|Name||Ultrabook: Sony Vaio T (SVT13115FGS)|
|At a glance:||Intel Core i5-3317U CPU, 4GB DDR3L-1333 RAM,500GB 5400RPM HDD with 32GB SSD cache,13.3-inch, 1366 x 768-pixel display|
|Summary:||Portable, but an overly-reflective screen ruins the experience in indoor/outdoor light.|
The Vaio T series is Sony’s ‘ultra portable notebook’ range. The SVT13115FGS Ultrabook is the latest model in that series, and the only current model in New Zealand – letting us dispense with the ‘part-number’ of a name. We’ll just call it the ‘Vaio T’.
Cased in aluminium and silver plastic, this 1.6kg machine has what Sony calls a ‘full-flat’ design. Unsurprisingly, that means it’s fully flat when closed, as opposed to the tapered ‘thicker at the rear’ designs found on many laptops. Apart from making it sit nicely in tight-fitting laptop sleeves, I couldn’t really see the advantage.
The Vaio T’s 13.3-inch screen has the usual 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. That would be disappointing in a 15-inch model, but it’s adequate in the 13-inch form factor. Still, we’d have preferred 1600 x 900 – the common middle-ground between 720p and 1080p.
The screen has a semi-gloss finish which, combined with its limited maximum brightness, makes the Vaio T useless in direct sunlight. We know some people prefer glossy screens, and others prefer matte, but even indoors, the Vaio T’s screen acts far too much like a mirror to be comfortable on the eyes. I found myself getting a headache during prolonged use.
That’s a real pity, because otherwise the Vaio T is a great little Ultrabook.
Its closest competitor in spec is the Samsung Notebook Series 9, which uses the same Intel Core i5-3317U ‘Ivy Bridge’ processor, with 4GB RAM and on-chip Intel HD Graphics 4000. The 13-inch Series 9 is 440 grams lighter, and features a 1600 x 900-pixel display.
The Series 9 also includes a 128GB SSD, whereas the Vaio T offers a slower and less travel-friendly (but cheaper and more capacious) 500GB, 5400RPM hard drive. Having said that, that hard drive has an integrated 32GB SSD cache to improve speed. The differences in spec are offset by a difference in price: the Series 9 is $2,599 – almost $900 more than the Vaio S ($1,700).
Both laptops perform very similarly – weak in terms of 3D graphics, but capable in CPU-dependent tasks such as file compression, video and photo editing (with the exceptions of certain tasks that benefit from GPU-acceleration). It’s one of the better-performing Ultrabooks we’ve seen, and would suit those who need to lug their PC around but can’t get by on the weaker performance of a netbook.
Connectivity is average for the form factor – 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI and VGA outputs, full-sized Ethernet port, SD/MMC/Memory Stick card reader, and just two USB ports, one 2.0 and one 3.0. That last fact is a bit of a disappointment – two USB ports aren’t enough for most people – but it’s not a problem unique to this model.
Battery life in our intensive ‘productivity’ test was 3 hours 25 minutes. Oddly enough, this is exactly the same as the higher-performing but heavier-weight Sony Vaio S we reviewed in August. That’s a little below our average for the Ultrabooks we’ve tested previously (3 hours 49 minutes), and far below the Samsung Notebook Series 9 (4 hours 47 minutes).
The Vaio T is attractive, compact, and aside from its mechanical hard drive and shorter battery life, it makes a good ‘budget’ alternative to the Samsung Notebook Series 9. However, for a laptop designed to be portable above all else, the inability to use the Vaio T under bright lights makes it a difficult product to recommend.