Sleek and attractive design; Full HD touch-screen display; Solid performance and graphics; Compelling suite of multimedia apps
Keyboard on the mushy side; Small touchpad; Below-average battery life
The stylish VAIO T Series 15 Touch Ultrabook satisfies with a swift Core i7 CPU and full HD display.
Sleeker, slimmer, powerful -- those are just a few of the words that describe Sony's new Sony VAIO T Series 15 Touch Ultrabook. Hoping to hit that sweet spot of portability, productivity and entertainment, Sony has stuffed a i7 Core processor, a hybrid drive and a full HD touch-screen display and a compelling suite of multimedia apps into a svelte 15-inch chassis, all for $1,099.
The interior of the notebook uses a single aluminum panel. A recessed area houses the keyboard, adding some much-needed depth to the design. A pair of speakers, buttons for VAIO Assist, Web, VAIO Control Center and power sit atop the deck.
Weighing 5 pounds and measuring 14.9 x 10 x 0.9 inches, the VAIO T Series 15 is on a par with the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15t-4000 in terms of size and weight (5 pounds, 14.9 x 10 x 0.87 inches). The Dell Inspiron 15z is on the heavier side of the spectrum at 5.2 pounds, 15 x 9.8 x 0.9-0.91 inches.
A marigold Rolls-Royce with gleaming chrome accents offered a great contrast to Leonardo DiCaprio's stunning blue eyes during the 1080p "The Great Gatsby" trailer. Thanks to the sharpness, the actor's smile and frown lines were on full display as he vacillated between smug arrogance and rage.
At 319 lux, the VAIO T Series 15's display is dazzling, beating out the 228 lux mainstream average. By comparison, the HP 15t-4000 measured 289 lux while the Inspiron 15z gave a pale 146. However, we found that the VAIO T Series 15 suffers from shallow viewing angles that could barely accommodate two people.
The VAIO T Series 15's touch screen was responsive when navigating Windows 8's Modern UI. Cueing up the Charms menu and swiping between open programs was seamless. Performing a downward swipe to close apps and the right-left motion for the Recent Apps bar were quick, fluid motions.
We loved the richness of the saxophone in the background as we listened to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop." The lows were lacking, however, and we heard some distortion at maximum volume.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Typing on the VAIO T Series 15 was somewhat difficult due to the lack of travel. We scored 47 words per minute with a 2 percent error rate. That's worse than our usual 55 wpm/1 percent error rate.
Although the 3.9 x 2.25-inch Synaptics touchpad is centered beneath the G and H keys, it felt small considering the size of the deck. We constantly found ourselves clicking just below the touchpad. However, the touchpad delivered a fluid experience in terms of navigation and multitouch gestures such as two-finger swipe and rotate, three-finger flick and pinch-zoom.
The corners of the touchpad provided a nice amount of snap when clicking and accurately performed right and left click functions, as well as Windows 8 gestures.
After 15 minutes of watching "The Warriors" at full-screen on Netflix, the T Series 15's touchpad measured a cool 73 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys and the underside of the notebook were 86 and 75 degrees respectively. All of these temperatures are well below our 95-degree threshold, which is where things start to get uncomfortable.
Our review unit of the VAIO T Series 15 came with a 2-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive with a 24GB MLC hybrid drive and Intel HD Graphics 4000. During our testing, the Sony VAIO T Series 15 turned in strong performance. For example, we watched "Video Game High School" on Netflix while running a full system scan with eight open tabs in Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox -- all without stuttering.
The notebook performed just as well during our benchmark testing, notching a score of 4,409 on PCMark 7. That's well above the 2,684 mainstream average. Powered by a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i7-3317U CPU, the Dell Inspiron 15z scored 4,184 while the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15t-4000 and its 1.9-GHz Intel Core i7-3517U CPU notched 4,644.
The VAIO T Series 15 loaded Windows 8 in 18 seconds, easily beating the 0:47 average. The 15t-4000 and Inspiron 15z, which both have 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drives and 32GB mSATA SSDs took 0:16 and 0:21, respectively.
On the File Transfer Test, the VAIO T Series 15 duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 2 minutes and 55 seconds. That's a transfer rate of 29 MBps, which is a good deal below the 41 MBps average. The Inspiron 15z delivered 31 MBps while the 15t-4000 scored a slightly better 34 MBps.
During the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro Test, the VAIO T Series 15 matched 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses in 4 minutes and 50 seconds. That's 1 minute faster than the 5:54 category average. The 15t-4000 and the Inspiron 15 finished with 5:15 and 5:56, respectively.
During the "World of Warcraft" benchmark, the VAIO T Series 15 delivered a 28 fps frame rate on Good at 1920 x 1080p. That's nearly playable. The notebook cranked out a smoother 34 fps at 1366 x 768. The HP 15t-4000 gave us 24 fps at 1080p and 31 fps on 768p. The Inspiron 15z delivered 33 fps on 768p.
The VAIO T Series 15 yielded 14 fps on Maximum settings on 1080p, below the 35 fps average. It only performed slightly better on 1366 x 768p with 18 fps.
Sony's also included VAIO Movie Creator for amateur cinematographers. More intermediate and advanced users will gravitate toward Movie Studio Platinum 12.0. ACID Music Studio 9.0 and Sound Forge Studio are included to take care of your audio creation needs. Artists should check out ArtRage Studio, with its robust collections of tools to create digital masterpieces.
Third-party apps include Hulu Plus, I Heart Radio, Skype, Slacker Radio and a free 30-day trial of Kaspersky Internet Security.
Configurations and Warranty
Our $1,099 custom review unit of the Sony VAIO T Series 15 features a 2.0-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive with a 24GB MLC and Intel HD Graphics 4000. Sony also offers three preconfigured models: A $949 entry-level model has a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive with a 24GB MLC hybrid drive and Intel HD Graphics 4000. The $1,149 version has a 2.0-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive with a 24GB MLC and Intel HD Graphics 4000. The $1,399 model is outfitted with a 2.0-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. The VAIO T Series 15 comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
|CPU||2-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||750GB + 24GB MLC|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive + mSATA SSD|
|Optical Drive||DVD /- R|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Wi-Fi Model||Qualcomm Atheros AR9485WB-EG Wireless Network Adapter|
|Touchpad Size||3.9 x 2.25 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone/Mic|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Card Slots||Memory Stick|
|Size||14.92 x 10.04 X 0.9|