Sony always comes up with designs very different from the rest, be it phones or laptops. The Vaio T is an attempt to offer a stylish Ultrabook, and that too at a competitive price.
The Sony VAIO T11
Features and Design
The SVT11113FGS is an 11.6-inch variant of the Vaio T series. It’s small enough to easily slide into a handbag. Weighing only 1.4kg, it’s more convenient to carry than Ultrabooks with larger screens. Before delving into the technical specifications, we want to shed some light on the design because it’s much more interesting. It looks gorgeous from every angle. With the lid closed, the brushed aluminium finish with a chrome-coloured Vaio logo in the centre and a chrome strip running across at the rear looks great. The Vaio T is available in only one colour. The only piece of metal used in the construction of the body is the aluminium plate on the lid and it’s left uncoloured. The exterior of the chassis, palm rest and the screen frame are silver, to go with the colour of aluminium.
Brushed metal finish and chrome accents look excellent
Sony has paid good attention to finer details, in order to offer more comfort and make things more convenient. For example, the power button in the corner above the keyboard has a wraparound indicator that's visible even with the lid closed, so you can see whether the laptop is switched on or charging at any time. You’ll see two tiny rubber stubs on either side of the keyboard, and a long rubber strip above the screen frame to protect the screen itself from rubbing against the keyboard and palm rest. Indicators for charging status, hard drive activity and wireless status are placed on the front, below the touch pad. What we liked best were the two plastic bits cleverly placed at the back of the laptop, which slightly elevate the keyboard when you open the lid. This makes typing a bit more comfortable and also helps air circulate through vents at the base. The exhaust grille for the cooler is placed on the right hand side and the vents are placed around it. The USB ports, VGA output, HDMI port, card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, and a jack for a stereo headset are placed on the sides for easy access. The USB 3.0 port on the left is capable of providing power output for charging mobile devices even when the laptop is off, and without the power adaptor plugged in.
The USB 3.0 port outputs power even in off state for charging mobile devices
Now for the tech specs: The Vaio T SVT11113FGS houses an Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk. The suffix ‘U’ in the processor model number suggests it’s an ultra-low voltage (ULV) processor. It’s skewed towards good battery life with minimal compromise on performance. The hard disk is complemented by a 32GB SSD to make for a hybrid solution. It caches frequently used data for speedy booting of the OS and quick launching of applications and recovery from sleep.
The absence of a graphics processor helps the battery last longer. The graphics come courtesy of Intel's integrated HD 3000 GPU. The 11.6-inch LED-backlit display looks crisper than most of its larger counterparts because it has the same resolution of 1366x768 pixels resulting in a higher pixel density. 11.6-inches is a small screen, but it looks smaller because the frame surrounding it is about an inch thick, which takes away from the laptop's looks. A thinner frame would have looked more tasteful. Right at the middle, above the display are a 1.3 megapixel webcam and a microphone.
The keyboard is of the chiclet type and the keys are flat, not bevelled. The touchpad is nice and wide. It resembles that of a MacBook due to the absence of buttons; the click mechanism is located below the surface.
11.6-inch display and a chiclet keyboard
The Sony Vaio T comes with Windows 7 Home Premium preinstalled. The software bundle that Sony has provided is impressive. You get Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Microsoft Office Starter 2010. Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2012 comes as a 60-day trial version, and so does Norton Online Backup. Besides these, Sony has provided a few of its own apps such as Vaio Gate, Vaio Smart Network and Vaio Gesture Control. Vaio Gate is a launch pad that can be pulled down by pushing the mouse pointer towards the top of the screen. You can add or remove shortcuts to it by dragging and dropping icons. Smart Network allows you to enable/ disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Besides this, it also enables you to create network profiles in order to switch between networks with ease. With Gesture Control, you can control media playback, web browsing and slideshows by waving your hand in front of the webcam. It works best from a distance of a foot from the screen, but it worked quite well even 3 feet away. It comes quite handy when you want to view photos or control media playback from a distance.
Build quality and Ergonomics
The build quality of the Vaio T is top notch right from the chassis to small things such as keyboard keys and buttons. The lid feels sturdy thanks to the support provided by the aluminium sheet. The lid doesn’t wobble much when jerked or when you open and close it because the hinges are also very good.
The keyboard has very good tactile feel but the arrow keys are cramped in the corner
The SVT11113FGS is quite compact and the biggest challenge with such a form factor is to make it comfortable to use. Sony has kept the alphabet, number and essential keys such as Backspace Enter, Shift, Alt and Ctrl large. The function keys are relatively small and the arrow keys are tiny; it would be painful navigating spreadsheets and documents, especially for those with big fingers. However, the tactile feel of the keys is very good. The keys don’t travel much, but the feedback inspires a good level of confidence while typing. The amount of area provided for resting the palms is also good. Typing and using the touchpad are both quite comfortable.
In terms of pure performance, the Vaio T SVT11113FGS is almost at par with the Dell XPS 14, HP Envy 4 and Toshiba Satellite U840-X4310 which use the same combination of processor, memory and hard drive. The scores indicate the configuration is as capable as an entry-level desktop PC — very good considering you’re also getting a good battery life. It scored 2.38 points in Cinebench R11.5 and 3449 points in PCMark 11 (overall) benchmark tests. It lost a few points because the speakers weren’t up to the mark. The volume level was too low and to top this, the quality of sound was poor – we suggest using a portable USB-powered speaker, if you want to enjoy watching movies and listening to music. Battery Eater Pro reported 2 hours and 17 minutes in the intensive Classic Test that involves rendering a 3D image; it's very impressive. Under medium to light load, the battery should easily last between 4 and 7 hours. On the whole, the performance was very good.
Verdict and Price in India
Priced at Rs. 49,990, the Sony Vaio T SVT11113FGS is one of the most affordable Ultrabooks in the market. It’s stylish, super compact, feature loaded, well-built, and the battery life is excellent. It’s great bang for the buck, hands down!
Another variant of the Vaio T is SVT13113ENS that sports a 13.3-inch display, and has an Intel Core i3-2367M processor. The rest of the hardware is the same, but it comes with Windows 7 Home Basic instead of Home Premium. It’s priced at Rs. 45,990 due to the less powerful processor. That gives you a choice between the smaller and more powerful model, and the larger but less powerful one.
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