Earlier this year, Sony made its debut entry into the ultraportable market with the Sony Vaio T Series SVT13112FXS. While the company’s inaugural ultra was a good one, it wasn’t particularly impressive.
At $799, it had the following Sony laptop parts under its hood: A 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 4 GB of 1,333 MHz DDR3 RAM, a 500 GB 5,400 rpm hard disk drive hybrid with a 32 GB solid state drive, and an Intel HM77 chipset with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics processor. The laptop parts are very serviceable, to be sure; but other ultras with similar specs have already come before it. Suffice it to say, nothing really separated a Vaio ultra from the crowd.
That is, until now.
While not exactly a re-release, Sony has seen fit to upgrade its ultraportable offering by adding a new feature: Touchscreen capability. The technology isn’t exactly new, of course, but most laptops of this size with this feature are usually tablet hybrids. The new Vaio T13 instead opts to make itself Windows 8-ready without having to resort to a hybrid design, thereby making it a cheaper alternative for those looking to install Microsoft’s latest operating system on a portable PC.
The Sony laptop parts powering it are largely the same as the non-touchscreen release, except for upgraded RAM (6 GB of 1,600 MHz DDR3 this time), and of course the screen itself.
Speaking of the screen, it’s still the same 13.3 inch gloss-coated display with 1,366 x 768 pixels of resolution; standard fare for laptops of this category. Its touchscreen function, though, leaves something to be desired. Swiping commands on the screen is responsive enough, but pressing on the screen makes it wobble due to the apparently weak display base. That shortcoming alone might be more than enough reason for consumers to deem the touchscreen function a flawed upgrade.
Traditional control inputs don’t help matters, either. Possibly due to a desire to make the laptop as thin as possible, Sony decided to make the keys on the keyboard quite shallow. While okay aesthetically, that palpable feeling of pressing keys takes a decidedly significant hit.
The touchpad, meanwhile, does what it can; but like most touchpads, users will be left sorely missing the feel of a mouse in their hands.
That said, users who are able to overlook these faults should find the Vaio T13 a mean enough machine. Aside from the hardware specs mentioned above, it also features VGA and HDMI video ports, two USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0), an SD card reader, Bluetooth, and Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity. Along with the laptop parts mentioned above, and at $899 SRP, the Sony Vaio T13 should be perfect for those looking for a cheaper alternative to the Sony Vaio Z and/or a laptop hybrid. Furthermore, with Windows 8 looking to revolutionize operating system interfacing, Sony’s touch-enabled 13-inch ultra is as good a computer to start on the new OS as any.