Sony's late entrant to the ultrabook race is very much a Vaio in terms of design language. That is, it has a solid plastic construction that tends to look slightly metallic, island keys, Assist, Web and Vaio buttons at the top right (which load Vaio Care, default web browser and either Media Gallery or PlayMemories), and a glowing green power button. It also feels dated, and, for an ultrabook, chunky.
There are two major variants for the Series T Vaios — 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, with a few options within each category, denoted by a string of letters and numbers that's far too easy to forget.
The variant in front of us today, the SVT11115FGS (rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?), has an 11.6-inch screen, a Core i5 3317U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB Toshiba SSD. There are signs that Sony got into this game late; most notably the single USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, when most competitors are now refreshing to at least dual USB 3.0. The screen sits, postage-stamp style, inside of a comparatively huge bezel, making it feel smaller than it is.
It's not a good screen, either; vertical viewing angles in particular are problematic, with bright colours very quickly blowing out to white, and you're left feeling as if you're never really looking at it from the optimal angle.
There's a full-sized SD card slot paired with mandatory Sony tie-in Memory Stick Pro Duo, a VGA port, an HDMI port and a very welcome, full-sized gigabit Ethernet jack. There's a headphone jack, but, like many ultrabooks, don't expect room for your external microphone.
The Synaptics touch pad is decent to use, and for whatever reason Sony has a version of its drivers that allows gestures for simultaneous double- and triple-finger tapping, which can be used to set to things like right-click and middle-click. While double tapping worked perfectly, triple tapping was completely ignored — a driver update is clearly required to fix the issue.
Sony's keyboard isn't backlit and does have a shorter throw than usual. It's not as bad as Fujitsu's Lifebook U772 and you do eventually adjust, but it can still be off-putting even after hours of use.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Under heavy load, the fan definitely makes itself known — but it does so without the accompanying whine that Fujitsu's U772 has. It also has a tendency to spin up quite a bit under idle conditions, something that puzzled us a little. Performance-wise there's nothing spectacular here; the Core i5 performs just where it should.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
A smaller laptop means decreased space for the battery, but the Vaio only just edges out the much more powerful, full HD + IPS, larger UX31A. We hoped for better.
The Vaio T is a decent if uninspiring little laptop. The vertical viewing angles on the screen are a major concern, and Sony has disadvantaged itself by only including a single USB 3.0 port and single-channel wireless.