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Sony VAIO VGN-TT11WN/B 11.1in Ultra-Portable review

Andy Vandervell



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Despite Sony's reputation in ultra-portable computing stretching back years for many the release of the VAIO TZ11 was the defining confirmation of that mastery. Not only was it effortlessly portable, sleek and alluringly attractive, it delivered a gorgeous screen, an integrated optical drive and epic battery life. It seemed, at the time at least, to be something approaching perfection.

Technology, however, doesn't stand still. So while Sony sat back and watched the plaudits roll in, a few other companies began to plot a response. Apple brought out the MacBook Air, Toshiba the Portégé R500, Lenovo the ThinkPad X300 and more recently Samsung the confusingly named X360. So, despite none of the major challengers matching the TZ's 11.1in form factor, all of a sudden there's a lot more choice out there.

Enter the VAIO TT, Sony's response to its 'competition' and the replacement for the much loved TZ. Right from the off it becomes obvious Sony has taken its ultra-portable range in a slightly different direction, too. Unlike the TZ, whose executive price was sprinkled with styling of a more consumerist nature, the TT seems more trenchantly aimed at executives. Our sample, the VGN-TT11WN, is finished entirely in matte black plastic save for the faux-chrome edges and glossy strip at the front and though there is a striking gold version, as well as red lid option, the feature set and emphasis screams business user rather than impressionable style icon.

And, frankly, this isn't a bad thing. If anyone is going to pay for and appreciate the virtues of an ultra-portable like the TT, it's an executive or successful entrepreneur; the sort of person that isn't tied to the office but needs all the functionality of one. Unfortunately, having made this move, Sony has decided to take the mickey (we'd use a stronger word were we allowed) when it comes to pricing.

For sure, the T11WN is well featured, having integrated HSDPA, a high resolution screen, 4GBs of RAM, TPM security, Draft-N Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth, but you can pick up a ThinkPad X301 with all these features, a three year warranty (as opposed to one year) and a 128GB SSD for the same money. Our TT, in the meantime, must suffice with a somewhat sluggish 160GB 5,400rpm shock protected mechanical drive. And, as a quick glance at our benchmarks will reveal, a decent SSD has a pretty marked impression on performance so the benefits in a low-power machine like this are huge.

Still, before we throw the baby out with the bath water, let's not lose sight of the fact that the TT is still appreciably smaller and therefore more portable than the X300, X301 or any other thin & light 13 inch machine. Measuring just 279mm across and 199.8mm deep, it'll comfortably fit in any travel bag and leave plenty of space to spare. It's not necessarily the lightest machine, though. At 1.32kg it's not heavy per se, but it does weigh more than the 1.19kg of the TZ, while the Toshiba Protégé R600 is in another league of portability at around 800g.

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December 9, 2008, 5:21 am

Value... SIX!?

I've nothing more to say.


December 9, 2008, 7:57 am

Is that chrome? yealch. I prefer the tz over this.


December 9, 2008, 3:10 pm

Maybe I'm missing something here but what exactly does this this preposterously priced laptop do for the average businessman that a 𧸖 netbook doesn't? Oh ... Photoshop and Blu-ray movies. On a 11" screen that must be exhilarating....

Andy Vandervell

December 9, 2008, 3:21 pm

@basiccasic: Actually, quite a lot. Frankly, as good as netbooks are, for doing serious work they're just not up to task. You can't realistically use Outlook on a netbook, not without significant compromise, plus any serious multi-tasking between applications quickly becomes a chore. It's a popular thing to say "just buy a netbook" and if that suits that person then that's fine, but for people that need a serious ultra-portable notebook they're not a viable solution.


December 9, 2008, 8:13 pm

First off, I'm really happy to see you guys take your time with the video reviews. You guys give a tour of all the ports on the machine clearly and not too fast. Something that is missing on some other sites.

