Sony Vaio T13 first look – Sony finally joins the ultrabook party
What is the Sony Vaio T13 ultrabook?
Sony has made its first play into the ultrabook category with its new Vaio T Series. It’s a 13-inch laptop that lives up to ultrabook form – weighing just over 1.5kg and measuring less than 18mm thin.
It’s not on sale yet but will be available from early June 2012 with prices starting from a very reasonable £679. In the meantime you can already see our latest ultrabook reviews to find out which manufacturers have impressed us so far – with models from Dell, HP, Samsung, Lenovo, Acer and Asus the competition is hotting up. Find out which models Which? recommends in our Best Buy laptops pages.
5 things we like about the Sony Vaio T13
- The price Most ultrabooks come at a price. You’ll pay upwards of £800 in most cases but the Sony T Series starts at £679 for the basic model. It does come in a number of versions so it is possible to pay more (up to around £800) but the starting price is a happy surprise.
- Flexible storage Many ultrabooks offer only solid state drive (SSD) storage, and while this brings advantages in terms of speed and robustness, it also means you don’t tend to get as much space. The T13 tries to bring the best of both worlds by using a 32GB SSD that’s used purely for upping the responsiveness, paired with 320 GB of hard disk space.
- Lengthy battery life It’s only a claim at this stage, but the Sony Vaio T13 is promising a impressive nine hours between charges. This should be more than enough for even the longest day at work. It also says it can go into an ‘energy-efficient deep sleep’ which will keep your data stored safely for 90 days without running out of power. This means you can just snap it shut rather than closing it down properly.
- Connections These can be the first thing to go when manufacturers are squeezing their laptops into the super slim ultrabook thickness requirements (18mm for a 13-inch model and 21mm for a 14-inch version). The T13 manages to get in more than most and this is something Sony was highlighting. The key ones – a USB 2 and 3 and HDMI port, as well as the ethernet connection not always found on ultrabooks – are all present. The USB 3 is a powered port too, so it can be used to charge up accessories even when the laptops is off or in sleep mode.
- Audible audio While the primary function of an ultrabook is unlikely to be to listen to music or watch films – Sony describes the T13 as being ideal for taking to ‘the office or lecture theatre’ - if you’re spending this much on a laptop you’re going to want the option. A couple of the ultrabooks we’ve had in our labs have managed to produce a fair quality sound but volume has been an issue. Sony’s xLOUD and Clear Phase technologies promise to boost volume levels without distortion for a crisp clear sound. This is certainly something we’ll be keen to put to the test in our lab.
Catherine’s first impressions of the Sony T13
It’s rather hard to comment on an ultrabook without making a least some reference to the design. They seem to have carved out an aluminium niche that manufacturers find it hard to stray away from. Sony is no different with the aluminium and magnesium body on the T13 – it has however mananged to make it look fairly distinct from other models. A bit more boxy with some fairly distinct Sony styling.
It’s not the lightest or thinnest ultrabook we’ve ever seen but it’s still pretty portable. It looks much more business-like than some other models and the ports are a real bonus. It mean it’s much easier to connect up without carting around various adaptors. I particularly liked the look of the keyboard, for such a small laptop it gave the impression of having lots of room to play with, the keys weren’t cramped at all and very comfortable to use. If battery life lives up to its claims too, this could be one of the most practical ultrabooks yet.
My first question to Sony was what’s taken so long? With many manufacturers getting ready to release second generation versions of their ultrabooks, aren’t they a little bit behind the tide? Of course if that time has been spent getting the T13 right, it could just be worth it. I’m looking forward to getting this model into the lab to find out.
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