Sony VAIO Z13 review

Price when reviewed

It’s arguably one of those features that helps muffle the pain of the Z13’s stratospheric cost. Flick the switch to Stamina, dim that glorious screen – more on which later – and we eked out 6hrs 10mins of light use battery life. Crank everything up to 11, though, and the Z13 drains its 5200mAh battery in just 1hr 12mins.

If the Z13 has a weakness, it certainly isn’t its display. All apart from the most expensive model – unless you choose to configure your own on Sony’s website – come with a 1,600 x 900 display that’s among the best we’ve seen on a laptop. The semi-gloss finish not only keeps reflections at bay, but it does so without adding any unpleasant graininess to the images it produces. And those images are stunning: incredible brightness is matched with excellent colour fidelity. And, should that not be enough, Sony also offers an upgrade to a 1080p display that covers a claimed 96% of the Adobe RGB colour space.

The final words of congratulations are best saved for the backlit keyboard, which is simply flawless. It doesn’t look it, but it’s every bit as large and spacious as the main area of a desktop keyboard, and the crisp action and wide spacing between keys keeps it usable however cramped your location. As for the trackpad, there are no misguided attempts to integrate the buttons into the touchpad itself here; instead, it partners two discrete buttons with a nice wide touch surface. It’s simple, and all the better for it.

Sony VAIO Z13

Meanwhile, all the essentials and luxuries you’d expect from such an expensive laptop are here. Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet and Intel dual-band 802.11n chipsets are backed up by an unlocked Qualcomm WWAN modem. Three USB ports are squeezed alongside both VGA and HDMI ports, while SD and Memory Stick card readers are mounted on the laptop’s front edge. It’s also refreshing to find that Sony has made room for a DVD writer in the tiny chassis.

No matter how good the Z13 – and it’s staggeringly good – that’s the minimum we’d want from such an extortionate price. As if to add insult to injury, Sony piled on another £100 or so to the price of our review model, with only a slight bump in processor speed to show for it.

Let’s be frank. If you can afford the price of admission – which starts around £1,400 for the cheapest customisable model and soars over £3,000 for the full works – you won’t walk away disappointed. After all, you can count the number of ergonomically perfect, high-performance ultraportables on the market with a single finger. But for the rest of us, compromising on either performance or portability, or even buying two entirely different laptops, will save you a lot of cash.


Warranty 2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 314 x 210 x 24mm (WDH)
Weight 1.400kg
Travelling weight 1.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-460M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM57
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics / Nvidia GeForce G330M
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0


Capacity 64GB
Hard disk usable capacity 61GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Toshiba THNSC064GMMJ
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Matshita DVD-RAM UJ892AS
Battery capacity 5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0


Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 10min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 12min
Overall application benchmark score 1.64
Office application benchmark score 1.33
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.76
Encoding application benchmark score 1.53
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.94
3D performance (crysis) low settings 55fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition

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