Sony VAIO T Series Ultrabook review: first look
Sony’s expensive VAIO Z Series is enough to send anyone weak at the knees, but today sees an equally slender stablemate vying for our affections. The VAIO T Series is Sony’s very first Ultrabook.
The Sony VAIO T Series
Given that the VAIO T starts at just £679 inc VAT, it’s far prettier than we ever might have hoped. There isn’t the immediate wow-factor of its wedge-shaped peers – Asus’s Zenbook UX31, Samsung’s Series 9 and Dell’s XPS 13 all spring to mind – but it’s still got something special about it. Like the handsome love-child of a dalliance between the sensible VAIO S and the money-no-object VAIO Z, the VAIO T sparkles with brushed metal, sharp design and a natty chrome-effect hinge. It’s a bit of a beauty, in other words.
Sony may not have pared down the VAIO T to an Ultrabook waif, but it claims to have had practicality in mind. The left-hand edge sees a decent sized cooling vent accompanied by USB 2 and USB 3 ports.
Look to the other side and there’s a headphone output, MemoryStick and SD card reader, HDMI, D-SUB and a full-sized Ethernet port. That’s about as well connected as Ultrabooks come.
Physically, it feels a little heavier than some of the competition, but it’s not enough to lose sleep over. At a claimed 1.6kg, we’d barely notice the difference over daintier models, and those few extra grams make for a laptop which feels pretty sturdy. The metal frame keeps the base feeling solid and flex-free, even when we decided to try and snap it in two, and the thin lid does a sterling job of keeping impacts from transferring through to the LCD panel within.
If there’s a disappointment here, it’s one we’ve come to expect from all the affordable Ultrabooks – the display has a bog-standard 1,366 x 768 resolution. Viewing angles and colour accuracy look acceptable enough – we certainly didn’t find our eyeballs tingling delightedly as we’ve come to expect from the VAIO Z – but we’ll have to get our X-Rite colorimeter on the case before we make a final judgment. One thing we are cheered by is the semi-gloss finish – offering a half-way house between a full gloss or full matte panel, it’s something we’ve come to love on other Sony laptops.
The keyboard is a solid effort. The large, Scrabble-tile keys have a really shallow action, and reminded us a little of Apple’s Macbook Air, albeit with even less key travel. The touchpad on the other hand might be more of a cause for concern. It’s unusually squat and wide, and while general mouse pointing and two-fingered gestures worked without too much trouble, the three- and four-fingered gestures got us into a bit of a pickle. As ever, it’s nothing that a few tweaks in the Synaptics control panel or a new driver mightn’t fix, so wait for the full review for a more definitive verdict.
The VAIO T isn’t just one of the prettier Ultrabooks we’ve seen – it’s also one of the cheapest. That £679 buys you a model with a Core i3-2367M (Sandy Bridge) processor, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB HDD partnered with an invisible-to-the-OS 12GB SSD caching drive. Want a 128GB SSD? Add £120. If that’s far too reasonable, try the 512GB drive for size – it’ll cost you an extra £900.
On the flipside, the RAM options are very reasonably priced. An upgrade to 6GB costs £20, and 8GB costs a measly extra £40. There are no options for extended battery slices or high resolution displays, but Sony hinted that Ivy Bridge models will appear at an unspecified point in the future.
All in all, it’s a fine debut from Sony’s Ultrabook. With promises that we’ll get our very own review unit to play with in the coming weeks, keep your eyes peeled for the definitive PC Pro review. In the meantime, feast your eyeballs on the image gallery below.