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Sony Vaio Pro 13 review

Michael Sawh

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Pros

  • Incredibly light
  • Class-leading screen
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Battery life short of MacBook Air
  • Temperamental touchpad

Key Features

  • 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen display; 1.5GHz dual-core Core i7 (Haswell) processor; 4GB RAM; 128GB PCIe SSD drive, 1.06 kg, Windows 8 Pro, NFC enabled touchpad
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £999.00

What is the Sony Vaio Pro 13?

The Sony Vaio Pro 13 is the world’s lightest 13-inch ultrabook, at least that's Sony's claims. Bag-friendly credentials aside, the Pro 13 has a fourth generation Intel Haswell processor and a full HD touchscreen display, which harnesses Sony’s TV tech smarts to give it an edge over rivals.

With a starting price of £999 and a sleek design that is a welcome departure from previous uninspired Windows 8 portables, the Vaio Pro 13 shapes up as a genuine rival for the 13-inch MacBook Air. Does it deliver? Here’s our verdict on the Sony Vaio Pro 13.

Sony Vaio Pro 13 ultrabook pictures

Sony Vaio Pro 13 - Design & Build Quality

On the whole, premium ultrabooks have tried to mimic the aluminium unibody look of the MacBook Air, so it’s refreshing to see Sony taking a different approach with the Vaio 13. It uses the same flexible carbon fibre body used for Vaio Z Series laptops, but the Pro 13 is more angular than curvaceous and the result is a beautiful-looking laptop that you would not be embarrassed to pull out in public.

The Pro 13’s 1.06kg weight is its key claim to fame – its 290g lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air (1.35kg) and 70g less than the already very light Samsung Series 9 (1.13kg). To put that into perspective, the Microsoft Surface Pro – a tablet – weighs 910g and it actually weighs more than the Sony Vaio Pro 13 when its Type Cover is included. Its 17.2mm thickness matches the MacBook in the slenderness department, but it really is a supremely slim and light ultrabook that we barely noticed when we slipped it into our bag.

The hinged lid raises the body just slightly off a table surface to offer a comfier angle to work. The hinge also hides the full-pitch chiclet-style keyboard, which comes complete with backlit keys, a brushed aluminium palm rest and an all-in one touchpad.

All the ports and physical connections are at the sides, with the A/C power adaptor on the left edge and all other major ports over on the right edge of the device. These include an SD card slot, headphone jack, two USB 3.0 ports (one with standby charging) and HDMI.

There are a couple of nice surprises inside the box, too. One is a handy wireless router device that plugs into the AC adaptor to provide a Wi-Fi network for up to five devices, and an HDMI to dual-VGA dongle so you can connect two monitors to the Pro 13 – a very useful feature for the home office. This comes as standard on our test version, the Sony Vaio Pro 13 SVP1321M2EB, but it's a £60 option on the £859 version available direct from Sony's website.

Sony Vaio Pro 13 ultrabook pictures 3

Sony VAIO Pro 13 - Screen Quality

For all the Pro 13's lightness, however, the 13.3-inch Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 display is clearly the true star of the show. It’s immensely vibrant and bright, which makes it great for watching high-definition films and video, and the touchscreen is responsive and adds a new dimension to the Windows 8 interface.

Sony has also incorporated Triluminos Display technology from its Bravia TV range of products and it really shows, delivering deep blacks that generate a rich picture quality and levels of clarity that are some of the best we’ve seen on an ultrabook.

This subjective view is supported by our analysis using our Xrite i1 Display Pro colourimeter tool, which measured an excellent 1,215:1 contrast ratio and a super bright 372 nits peak brightness. In colour tests the screen’s 6419K colour temperature is pleasingly close to the 6500K benchmark, as is the 1.31 DeltaE colour accuracy – anything below 1.5 is very good, especially for a laptop.

Viewing angles are particularly wide thanks to the IPS display tech, however the glossy finish on the screen does mean it suffers from severe reflections in sunlight and the odd finger smudge or two. Sony has also included its X-Reality mobile picture engine, which aims to clear up the sharpness of videos and movies, but it’s difficult to notice any substantial leap in quality for non-HD content.

MACH 3 COMPOSITES

June 6, 2013, 5:47 pm

A great looking laptop with some nice features. We make high end carbon fiber cases for laptops and look forward to making a custom case for the 13" Viao Pro.

TheJeebus

June 7, 2013, 11:56 am

Why is 4GB still the default? It's good that 8GB is available, but I really want 16GB, which should be an option on a $2K+ laptop.

Aaron

June 9, 2013, 4:42 pm

imho, you're looking at the wrong laptop.

This is a mobile, long battery life powerhouse, not a desktop replacement.

That's like asking for 4 wheels on a bike. Maybe you should be looking for a car.

16gb of ram would be overkill considering this only has intel gfx and a 'U' processor.

TheJeebus

June 9, 2013, 7:16 pm

1) RAM is cheap these days.
2) More RAM doesn't weigh more
3) More RAM doesn't affect battery life

There's just no excuse.

Tsais

June 11, 2013, 2:12 am

I'd prefer it matching up to the Samsung's weight to reduce the excessive body flex... it just feels too unstable.

The keyboard backlight bleeds like hell too.

Lastly, its lacking in CPU options: only the crappy Core i7-4500U and Core i5-4200U are available on Sony's U.S. store, neither of which sport the new IRIS GPU. The HD-4x00 GPUs they have use the same crummy 16 EUs of the old Ivy Bridge HD-4000.

We need one of these for the new IRIS graphics:

Core i5…4350U…Iris 5000 (GT3)…15W…1.5 GHz
Core i7…4550U…Iris 5000 (GT3)…15W…1.5 GHz
Core i7…4650U…Iris 5000 (GT3)…15W…1.7 GHz

Tsais

June 11, 2013, 2:20 am

You don't even know what he wants to do with it.

