also, as you might expect, some parts of the OS were locked down; I couldn't open the Control Panel to inspect the pen controls (if that's where they are...). And, of course, there were no apps except for the Microsoft Signature software load (i.e., Paint, but no ArtRage...). So with that, here are my impressions and observations:

    <> The ZC looks good in brushed silver, and the tablet itself felt lighter that I expected it to. It felt well-built and sturdy (but see the comment about the keyboard). The tablet has a variety of ports, including two USB 3.0 ports (one with a lightning bolt, whatever that means), a full-size SD card slot and a trick little RJ45 port.

    <> The keyboard mates to the tablet magnetically and two small electric contacts allow the keyboard to recharge. There is also a micro-USB connector on the keyboard edge which I believe also allows for recharging. The magnets that hold the tablet and keyboard together are not overly-strong, so getting the two apart is not very difficult, but it does raise the question of how secure the two would be in a backpack (for example). Although I did not have the time to assess it, the sales rep at the store said that the keyboard's RF connectivity... and continuity... seemed to him to be better than BlueTooth. That's good news because I've seen my share of flakey Bluetooth connections. (Per a recent cNet review, the ZC keyboard uses a "proprietary RF link," not Bluetooth, to connect to the tablet.)

    <> The keyboard feels nice (as others have noted). It has "chicklet" style keys. I didn't play with the trackpad much (my bad!) so I don't have anything to say about it yet. The keyboard is very thin and therefore somewhat flexible (more so than the first-gen Microsoft Type Cover)! HOWEVER, since the keyboard is designed to lie flat on a surface, that's probably not a problem. (But on your lap...???)

    <> I was interested to observe that the keyboard has a VAIO snip tool (different from the Windows Snip tool) built in with a hot-key combination. I use snip all the time, so I think that's a great feature!

    <> The easel on the back of the tablet appears to work as advertised. It was easy to set the angle and I could rest my hand on the screen without it moving. However, I did not try the full weight of my hand and forearm; my impression is that would have been too heavy.

    <> The ZC's screen looked very good chromatically, but it was not as bright as I hoped it would be. I'm just guessing, but it looked like max brightness was about 200 nits, whereas other contemporary tablets like the Surface Pro 3 feature ~400 nit screens. I suspect that the brightness and the chromatic fidelity are linked, and VAIO chose what they thought was the best balance.

    <> The ZC seemed wicked fast, and I have experience with some very powerful hardware! I shut the tablet down, waited 30 seconds and then restarted it. It got to the lock screen in ~3 seconds (and I'm guessing at that because by the time I looked from my watch to the screen, the lock screen had already appeared and was stabilizing)!

    <> The pen. The inking experience seemed excellent! The optional foam collar was very comfortable, and I was impressed to discover that it had little molded-in buttons so that you could easily click the two buttons on the pen body through the collar itself. The foam collar itself was nicely firm and not too spongy and the shaping was very hand-friendly. The ZC had a bare screen (no screen protector). The inking feel was excellent and the pressure control seemed smooth and comfortable. Again, more time is needed to better evaluate this, and the potential effects of a screen protector.

    <> As I hovered the pen nib over the screen, the cursor seemed to appear sooner than it would have on my Surface Pro 3. That is, the screen seemed to sense the pen at a slightly greater distance, although this is something that definitely needs to be verified with a more careful test. Despite being surrounded by S3's and SP3's, I did not try to do a comparison as I could not set the units side-by-side. This is one test that definitely needs to be done side-by-side! (Back home, I decided to go ahead and perform a hover test on my SP3 anyway. Unfortunately, based on my memory of my lunch time test, the ZC's pen has the same or a similar sensing distance as my Surface Pro 3. Until I can run a side-by-side test, I can't say that the ZC's pen has any clear advantage over the SP3 pen in terms of hover distance.)

    That's about all I had time to do. For those of you considering a ZC purchase, I hope this makes your decision a little easier!
     
  2. czm2000

    czm2000 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Soooooo? What were your initial impressions? I'm dying to know :)

    You didn't say you were cancelling your order, so I'll take that as a sign ;-)

    Steve S Comments: See above. I loaded my comments incrementally, so you probably only saw my first paragraph...
     
  3. ota-con

    ota-con Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
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  4. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    Updated my Z Canvas user impressions (see Post # 1). Edits and updates were made throughout that post...
     
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  5. czm2000

    czm2000 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Thanks so much for all the info!

    One little tidbit, and I only mention it cause I'm actually glad it is, the keyboard is not Bluetooth. They made it RF to make it "more reliable", and while Bluetooth has come a long way, RF is definitely more reliable.

    Thanks again for the great info.
     
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  6. surfaceproartist

    surfaceproartist Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I was able to confirm that the VAIO pen is a DuoSense 2, and is compatible with the Surface Pro 3. Any additional pressure levels the company is claiming must be a software hack.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. ota-con

    ota-con Pen Pal - Newbie

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    How did you confirm this?
     
  8. surfaceproartist

    surfaceproartist Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I had a colleague visit the Microsoft Store and use the VAIO pen on a Surface Pro 3.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  9. czm2000

    czm2000 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Is it possible that it's a newer model pen but just backwards compatible with the previous gen? Not sure it matters either way, but I guess part of me hopes that it's not year old tech. Then again, they are using Haswell, so you're probably right.
     
  10. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...Is it possible that it's a newer model pen...>>

    ...surfaceproartist is correct. The Sony (now VAIO) Z Canvas pen is an N-trig DuoSense 2 pen. The question is whether Sony or VAIO has had any proprietary modifications made to the baseline N-trig (now Microsoft) design. Like surfaceproartist, I suspect that any modifications to the baseline N-trig approach are more likely to be software- / firmware-based rather than hardware based... although I wouldn't rule out simple hardware mods such as different nib materials or even specially binned (selected) pen boards that show better-than-average sensitivity or performance...
     
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