The Bottom Line
Oct 9 2013 - Sony's VAIO Pro 13 is an amazingly light laptop that makes it seem not much more than some of the larger tablets on the market. With its high resolution touchscreen display and very fast performance, it certainly seems like a candidate for those looking to get a capable and small laptop. The system is far from perfect though and has some big issues that Sony needs to address. These include it running quite warm, the durability of the silver color and the keyboard comfort.
- Fast Performance
- Extremely Light Weight
- Above Average Battery Life
- System Runs Hot
- Lid and Edges Can Make Typing Uncomfortable
- Silver Paint Job Not Very Durable
- Intel Core i7-4500U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4400 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, HDMI, SD Card Slot
- 12.68" x 8.5" x .68" @ 2.34lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Sony VAIO Pro 13 SVP1321DCXS
Oct 9 2013 - Sony's VAIO Pro 13 is the company's replacement to the venerable ZAIO Z series of ultraportables. This new ultrabook is incredibly light thanks to its carbon fiber chassis that was previous seen in the larger Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Even though it does use a carbon fiber body, this particular unit comes with a silver paint job to give it a metallic look. Unfortunately, this is probably not the best thing as the paint will eventually show wear and tear and expose the grayish black chassis below such that it would be better to opt for the carbon black color.
Powering the Sony VAIO Pro 13 is the latest Intel Core i7-4500U dual core processor. This is one of the fastest of the new ultra-low voltage processors that can be found in ultrabooks. It still will trail behind traditional laptop processors but it does provide it with with sufficient performance that it can do demanding tasks like desktop video, just not as quickly as more powerful laptops. The only downside here is that when the processor is under a heavy load for extended periods of time, the laptop can get quite warm on the bottom particularly near the back hinge. In addition, the cooling fan is noticeable. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory which allows it to run Windows 8 and applications smoothly.
As per the new Intel ultrabook specifications, the Sony VAIO Pro 13 relies on solid state drives for its storage. This model comes with a 128GB capacity drive which seems fairly typical for the mid-range ultrabooks. It does limit the amount of data, particularly items such as high definition video files but the performance from the drive is extremely good when it comes to reads. In fact, the system is able to boot up in under ten seconds. If you do need additional storage, the system comes with two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage. All of the ports are featured on the right hand side of the laptop which can get in the way for those that happen to use an external mouse. There is no optical drive on the system but that is standard for all ultrathin laptops these days.
The 13.3-inch display on the Sony VAIO Pro 13 may not be the highest resolution on the market but the 1920x1080 still provides it with a very sharp display that fully supports 1080p high definition video without having text or icons end up being too small in Windows 8. Overall, it offers a nice level of brightness but it has some contrast issues especially in dark video images that can end up with lost details. This is a multitouch compatible display which offers a nice level of responsiveness but accuracy can be a bit of an issue when using ones finger with the high resolution. The graphics are handled by the standard Intel HD Graphics 4400 that are built into the Core i7 processor. This is not something that will be used for PC gaming but it does offer acceleration for media encoding when using Quick Sync compatible applications.
The keyboard for the VAIO Pro 13 is like many of the others that the company has offered in the past. It is a nicely laid out isolated keyboard layout. The only problem is that the keyboard seems to have a bit too much flex to make it extremely comfortable and accurate as some of the others on the market. One other side note is that when the display lid is opened up, there is a lip on the bottom of the display that lifts up the base of the laptop for better airflow. This is fine on a tablet but can get in the way when on ones lap. In addition, the front edge of the palmrest area comes to a sharp edge which can also make it uncomfortable for the wrists. The trackpad on the system is a nice large size and uses integrated buttons. It does a fine job for accuracy both with standard and multitouch gestures.
Sony uses an internal battery pack with a capacity rating of 4740mAh. Sony claims that this will achieve up to six and a half hours of running time. This was a very accurate time by the company as it achieve just under this in my digital video playback testing. It is certainly longer than previous generations of the ultrabooks and was likely helped by Intel's 4th generation processors and their efficiencies. It still is unable to come anywhere close to the Apple MacBook Air 13 which lasted over ten hours in the same test.
Prices for the Sony VAIO Pro 13 range from around $1300 to $1500 for this model. This puts it very close to the likes of the Apple MacBook Air 13, Acer Aspire S7 and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. Apple's system has a much longer running time and larger storage capacity but has less performance, RAM and resolution. Acer's offering also has less performance and weighs a bit more but has a larger battery for longer running times as well. Samsung's offering also features less performance and memory but makes up for this with an incredibly high resolution display.