Having dealt with raw application performance, it’s about time we look at arguably the more important metric for an ultra-portable: battery life. Here the TT predictably throws up some impressive sounding numbers. In the Productivity suite of MobileMark 2007 it managed five and a half hours, increasing to five hours and 50 minutes in the lower intensity Reader segment and back down to two hours and 45 minutes of DVD playback.
All of which, in isolation, sounds very good and for the most is very good, but a comparison against the TZ31MN we reviewed earlier this year doesn’t reflect so favourably. Incredibly, in the Productivity segment it managed over an hour longer, ending after six hours and 36 minutes, while in the Reader test the difference was an even larger one hour and 38 minutes for a total of seven hours and 29 minutes. Unsurprisingly this trend is continued in the DVD test as well, with an 80 minutes difference in favour of the TZ31MN.
This is largely down to the fact that the TT carries a lower capacity battery; a six-cell 5,400mAh one compared to the 5,800mAh of the TZ Series. This might not sound like a great deal, but it clearly makes a difference since the TT is resoundingly beaten by its predecessor. One can only assume Sony did this to keep the weight of the machine down, something that’s been made necessary by the slightly chunkier construction of the TT. Of course, this does mean that the TT does seem slightly sturdier, but we wouldn’t say drastically so and the trade-off is significant enough to raise an eye-brow.
One thing certainly hasn’t degraded, however, is the 1,366 x 768 16:9 aspect screen. This was always the crowning glory of the TZ and it remains so on the TT. In fact, thanks to Sony’s new screen coating, it manages to retain the stunning colour production and black levels without resorting to a reflective glossy finish. It’s the epitome of a win-win scenario and things are rounded off nicely by some incredibly wide viewing angles.
However, despite this visual splendour, the VAIO TT leaves us ever so slightly crestfallen. That it’s still the best 11.1in notebook money can buy is without doubt, but this is largely because it’s the only one worth mentioning. It’s a fact that clearly isn’t lost on Sony and we’d wager is the source of its less than competitive pricing. More worrying, however, is the fact that despite being the new model, the replacement to the TZ, the improvement between the two isn’t that clear. Yes, it is a bit sturdier than the TZ was, but this has come at the cost of inferior battery life, a heavier chassis and arguably a less attractive whole.
If you need an ultra-portable notebook and find the 13.3in alternatives, like the ThinkPad X300, too much to handle the Sony VAIO TT is still the best option out there. Yet, despite its manifest qualities, it’s an option that comes at too high a cost; delivering mediocre performance compared to its price point. Thus, unless Sony makes its pricing a little more realistic or money is simply no object for you, we couldn’t recommend it without pause.