Sony Vaio T13 review

Sony Vaio T13 review

T3 4
  • The Sony Vaio T13 has been a long time coming but Sony has finally got its Ultrabook game-on and is ready to impress

    Sony Vaio T13 review

    Love

    • Gorgeous design
    • Affordable price
    • Legacy ports

    Hate

    • Dated CPU
    • Poor battery life
    • Average display

    Since the Ultrabook revolution kicked off at the end of last year, we've seen an array of manufacturers unleashing their skinny machines in an attempt to cash in on the latest PC trend.

    The Apple MacBook Air (the Ultrabook that isn’t an Ultrabook at all) kicked off the newest laptop bandwagon and the likes of the Asus ZenBook UX31, the HP Envy 14 Spectre and the Acer Aspire S3 have since wowed us with their combinations of impressive spec sheets and skinny chassis.

    But there was one notable absentee on the major manufacturer list. Until now that is, as Sony has unveiled its Ultrabook debut - the affordable Sony Vaio T13.

    Sony Vaio T13: Build

    While the price-tag of the Sony Vaio T13 is at the lower end of the Ultrabook spectrum, the build and design is anything but.

    It’s one of the most refreshing Ultrabook models that we’ve seen to date with silver scheme made up of a mix of aluminium and magnesium alloy for the main chassis, with the lid consisting of a suave brushed aluminium.

    It looks and feels industrial and rugged, and far from precious. You’ll feel confident slipping the Vaio T13 into your bag, safe in the knowledge that it should have no trouble with the odd knock or two.

    It’s not the slimmest or lightest Ultrabook in town though, measuring 323 x 226 x 17.8mm and weighing 1.6kg.

    Sony Vaio T13: Features

    While there’s obviously been no compromise in the style stakes to keep this particular Sony Vaio T13 configuration below £700, the hardware setup does have some shortcomings.

    Most notably is the lack of a third generation Ivy Bridge processor. You can opt for Intel’s latest CPU inside the T13 - but that decision comes at a cost. The Intel Core i5-3317U chip will cost you £100 extra; an i7-3517U one is £140 more.

    Powering our review model was a 1.4GHz Sandy Bridge i3-2367M dual-core processor with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics and 4GB of RAM.

    This configuration makes this sub-£700 machine more than capable of carrying out your day-to-day tasks such as web browsing, document editing and basic picture editing.

    It’s also more than capable of playing back HD media with no distinct stutter or lag.

    There are plenty of port options on board, including a couple of USB ports (one of which is a faster USB 3.0 version), a VGA port, a HDMI port, an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm jack for your headphones or speakers.

    There’s also a multi-card and wireless connectivity with 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

    The built-in webcam is a 1.3MP powered by “Exmor for PC” one that delivered on its promise of sharper details, higher contrast and rich colours.

    Sony Vaio T13: Screen

    The 1366 x 768 resolution may not be Full HD, but is on a par with most of the other Ultrabooks available at the moment. Only the Asus ZenBook UX31 and HP Envy 14 Spectre from the official Ultrabook brigade offer an improvement on this.

    We did find the semi-glossy display a bit reflective though, and the viewing angles aren’t great either. Colours did seem vibrant, however, and there was no noticeable ghosting when watching HD content.

    Sony Vaio T13: Performance

    The Ultrabook club is made up of Sandy Bridge machines at present, so it’s easy to make a comparison between this T13 version and its rivals.

    Unfortunately, the Vaio Ultrabook doesn’t quite measure up in raw performance statistics, even compared to some of the cheaper slimline laptops such as the Acer Aspire S3 and the Novatech nFinity N367 Plus.

    That’s not to say that the T13 is a laborious affair though - far from it. As mentioned, it had no worries playing back HD video, viewing photo slideshows is extremely slick, and carrying out everyday tasks won’t trouble it at all – even with multiple programs opened at one time.

    Boot up times are also fast, especially from sleep, thanks to the dual SSD and HDD setup. Our model was equipped with a 32GB SSD, allowing the Intel Smart Response Technology and Sony's Rapid Wake to kick into action, meaning almost instantaneous wake times.

    When it comes to the controls, unfortunately, there is no backlit keyboard, but the keys are comfortable to use and the trackpad is compact, not overly sensitive and uses integrated buttons, which we’re fans of.

    Sound quality is particularly strong for an Ultrabook as a result of the xLOUD and Clear Phase technology on board.

    Sony Vaio T13: Battery

     

    Battery life is not the greatest that we’ve seen on an Ultrabook with the Sony Vaio T13 managing 212 minutes of survival during our stress test.