Secondly I think the design for eight is justified. I have to be honest, after reading the last batch of Sonys' ultraportable reviews I thought you guys would have fallen head over heels in love with this machine. But you surprised me! I always felt the TZ was underpowered and overpriced, like the Air, but you guys saw differently. I'm glad we see eye to eye on this though. The TZ looks much nicer, this looks a bit utalitarian to me. Kind of plain.

Third, with Sonys' own Z series offering much more power in a 3.3 pound package (only half a pound more than the TT, albeit a larger footprint and less battery life) I can't see the logical reason on picking this over the TT. I think the sub 13 inch space is becoming less impressive. Sure the TT and the Portege notebooks are small and light, but 3 pounds is hardly a hefty package to carry aroung and you get a bigger screen and keyboard. I wouldn't be buying this if I had the money. I'd probably be better off buying the Z series or the X301 and having a netbook as a companion device.

The upgrades are insanely high, kind of like Apple!

I wonder how many of these things Sony is going to sell. It seems like such a niche product now, well not as much as tablets, since the arrival of netbooks and 13 inch sub-notebooks.

And the value score of 6 speaks for itself! I must say I'm disappointed in this machine, like you guys said/eluded to, it doesn't do enough to justify its high price.

So I'll happily chug away on my Vaio SZ while I consider my next notebook, but it won't be one of these!

Andy Vandervell

December 9, 2008, 8:18 pm

Well in a sense the T-range has always been a niche, which is probably why Sony has chosen to price as it has - if you're not going to sell that many why not price it for maximum profit?

As the Z Series, the one thing the TT does offer is better battery life, but the fact it's not as good as the TZ was deeply disappointing. That said, as we discussed in the office earlier this morning, had this had a 128GB SSD at this price it would probably have got an award.


December 9, 2008, 8:59 pm

Good stuff lads, i thought you'd lost the notebook, after saying a review was due soon, back in early november :D

Anyways i agree with the review, the performance just lets this notebook down, that why i just purchased a Vaio Z instead, as it offers much better performance and i think MUCH better looks. I think the TT looks to plasticy and cheaper compared to the previous TZ model, which looks stunning. I also do not like the plastic covering the barrel, under the screen, where you only get to see the to silver hinges each end, ruins it. The silver sides also make it look cheaper more plasticy as well. Which is a shame, because the TZ was something else, they have in my opinion taken a step backwards on this TT model.



December 9, 2008, 9:22 pm

"if you're not going to sell that many why not price it for maximum profit?"

If you're not going to sell that many, why bother making them then? Wouldn't Sony be better off focusing on the Z series then? I recall Hugo writing "...it becomes hard to recommend the larger, significantly more expensive system over its smaller sibling. Apple has effectively beaten itself out of its own market." It appears to me that Sony has done the same with the situation reversed. I still can't see the reason for going with the TT over the Z series; even if the small size is desireable, cramped keyboard, cramped screen, much slower, and Sony wants me to pay more!!?? No way in hell!!! And those upgrade prices are mad!!!


December 9, 2008, 10:08 pm

@Ohmz - I agree mate especially when you look at the economy it is today, the TT prices are crazy. Didn't Sony have to lay off 8,000 staff today, so there obviously feeling it. Now I'm not saying selling a laptop at that price caused the the lay-off's :D, that would be a ridiculous statement but pricing the TT's at such a stupid numbers really doesn't do them any favours. The TZ was extremely popular, I know a lot of people who was disappointed with the TT when it came out, then to go and price a product that high, that doesn't even feel or look as nice as its predecessor, just doesn't quite add up.

John Ratsey

December 9, 2008, 10:24 pm

"For instance, upgrading a hard drive from 120GB to 160GB costs a hilarious 𧴦 a fact that, when announced in the office, almost caused Riyad to choke on his lunch." Nice one! What's the price of a spare battery?

As for the target market, the more senior people who might be able to afford this will probably find the screen impossibly small to read.


