Sony Vaio Pro 13 review
With a stunning 13in full HD touchscreen, is this ultra-light 1kg machine a potential best friend for business users?
Many OEMs have tried to differentiate their Ultrabooks by gambling on wacky form factors. It’s reassuring to see Sony shun awkward gimmicks to concentrate on the basics.
And the result is the superb Vaio Pro 13 - a lightweight, powerhouse of a laptop with a crisp display.
Light on its feet
There’s nothing loud about Sony’s design, but it quickly becomes clear that the Vaio means business. Its clean lines and angles look sharp, and the brushed metal that coats the exterior makes the Vaio Pro look more elegant than any of its rivals – with the possible exception of the all-aluminum MacBook Air.
The Vaio Pro is one of the best-looking laptops on the market, but it’s the weight, or lack of it which will grab people's attention. The Vaio Pro tips the scales at 1,050g, and that makes it one of the lightest laptops ever – the latest MacBook Air is a practically portly 1.33kg.
The Sony feels disarmingly light, and, when combined with the 18mm-thin frame, it’s easy enough to pick the Vaio up and fling it around. It feels like an empty display sample rather than a proper laptop.
The feather-light design and carbon fibre construction comes with their own compromises. The Vaio’s frame is bendier than any of its rivals, with lots of flex in the wrist-rest and screen – we’d invest in a case if we were going to carry the Vaio on a daily basis. The aluminium-hewn MacBook Air is much sturdier.
Like most other Ultrabooks, the Vaio Pro’s slimline dimensions mean that it’s not overloaded with ports and sockets. The right-hand side has two USB 3 ports, an HDMI socket and an SD card reader, and there’s nothing on the left-hand edge.
The slimline nature of the Vaio may raise build quality concerns but, when it comes down to business, there’s nothing to worry about. The now-standard Scrabble-tile keyboard is excellent, especially when the Vaio’s size is considered. The keys are responsive, and there’s a surprising amount of travel available on each button. The action is comfortable and consistent, and there are no surprises when it comes to layout. The touchpad is good, too, thanks to its size and accuracy.
Sony should be commended for cramming a 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen inside a panel that’s so slim. The screen isn’t just notable for being thin – it’s a high-quality too. The measured maximum brightness of 345cd/m2 is good – the MacBook Air measured 325cd/m2 – and it’s partnered by a stunning contrast ratio of 932:1, again better than the MacBook. That makes for a screen that’s punchy with a wide colour gamut, with good distinction between bright white shades and the darkest blacks.
The Sony’s colour temperature and gamma levels are positive too. The display’s average Delta E or 3.1 is one of the best we’ve seen from a laptop – the MacBook scored 4. Viewing angles are also good. The touchscreen layer adds a tiny bit of grain to the screen, but it’s barely noticeable – this is one of the best screens we’ve seen on a lightweight laptop.
OS: Windows 8 64-bit
PROCESSOR: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U
RAM: 4GB DDR3L low-voltage
STORAGE: 128GB SSD
SCREEN: 13in 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen
CONNECTIVITY: dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4
PORTS: 2 x USB 3, HDMI, SD card reader, headphone jack
DIMENSIONS: 322 x 216 x 18mm (WxDxH)
WEIGHT: 1.05kg (1.5kg)
WARRANTY: 2yr RTB