    This involves looping HD video with all the settings turned up to the max, so you can expect a longer cycle when not pushing it so hard.

    Saying that, even with what we’d call ‘normal’ usage we still didn’t get near the 7 hours that Sony states the machine should have.

    Sony Vaio T13: Verdict

    Overall, the Sony Vaio T13 is a mixed bag. On the one-hand it is a beautiful piece of technology with an attractive price-point, while on the other it has limited power and disappoints on a few levels.

    The response time from sleep is great and for everyday usage you probably won’t notice the lack of power, or encounter any major performance issues.

    In fact, if all you’re looking for is a slimline machine to take out and about with you, to keep up with your social networks, listen to some music or catch up with the BBC iPlayer then the Sony Vaio T13 could be perfect.

    However, try and push it any harder and you’re likely to come unstuck. And the battery life isn’t quite what we’d expect.

    But, and it’s a big but because the Ultrabook line is all about style, the Sony Vaio T13 is easily the best looking of what is already an attractive bunch and you certainly won’t feel like you’re pulling a MacBook substitute out of your bag when you’re out and about.

    Sony Vaio T13 availability: Available now

    Sony Vaio T13 price: £679

    Review by Paul Lamkin

  • The Sony Vaio T13 is the brand's first ultrabook, packing a Sandy Bridge Intel processor, and falling under the Sony Vaio T Series umbrella

    Sony Vaio T13 review

    Love

    • Gorgeous design
    • Affordable price
    • Legacy ports

    Hate

    • Dated CPU
    • Poor battery life
    • Average display

    Sony recently announced its debut ultrabook in the form of the Vaio T13 - a surprisingly affordable addition to the slim and powerful laptop arena, starting at just £679.

    Set to go head to head with the likes of the Dell XPS 13, Asus UX31 Zenbook and the HP Envy 14 Spectre, the Sony Vaio T13 sports a 13-inch screen (an 11-inch version will also be available), along with a sleek profile, measuring 17.8mm at the widest point and weighing in at just 1.6kg, including the battery.

    The 226 x 17.8 x 323mm dimensions means that the T13 is beautifully compact, as you'd expect from an ultrabook, and while it may not be the slimmest one around it's certainly slender enough to improve on the stats offered by any non-ultrabook laptops.

    The chassis is crafted from aluminium and magnesium for a chic, brushed metal finish that won't embarrass you in front of your Macbook Air-toting friends.

    Sony Vaio T13: Features

    The Rapid Wake function means that the screen is on and ready to use as soon as you open the lid - without the slight delay that we've all become used to. When the lid is closed, the Eco mode puts the T13 into a deep sleep that will last for up to 90 days before the battery conks out.

    Other features include a large, button-free touchpad, which made it extremely easy for us to navigate around the computer by scrolling and pinch zoom, along with a decent set of invisible speakers that pump out sound from various spots on the chassis.

    Another handy feature is the 'any time' charger that enables you to plug in your smartphone charger and power up your phone, even when the computer is in sleep mode or turned off.

    Sony Vaio T13: Screen

    The 13.3-inch 16:9 screen sports a 1366x768-pixel resolution, which looked bright and sharp, even in the sligtly awkwardly lit demo room that where we got our hands on the laptop.

    Sony Vaio T13: Performance

    Powered by a Intel Sandy Bridge i3-2367M processor, the T13 has a hybrid storage system that comprises a 320GB HDD plus 32GB SSD for higher operation speeds and a zippy boot-up time, while the graphics are taken care of by an Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip.

    Sony hasn't confirmed they'll be any Ivy Bridge variants from the Vaio T Series available soon, but we wouldn't be at all suprised if that was the case.

    Sony Vaio T13: Battery

     

    Aside from the slimline profile, the main selling point for any ultrabook is a powerful performance, backed up by a strong battery life. According to Sony, the T13 will offer up to nine hours of battery life, which is something that we'll be putting to the test in our full review.

    Sony Vaio T13: Verdict

    While Sony often tends to price its gadgets slighlty more steeply that its rivals, the Sony Vaio T13 is one of the more affordable ultrabooks to arrive, giving it an important competetive edge. We were impressed by the fast screen boot-up, the slick design and the intuitive touchpad. Watch this space for a full review.

    Sony Vaio T13 availability: June 2012

    Sony Vaio T13 price: £679

    Hands-on review by Libby Plummer

    • Sony VAIO T13 ultrabook
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