Sony took their sweet time entering the Ultrabook market, but honestly, what was the rush? After all, they've been making incredible ultraportables long before Intel coined the Ultrabook name. But that class of $1,000 stylish portables is all the rage now, so Sony had to make something. And just as surprising as the Sony Vaio Z price drop (albeit that involved dropping the dock from the bundle), the Sony Vai T Series Ultrabooks start out at a crazy low $769. Who'd think Sony would underprice the competition?
And you get good merchandise for the price: a metal casing that looks unique and distinctly (trapezoidal) Sony. The notebook has a 13.3" 1366 x 768 display, which is standard fare for Ultrabooks, but the quality is better than average. Ultrabooks mostly have TN panels with weak viewing angles and middling colors, while the Sony has a larger sweet spot for viewing angles and strong colors. It's not the Vaio Z with its 1080p wide color gamut panel, but the T starts off at half the price.
Intel third generation Ivy Bridge Core i5 and i7 CPUs are here with the significantly faster Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. You can order the machine with a 1.7GHz Core i5 or a 1.9GHz Core i7. These are ULV (ultra low voltage) CPUs that use less power, generate less heat and aren't as fast as their full mobile counterparts in larger notebooks (with the exception of the Z that's wildly fast).
The Vaio T SVT1311 is available with hybrid hard drives that have 32 gigs of MLC flash memory to speed up Windows and that makes for quick boot and resume times. If you spend more bucks you can get a 128 gig SSD with 256 and 512 gig SSDs available (we're not sure how many of you would put a $1,000 512 gig SSD in a sub-$1,000 Ultrabook).
The Vaio T has 4 gigs of RAM soldered to the motherboard and a single RAM slot so you can upgrade to 8 gigs. RAM slots are unheard of in Ultrabook-land where everything is sealed inside and soldered on. In fact, the battery can be removed via 3 screws that have very wide slot heads (think penny or a nickel rather than a screwdriver). The Battery is 4,050 mAh, and Sony claims 7.5 hours of runtime, though we're seeing more like 5.5 with our Core i7 model. The notebook weighs 3.4 lbs. and that's a bit heavy for Ultrabooks that hover at 3 lbs.
In our video review, we cover the $1,199 model with a Core i7-3517U CPU, Intel HD 4000 graphics, 6 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. It scored 12,000 on PCMark Vantage (about 2,000 points higher than Sandy Bridge Ultrabooks) and 3,100 on 3DMark Vantage (nearly 2x faster than Ultrabooks with Intel HD 3000 graphics).
All models have Intel WiFi Advanced-N, Bluetooth 4.0 +HS and a 720p webcam with Sony's Exmor sensor. Ports are good for an Ultrabook with Gigabit Ethernet, headphone out, VGA, HDMI (full size), one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port with charging capability.