Sony Vaio T13 Touch review: Sony's solid ultrabook gets dressed with a touch screen for Windows 8

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MSRP: $739.00

The Good The Sony Vaio T13 Touch gives you the convenience of a full-size keyboard and touch pad with a responsive touch screen for experiencing the Windows 8-style interface. It has very good performance for its class and excellent battery life.

The Bad The T13 Touch doesn't have a backlit keyboard and it's on the heavy side (if you consider 4 pounds heavy). The screen doesn't go fully flat and its hinges aren't stiff enough to handle writing or drawing well.

The Bottom Line If you like the idea of having a touch screen on your Windows 8 laptop, the Sony Vaio T13 Touch isn't a bad way to go.

Visit for details.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8
  • Support 7

The Vaio T series is Sony's line of 13.3- and 14-inch ultrabooks that start at a reasonable price of $669. When we reviewed a $799 13.3-inch version of it back in June, we noted that it really didn't stray far from other slim Sony laptops like the Vaio Z.

For the launch of Windows 8, however, the company went all adding a touch screen.

Now, to be fair, it is a nice and responsive touch screen, but that and Windows 8 are really the only changes. Well, those, and a price bump up to $899 to get the touch screen and 2GB more of memory.

Basically, there are no surprises here; it has a good port assortment, performs well, and gets great battery life for its components. And it looks pretty good, too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Design and features
With its brushed-aluminum chassis, wide island-style black keyboard, and edge-to-edge display, the T13 Touch does resemble a MacBook Pro as well as other Windows laptops that use the same combination of basic laptop design elements. Setting it apart from the others is the angular body shape with a strip of chrome along the back edge of the display and a large chrome Vaio logo on the lid among other things.

When closed, the T13 looks slim and flat, but at nearly 4 pounds its heft is more than you'd expect a laptop with Intel's Ultrabook branding to weigh. It's certainly not a back breaker, but if you want something super lightweight, this isn't it.

When open, the lid tilts back and under the rear of the computer, but the hinge isn't all that tight. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, however since it doesn't stiffen at any position there's a bit of bounce when you tap or swipe on the screen. As long as you don't poke too hard it's fine, but Sony includes a drawing and painting application, ArtRage Studio, which requires some pressure to use comfortably. And since the screen doesn't open all the way flat, either, you can't even turn it upside down to write on it that way.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard is large with generous space between keys. If you like a lot of travel to your keys, you'll definitely want to try typing on a T13 before you buy. The keyboard deck is shallow so some typists might find it jarring to work on. Personally, I had no problems with it. What I did have an issue with is that this $899 laptop doesn't have a backlit keyboard.

The touch pad is large, too, but if you like discrete mouse buttons, you're out of luck; it's just one big pad. The software for the touch pad allows you to add multitouch gestures for things like two-finger scrolling, rotating photos, or pinch-to-zoom enlarging.

Above the keyboard are a few dedicated keys: Assist, Web, and Vaio. Assist launches Vaio Care, a service for diagnosing and fixing problems, while Web launches your Web browser of choice and Vaio launches Media Gallery or PlayMemories, part of Sony's music and photo software that comes preinstalled.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Front-firing stereo speakers are tucked onto the Vaio T's thick front edge, emitting sound via a small hole on each side. Sound quality is thin and tinny, but the speakers do get reasonably loud. If you're going to be doing a lot of listening without headphones, I recommend getting a set of external speakers.

As to be expected, the T13 has a Webcam built-in above the LCD. Its 1.3-megapixel camera provided "good enough" video and photo quality in good lighting, but low-light results were predictably noisy.

Price as reviewed $899.99
Processor 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U
Memory 6GB, 1,600MHz DDR3
Hard drive 500GB 5,400 HDD hybrid with 32GB SSD
Chipset Intel HM77
Graphics Intel HD 4000
Operating system Windows 8 (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 12.7x8.9 inches
Height 0.75 inch
Screen size (diagonal) 13.3 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 3.8 pounds / 4 pounds
Category Ultrabook

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