If you’re in the market for a small, yet powerful, lightweight computer that you can easily travel with, then Sony’s Vaio T Series Ultrabook Laptop might be worth a look.
Running on the 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, this sleek netbook provides many of the benefits of a home computer while still taking advantage of its mobility. The Vaio is 12.72 inches long by 8.9 inches wide and only 0.71 inches thick and so will fit inside most messenger bags with little hassle. And at only 3.32 pounds, carrying it around is a breeze.
But despite being so portable, it’s still quite a powerful machine. As a Sony device, one would expect the screen to impress. And it certainly does. The 13.3-inch 1,366×768 pixel LED display offers impressive playback of online video with impeccable sound to boot.
And yet, according to Windows’ diagnostics, the video card appears to be the weak link in the hardware. When running the Windows Experience Index (the operating system’s internal hardware rating system), I got a base score of 4.5 and this was the rating for the Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics card. Now this may not mean a hell of a lot to you, as it seems like an arbitrary number. But it’s significant that it’s the lowest value in the entire rating system.
Not because it’s unusual. Laptops tend to have lower ratings for graphics cards, but 4.5 is still a decent rating. (On Windows 7 machines, hardware ratings go up as high as 7.9.) And I had no issues playing HD video or using heavy graphic-intense software.
All this Windows Experience Index is saying is that the rest of the hardware functions even better. Or more, specifically faster. In fact, I have never seen a machine reboot as quickly as the T Series. As long Windows didn’t need to update, I could get the machine to do a restart in about 15 seconds. Much of this has to do with the Ultrabook’s 128 GB solid state drive (essentially a large flash memory card) which runs significantly faster than the old-school hard disk drives found in most desktops and laptops.
But the processors and RAM are much faster as well.
The Vaio T Series is a dual-core 1.70GHz Intel Core i5-3317U machine and runs on 4 GB of 1,333 MHz DDR3L RAM (expandable to 8 GB) and it includes a USB 3.0 port (which transmits data at up to 5 Gb/s) as well as the more standard USB 2.0 port. It also comes with VGA and HDMI outs to allow you to connect the computer to a second monitor or television. The 4,000 mAh also offers up to eight hours of power on the default brightness setting, though with heavy use, it’s closer to four hours.
And the heat dispersion is quite low. When I had it on my lap, I did notice a slight temperature increase after using it for awhile, but it pales in comparison to my own laptop, which bakes my thighs if I keep there for more than 20 minutes.
So as a media device, it’s certainly one to be reckoned with. But as a full-on computer, it falters slightly. The touchpad design is a little strange. Instead of having mouse buttons below the pad, it integrates the buttons into the pad. To left-click, you press your finger down on the bottom-left side on the pad and it dips in. To right-click, you press on the bottom-right side. This is all well and good as long as you never use the third mouse button. Clicking the centre-bottom of the pad does not work as the middle-click. And because of the design, you can’t press both the right and left “buttons” at the same time (often a substitute for middle-click on laptops) as when you press down on one side, the other side is raised as in a mini-seesaw. Also, the touchpad isn’t as sensitive as I would have liked. I had to significantly increase the speed in the mouse settings to compensate. I would recommend buying a mouse if you’re like me and use the middle-click a lot.
And admittedly, the keyboard takes a little getting used it. Personally, I’m more comfortable with the raised key design of a standard PC keyboard, while the Vaio T Series uses more of a Mac keyboard design. The keys are flatter and spaced out. Despite the small size of the device, I actually had a tendency to undershoot keys as I was hunting and pecking more often than overshooting them. But after a few days, it became second nature.
The Sony Vaio T Series Ultrabook Laptop is available at the Sony Store and other major electronic retailers for $899.99.