Competitive pricing has driven the cost of some Ultrabooks south of $800. Critics say the Sony Vaio T13 SVT13112FXS is the best cheap Ultrabook option, although the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 (*Est. $630 and up) also attracts some mostly positive buzz.
The combination of 4 GB of RAM and a third-generation Core i5 processor handles all but the most demanding chores smoothly, even though the CPU is a power-saving low-voltage model. A 32 GB solid-state drive teams with a standard 500 GB hard drive and provides boot-up times of less than 30 seconds and faster loading of frequently used applications. The Sony Vaio T13 also has an above-average battery life. Gamers will want to look elsewhere, however, as the integrated Intel graphics don't deliver playable frame rates. Critics recommend the Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 (Discontinued) and its discrete Nvidia graphics for that role, though it has a bit more heft.
The 13-inch Ultrabook is only 0.71-inches thick and weighs less than half a pound, so it's easy to lug around. Overall, reviewers say the non-backlit keyboard is solid and sturdy, although some find the shallow keys to be a bit uncomfortable. The biggest bone of contention is the touchpad, which doesn't have separate mouse buttons and instead relies on clicking down on the surface itself. Around half the reviewers think it's efficient and natural, while the other half find it jumpy and awkward, though not so bad as to render the notebook useless. Critics unanimously love the wide port selection, though the Sony Vaio T13 lacks an optical drive.
The thin, brushed aluminum notebook is sure to turn heads, reviewers say. Unfortunately, they also say the Ultrabook's display will also crane necks thanks to its poor viewing angles and slightly dim screen. The 1,366-by-768-pixel display resolution is also slightly lower than experts like to see. The Vaio T13's speakers are loud, but audio quality is hollow and lifeless, experts report.
The company offers email and phone support for its Vaio laptops along with helpful web-based FAQs and forums. Sony won a 2012 Readers' Choice award from PCMag.com in both the "work" and "less than a year old" categories for their reliable quality.
The system components perform well, the notebook itself is lightweight and attractive, and Sony has good brand reliability. However, if the ultrathin form factor isn't a must-have, you can find full-sized notebooks with more powerful components for a similar price, such as the Acer notebook mentioned above
Most of the top review sources subject the Sony Vaio T13 to stringent testing-based reviews, including PCMag.com, CNET, Laptop Magazine, ComputerShopper.com and others.
The Sony Vaio T13 fails to win an Editors' Choice award from PCMag.com, but it receives an "Excellent" rating and a heap of praise. Eric Grevstad finds the battery to last well beyond the category average and says the third-generation CULV Core i5 processor performs similarly to a second-generation Core i7.
Review: Sony Vaio T13 (SVT13112FXS), Eric Grevstad, June 4, 2012
2. Laptop Magazine
Amusingly, Laptop Magazine says the Vaio T13's battery life is slightly below the Ultrabook average. The publication appreciates the notebooks mixture of aesthetics, ergonomics, power and an affordable price, however, giving it a 3.5 (out of 5) star rating.
Review: Sony Vaio T13 Review, Sherri L. Smith, June 4, 2012
CNET's Scott Stein is slightly less impressed with the Sony Vaio T13, giving it a 3.5 (out of 5) rating. He likes that the notebook makes Ultrabooks affordable, and appreciates its design, but the lackluster display knocks some points off. Unlike other reviewers, he finds the keyboard to be "horribly shallow" and uncomfortable.
Review: Sony Vaio T Series SVT13112FXS Review, Scott Stein, June 4, 2012
4. Computer Shopper
Jamie Bsales calls the keyboard "mediocre" as well, but nevertheless gives the Sony Vaio T13 a near-perfect rating, an Editors' Choice award and a bevy of other honors. "Sony has set the bar -- and the price/performance level -- very high with this excellent machine," he writes.
Review: Sony Vaio T Series (SVT13112FXS) Review and Ratings, Jamie Bsales, June 5, 2012
The Sony Vaio T13 doesn't excel at any one thing, Engadget.com finds in this lengthy review, but it's well-rounded enough at a low enough price that the website calls it a "respectable specimen." The biggest drawback -- the shallow keys on the keyboard, Sarah Silbert reports; she found it uncomfortable.
Review: Sony Vaio T13 Review: the Company's First Ultrabook Targets the Back-to-School Set, Sarah Silbert, July 10, 2012
6. PC World
Though Sony obviously had to make some compromises to create an Ultrabook that costs less than $800, PC World says the Vaio T13 "delivers most of what you expect from an Ultrabook with some popular consumer features at a surprisingly affordable price."
Review: Sony Vaio T13, Yardena Arar, June 4, 2012
7. Notebook Check.net
NotebookCheck.net tests a European model of the Sony Vaio T13 that has different internal components, but the same ergonomics and design as its U.S. counterparts. The website finds the Ultrabook's design to be "impeccable" and likes its keyboard and touchpad, but says the "subpar" display is a big disappointment.
Review: Update Review Sony Vaio SVT1311M1ES Notebook, Patrick Afschar Kaboli, July 8, 2012