The Bottom Line
Dec 10 2012 - Sony has essentially taken their 13-inch ultrabook model and scaled it up with a 14-inch display for the SVT14117CXS. This wouldn't be bad necessarily if they added extra performance or features for it. Instead, it features that same basic display resolution while adding extra size and weight. To make matters worse, it even has a smaller battery pack for less running time than its smaller version. The result is that if you like the design, you would be better off getting the 13-inch model.
- Faster Core i7 Processor With 8GB Memory
- Attractive Design
- Display Resolution Identical to More Compact 13-inch Model
- Below Average Battery Life
- Keyboard Needs Work
- Intel Core i7-3517U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive With 32GB Solid State Drive Cache
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet,802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMi, VGA, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.6" x 9.4" x .8" @ 4.1 lbs.
- Windows 8, Office Starter, Kaspersky Internet Security
Review - Sony VAIO SVT14117CXS
Dec 10 2012 - Many companies have been scaling up their ultrabooks from the smaller 13-inch displays to 14 and 15-inches. Sony has elected to do this to by offering the 14-inch Sony VAIO SVT14117CXS. The exterior design looks pretty much identical to the 13-inch model with an aluminum clad display lid with a black keyboard much the same as Apple's MacBook Air. Of course, it is larger in order to fit the larger display panel. This makes it an inch wider, half an inch deeper and a tenth of an inch thicker with a corresponding half pound of extra weight.
Powering the Sony VAIO SVT14117CXS is the higher level Intel Core i7-3517U dual core processor. This gives it an advantage over most ultrabooks that rely on the Core i5 processor but it still is clocked lower than the standard Core i3 laptop processors. This means it does do better in more demanding tasks such as desktop video but it is still going to be a struggle compared to a standard class laptop. It comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory which is the maximum that the system can handle and provides a smooth overall experience with Windows 8.
For the storage, Sony didn't stray very far from what many of the more affordable ultrabooks are using. This means that it combines a 500GB hard drive that offers a good deal of storage space with a 32GB solid state drive used for caching. This does help speed up the system when booting at just twenty-five seconds which is better than a straight hard drive but it still falls short of what can be achieved with straight solid state drive based ultrabooks. If you do need additional storage space, there is a USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage drives. Like most ultrabooks, there is no optical drive so you will need an external DVD drive if you want to use it with CD or DVD media.
So the main difference with between the 13 and 14-inch versions of the Sony VAIO T is with the display. Rather than uses the 13.3-inch panel, it uses a larger 14-inch panel. The only problem here is that the native resolution of the display is still restricted to the 1366x768 resolution. This is very disappointing as most of the ultrabooks priced near $1000 tend to offer higher resolution panels for increased work area and it essentially negates the benefit of going to the larger model. In addition, Sony offers touchscreen options on the 13-inch model which the 14-inch does not. At least it is a bit brighter than the 13-inch model but it still has the glossy coating that makes it not very functional outdoors. The graphics like just about every ultrabook uses the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is built into the CPU. This is fine for most work but it does lack 3D acceleration for even casual PC gaming still. At least it does offer the ability to accelerate media encoding when using "http://compreviews.about.com/od/video/a/What-Is-Quick-Sync-Video.htm">Quick Sync compatible applications.
While the Sony VAIO SVT14117CXS is larger than the 13-inch version, they use the exact same keyboard. Now that would not be a problem for many of the Sony laptops but this version has keys that are more recessed and have a very short travel distance that results in a very different experience. It also lacks a backlight which is fairly common for many of the ultrabooks. Similarly, it uses the same trackpad that is smaller than it should be considering the space available on the palmrest. It still does a good job with accuracy for single and multitouch gestures but the integrated buttons still don't match what Apple has achieved with their glass trackpad.
Surprisingly, the 14-inch version of the Sony VAIO T uses a slightly smaller 3760mAH battery compared to the 13-inch with its 4050mAH battery. This puts it well below most ultrabooks and full size laptops in this size range. In digital video playback testing, the system was able to run for just just under four and a quarter hours before going into standby. This is close to the four and a half hours that Sony gives for the running time but it is slightly below the competition. It's definitely much less than the Dell XPS 14 at six and a half hours but also is a half pound heavier.
In terms of the competition, there are a number of 14-inch ultrabooks including the ASUS VivoBook S400CA, Dell XPS 14, HP Envy Ultrabook 4 and Lenovo IdeaPad U410. The ASUS offers a slower general processor but makes up for this with a touchscreen that is very useful with Windows 8, Dell's offers longer battery life and a higher resolution display. HP offers a lighter overall design with slightly less general performance. Finally, the Lenovo offers a huge hard drive and dedicated graphics but with a weak display and poor battery life..