16 GB are great if you run virtual machines for development or large IDE environments on the go.

Notice he wasn't asking for a dedicated GPU or a high TDP processor, just memory, which is neither heavy nor does it take a lot of power.

There was some ultrabook that offered up to 16GB, but I forgot where I saw that...

Aaron

June 11, 2013, 5:13 am

At least you make a good point. But is that what he wants to do? Coz it seems like he just wants it for the sake of it.

Not saying that he's like that, but it's always amusing to see people go for maximum specs just because they want it. To use word.

Thing is there's only 1 slot for the mobo, and I suspect it's to save space and cost. They probably thought most people who buy this only needs 8gb, not to mention having 1 less ram slot probably saved them a bit of money.

Aaron

June 11, 2013, 5:13 am

Space and price.

I believe there's 1 ram slot on this system instead of 2. It could effect the cost of the mobo because everything else has to be a little smaller to make room for that extra ram.

Though I'd be with you if you said they could've done it on for the 13". But I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to save cost by using the same mobo on both the 11 and 13.

It's sony, where their great products are always hacked by accountants.

Tsais

June 14, 2013, 1:57 pm

I've been known to keep north of 1000 tabs open in google chrome sometimes.

RAM helps that habit greatly :D

Anukul

June 14, 2013, 6:10 pm

16 gb is overkill for a pc too and we are talking ultrabook here

TheJeebus

June 17, 2013, 12:39 pm

Maybe for your usage. Not mine. Try running one or two virtual OS installs and you're out of mem quickly.

TheJeebus

June 17, 2013, 12:40 pm

Yep, that's what I want. Running virtual OSs takes a lot of memory.

MikkaMakkaMoo

June 24, 2013, 12:47 pm

Does the HDMI port support resolutions of 2560x1440?

DigitalFury

July 1, 2013, 6:20 pm

"Battery life short of MacBook Air"

LOL !

Even you mention that with the removal/optional sheet battery, it weights the same and has the same battery life as the MacBook Air.

So with this Vaio you actually have ***a choice*** (unlike with the MacBook Air) between the least weight possible or super battery life.

Yet this is a "Con"

Unbelievable

Brian O'Neill

July 2, 2013, 9:25 am

I got the dell xps 13 and the trackpad is woeful. Trackpads on windows ultra books all seem to be terrible. If you are considering buying an ultrabook I would strongly advise you to refresh what the trackpad is like on the machine, as they can be incredibly frustrating to use.

Gareth Barber

July 2, 2013, 10:18 am

Does the air loose a star for not being as light as this?
No? why should this loose one for the battery difference?

Sachin Thakur

July 2, 2013, 10:16 pm

Bear in mind that the UK & European version is only SATA SSD and not PCIe SSD. Confirmed this on my Sony Vaio Pro 13.

Illuminatus66

July 6, 2013, 12:28 am

1000?
That seems slightly OCD
:)

Tsais

July 6, 2013, 9:07 am

I can't figure out if Apple was just the only one saying they will use nothing except a processor with IRIS GPU, or if Intel is playing favorites with Haswell supplies...

Asus, Samsung and Acer are not usually slow in putting their stuff to market, but somehow, Only Apple has instant Haswell HD-5000 stock to sell on their announcements, and only Sony has ample supply of Haswell HD-4400 chips to sell with their Vaio Pro.

If you've tried to get a Haswell system from the other guys, you will have noticed they have nothing. Its highly unlikely that Asus & Co haven't got their new mainboards ready to go, so what's holding them up?

I guess they're not Intel's most favored customers... Maybe Intel doesn't like them for also building ARM devices, and makes them wait, till their best friends Apple and Sony could grab all the early sales?

Since the Computex announcements, its been absolutely dead... no new product besides Apple and Sony.

Maybe Intel is more friendly to those bores at HP or Dell? I don't usually check them anymore, as I've never found anything I wanted to buy there...

Tsais

July 6, 2013, 9:09 am

As opposed to the U.S. versions or the Japanese versions?

Tsais

July 6, 2013, 9:10 am

You're right about that...

But the Sony should loose a star for not insisting on a Haswell processor with IRIS HD-5000 GPU, like Apple...

Sachin Thakur

July 6, 2013, 9:19 am

The US & Japanese versions both get PCIe SSD. Check Sony UK website and configure your Vaio Pro, & see what options you get for SSD. Only SATA. Then check US & Japanese websites. It's PCIe there. There is an owners' thread on Notebook Review forum in Sony Owners' Lounge. This has been discussed extensively there as well.

Sachin Thakur

July 6, 2013, 9:25 am

Although, I must say that in real use for day to day work, you're unlikely to see the benefits of PCIe SSD over mSATA. My Vaio Pro 13 takes only 3 seconds to start from switching on, and only 1-2 seconds to wake up from sleep.

Sachin Thakur

July 6, 2013, 9:26 am

No

Gareth Barber

July 6, 2013, 10:25 am

Not sure there is much in it, crappy intel graphics vs slightly less crappy intel graphics.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/...

A big % increase in some cases but those games may still be unplayable.
The slightly faster CPU over the air is probably the better choice as neither are games machines and you'd be a fool to buy either for that, crunching some numbers faster (i.e. compiling and deploying a dev build) are more likely uses.

I'd rather an discrete graphics switch like my Z (2010) and use the integrated for desktop work. In fact that laptop is probably still the pinnacle for desktop replacement machines, Quad SSD's (single ones only now getting faster), proper mobile not U CPU, Optical drive and switchable discrete GPU all weighing just over 1kg and with the larger battery option giving 9 hours usage.

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