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.


Warranty2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions314 x 210 x 24mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-460M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM57
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,600
Resolution screen vertical900
Resolution1600 x 900
Graphics chipsetIntel HD graphics / Nvidia GeForce G330M
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity61GB
Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskToshiba THNSC064GMMJ
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveMatshita DVD-RAM UJ892AS
Battery capacity5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapteryes
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots1
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 10min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 12min
Overall application benchmark score1.64
Office application benchmark score1.33
2D graphics application benchmark score1.76
Encoding application benchmark score1.53
Multitasking application benchmark score1.94
3D performance (crysis) low settings55fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition

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