June 6, 2012
- Affordable price
- Large 500GB hard drive
- Above average battery life
- Solid performance
- Uncomfortable, unlit keyboard
- Subpar display quality
Ultrabooks are certainly not hard to come by these days, but the Vaio T13112FXS from Sony aims to be different. It has a sub-$800 price tag, a 500GB hard drive and a new Intel Core "Ivy Bridge" processor. While a really great deal, it does suffer from a mediocre display and an uncomfortable keyboard.
The notebook computer market is definitely a crowded one with the ultrabook niche quickly following suit. The new line of "Ivy Bridge" CPUs from Intel has spurred new growth in the notebook category, so this isn't the only laptop to come out recently. This is, however, the first ultrabook that we've reviewed with the new, third-generation Intel processor.
The design of the Sony Vaio T13112FXS remains in-line with previous Vaio S and Z models. It has an aluminum and plastic chassis that measures 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.7-inches (wdh) and weighs 3.4-pounds. It is definitely compact enough to slip into a backpack or briefcase without noticing it much. Just in terms of physical appearance, it looks a little different from other ultrabooks. The body has a trapezoidal design when you look at it from the front or back side. We did notice that when you open the screen, the hinge pushes down on whatever surface the laptop is resting on, which rises the entire laptop. We found this to be a bit odd and it could've been designed differently.
Sony includes an island-style keyboard with this new ultrabook, but it just doesn't feel right. The keys are extremely shallow and are almost flush with the deck's surface. This made for a fairly uncomfortable typing experience. The lack of a backlit keyboard also made us unimpressed. The multitouch clickpad, on the other hand, seemed to work well and is definitely large enough for multitouch gestures and navigating.
The 13.3-inch display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels, which is standard suit for ultrabooks. The display, however, seemed to lack in color quality as colors seemed dull and washed out. The brightness wasn't the problem, so we aren't quite sure what is. Sony coated the screen with a glossy-coating, so it suffers from reflections and problems in bright sunlight.
In terms of ports and connectivity, Sony doesn't leave anything out. You get one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, Ethernet, the usual audio ports and an SD memory card reader. There is also Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless connectivity. As with all ultrabooks, there is no optical disc drive included.
The internal specifications of the Sony Vaio T13112FXS include a third-generation Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive (w/ 32GB SSD drive) and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. The CPU and graphics see a definite bump in power compared to previous ultrabooks using Intel's second-gen setup.
When compared to these second-generation Intel powered ultrabooks, like the Dell XPS 13 we reviewed in March, there seems to be noticeable bump in performance. These low-voltage CPUs, however, still won't outperform the mainstream dual-core CPUs out there. Overall performance with this Sony Vaio T-series ultrabook was pleasant and had no hiccups during out testing. Graphics performance is still below the power needed for 3D gaming, but for the Internet, movies and the like, it does very well.
Battery life with the included battery tops out at 6-hours in our testing, which is about an hour longer than most other ultrabooks, including the Dell XPS 13 we mentioned previously.