December 9, 2008, 10:52 pm

azza21, I agree wholeheartedly. Like Andy said in the review:

"...having integrated HSDPA, a high resolution screen, 4GBs of RAM, TPM security, Draft-N Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth, but you can pick up a ThinkPad X301 with all these features, a three year warranty (as opposed to one year) and a 128GB SSD for the same money. "

The X301 is far more desirable I think then this overpriced Vaio. And yes the TZ looked a lot nicer than this. When I look at the performance and feature set, considering the price, it reminds me a lot of the Air.

It doesn't add up to me either. I am not sure what Sony was thinking.

Btw, are you guys going to get a Vaio SR in? I'm looking at them right now. They look really nice.


December 10, 2008, 3:37 pm

Let's be clear here. The TT is not a bad product by any stretch of the imagination. If you want the ultimate in portable computing it is still without parallel (though arguably the need for a CD at all is diminishing further). Sure the styling my not quite have the flair of the TZ but it still looks stunning in the flesh and is very well made. It's ONLY fundamental failing is its price.


December 10, 2008, 7:30 pm

Well Ed I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree then.

Having seen the TT and used it briefly it is not, as you say, a bad product by any stretch of the imagination.

You think it's price, I think it's the emergence of notebooks like Sonys' own Z series and netbooks that are making these ultraportables seem outdated and something mainly a small group of people will invest in.

Half a pound more, bigger screen, faster performance, bigger keyboard, insanely high screen resolution, the Z series wins me over. I'm seriously looking at the Z for my next purchase. Looks really nice.

I agree that it looks stunning in the flesh, it is impressive that Sony is able to make such a tiny notebook. But it doesn't look so impressive compared to the 13 inchers coming out.

I think I get at what you're saying, you have to judge this notebook in its own class, and I suppose in its class it is king, but the above notebooks aren't far off and seem to me to be a much better investment. Oh well, we're all different, what makes the world a great place.

But if anyone has bought one, I'd love to hear about it.

P.S. Ed, lay off those video reviews and let someone else do them, okay! ;)


December 10, 2008, 8:59 pm

I wish that were an option!

I see what you're saying and for the most part I agree - just yesterday I was saying to Andy that my gut reaction is to defend the TT because it is nice but if it came to the crunch would I find its smaller chassis that much more appealing than the slightly larger alternatives. In the end I couldn't really decide but considering the pasting it was getting in these comments I thought it only right to point out what its true failings are and what is just people's personal purchasing opinion.

As I said in my previous comment (and I feel even more strongly about it now given what you and others have said), there may be a market for a CD-less version of the TT that sits more comfortably in the niche between a premium netbook and these larger portable notebooks. It would save weight and cost over the TT and the extra space could be used to make the chassis stronger or even thinner or even be used to further save money by using larger components.

Just a thought.


December 11, 2008, 4:04 am

Having an optical drive in a notebook is sooo 2007. ;)

I have to echo your statements Ed, I've only owned a PC for 18 months and I have NEVER needed the optical drive when I have been out; in fact I primarily use it to rip music when at home.

I was also disappointed to see only 2 usb ports on this machine. Sony should have gotten rid of the VGA port (DIE!!!) and put in a third usb, the HDMI will suffice and people can always use an adapter if need be.

If Sony is going to get rid of the optical drive, I'd like to see them move into the 12 inch space. At least they'll be able to fit in a full size keyboard. They could get the weight below 3 pounds. And they would have a great little machine that is not too big or too small. Can't let Toshiba have all the fun!

P.S. I have to say, I love the fact that you guys engage your readers. Some sites you leave a comment and never get a response, even if you insult them! But you guys don't seem to take anything lying down. Hopefully when TR gets bigger you won't forget about us!


November 17, 2009, 8:21 pm

The Sony TZ had a 60whr battery and the Sony TT has a 59whr. They are closer than it looks if you just go by the mAh rating. Sony managed the power management a little differently with the TT. You need to use the silent button in the power management control centre to obtain very good battery life. If you use this setting with either balanced mode or power saver and 40% brightness you're looking at around 7-8hrs battery life.

I own one and have tested it.

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