It's made by Sony, it's a VAIO, and it's an ultrabook; which means if this machine does nothing else, it will look incredible. From a skin deep perspective, this notebook has it all: a sleek frame, a beautiful metal coat, its lightweight, and the keyboard and touchpad offer great feel and response. However, as consumers delve deeper, they are likely to be underwhelmed by the machine's lack of performance and depth. Equipped with only a third generation Intel Core i3 1.8GHz dual-core processor, the Sony VAIO does not exactly match the competition in terms of performance. The device will the meet the bare-minimum needs of most consumers, but those looking to do a little extra will quickly find the allure of this notebook's breathtaking aesthetics quickly fade due to its lackluster performance.
The 13.3-inch Sony VAIO TSV is basically the poster-child of what you would expect (visually) from an ultrabook. Every edge is slanted, the coat glistens reflecting light off of the thin metallic chassis, and even the embroidered VAIO lettering on the display cover embodies the suave sophisticated feel that this notebook strives for. Simply put, if you are looking for a device that looks the part, you would be hard pressed to find a device better suited than the Sony VAIO CXS.
Beyond simply looking beautiful, the compact 12.7-inch x 8.9-inch x 0.7-inch frame makes this device a breeze to travel with. Weighing in at only 3.5 pounds, the device puts little strain onto the consumer. I was easily able to traverse to and from work with this device in addition to my normal work notebook.
Considering the small slender frame that the Sony VAIO T sports it is quite sturdy. The thin metal chassis provides little to no flexibility when it comes to the body of the machine. Unfortunately given just how thin the display is, it does give when considerable pressure is applied. Luckily while the display does tend to give rather easily to pressure it still appears durable only offering a bit of rippling along the edges of the display, with no noticeable distortion in the middle of the screen.
Being an Ultrabook, it should come as no surprise that the Sony VAIO is not friendly to those looking to alter or upgrade their device. In fact, even removing the battery is a chore as it requires consumers to remove three screws before being able to access and remove it. Though, I guess consumers should be thankful even for that considering it is an Ultrabook.
Overall the Sony VAIO T provides a strong mix of portability and stability making it a solid choice for those looking to travel with ease and style.
Ports and Features
The small 13.3-inch notebook may not be loaded with ports but it does provide all the necessities and more importantly, the ports are spaced out and easy to access. The left side provides the power jack, a USB 2.0 port, and a USB 3.0 port. The right side offers an Ethernet port, a VGA video port, a HDMI port, a microSD slot, and a headphone/mic jack.
Left: AC power jack, heat vent, USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Right: Headset jack, media card slot, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet
While users may find themselves wanting a few more ports, the adequate spacing and accessibility of each port is a welcomed design choice. The only major flaw present with the current port layout is the lack of a USB port on the right side for consumers looking to use an external mouse. Other than that however, the layout is more than adequate; and users looking for more ports, will find themselves best served with a simple USB adapter.
Screen and Speakers
In contrast to the otherwise pristine aesthetics the 13-inch display of the Sony VAIO is merely average. That's not to say the display is terrible, but compared to how great everything else looks, one cannot help but notice how mundane the display appears by comparison.
The LED backlit display offers the standard 1366 x 768 resolution and a mediocre viewing experience along with it. The color contrast and clarity appears to be on-par with competing notebooks, certainly providing users with an adequate viewing experience, but failing to do much else.
The anti-glare display is a nice addition and works well in normal lighting conditions. However, the anti-glare feature does not help to dissipate feedback in extreme lighting conditions, or when the display is viewed from irregular angles.
The entire display is actually quite restrictive with its viewing angles. When viewed straight on the display provides a clear crisp image; however the integrity of the image diminishes rather quickly when viewed from different vertical angles. Titling the display forwards or backwards will make the display appear glossy as it reflects both light and objects, making it considerably more difficult to view the images on-screen.
Luckily the horizontal viewing angles are more generous, allowing for wider viewing angles without any noticeable image distortion. Thanks to the solid horizontal viewing angles, more than one person could potentially view the display comfortably, though both of those onlookers would have to be at the same vertical plane to view the images at full integrity.
The stereo speakers equipped with Realtek High Definition Audio are located on the bottom the device, with three crates present at the left-hand side of the chassis for the sound to travel through. With the speakers located on the bottom of the device, I was initially worried that the sound quality would be compromised. However, after testing the speakers on several surfaces (including my lap), the audio experience remained consistent, providing a secure level of quality regardless of the surface type.
Considering how small the device is, the speakers are more boisterous than you'd expect. I still wouldn't say that they are loud enough to provide audio to an entire room, but they certainly exceed what you would expect for personal use.
Additionally, the speakers are equipped with XLOUD technology, which allows users to enhance the level of audio without diminishing the sound quality. This feature does appear to make a noticeable difference in the audio quality. When testing the speakers at 85 percent and above, the audio quality barely diminished despite augmenting the sound levels. The only noticeable distortion that I experienced with the speakers occurred when I was playing a classical score at max volume levels.
Given how loud the speakers are most users will be more than pleased with 50 percent capacity, which delivers clear crisp audio quality. The only serious gripe that can be had with the speaker system is the lack of bass and treble. Those who want to feel their music, or are looking for a more tangible audio experience, will have to turn to an external sound system.
KeyBoard and Touchpad
Even with its small 13.3-inch frame the Sony VAIO T manages to provide users with a full Chiclet style keyboard that feels spacious and comfortable. Each individual key bares a raised texture, allowing users to easily grip the keys. Additionally, the added tactile feel of each key helps to counteract the disappointing shallow key depth that the Sony VAIO T sports.
Despite the limited travel distance, the keys still feel responsive quickly bouncing back into place after being compressed. The quick reaction and snap of the keyboard, along with the textured keys allows users to type with assured accuracy. Undoubtly, adding more depth to the keystrokes would have made this keyboard great, but it is still more than passible in its current form.
The Sony VAIO T also offers a multi-gesture touchpad (with Synaptics drivers). The generously sized metallic touchpad naturally coalesces with the rest of this sleek ultrabook. While lacking a bit of sensitivity, the touchpad is responsive and manages to read most commands almost immediately. Even most gestures are fairly accurate, though sometimes the device fails to read certain gestures such as enlarge (which requires the user to push two fingers apart).
Unfortunately the solid performance of the touchpad is over-shadowed by its design limitations with Windows 8. For those of you unfamiliar with Windows 8, the new start screen (formerly dubbed Metro) offers an array of live tiles. From this screen users can easily select tiles by simply clicking on them. This is all fine and well, except for the fact that the scroll function (dragging two fingers across the pad), can also be interpreted by the touchpad as a left-click. Thus, when users try to navigate the tiles on the start screen it's not uncommon to accidently select tiles when trying to scroll.
This may sound like a rather minor issue, but it can hold some seriously annoying implications. Each time a tile is selected it opens a new window, which the users is automatically directed to. While scrolling in the tile-based start screen, I have personally selected multiple screens at once finding myself redirected and diverted, from what should be a simple task.
As users get more comfortable with the touchpad, the unintended selections will decrease in frequency; but even as I find myself becoming quite comfortable with the touch pad, I occasionally select the wrong tile, especially when I'm rushing through the start screen. For this reason alone, I would suggest consumers consider using an additional USB enabled mouse.
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