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

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 13.3-inch screen has the same 1,366x768-pixel native resolution as the other T-series models. It's just that now you can tap away on it with your fingers and it will actually do more than just leave fingerprints. Windows 8 really is more enjoyable to use with touch, even if it's just for things like opening the Start screen.

However, I still find it a bit unnatural to reach across a large keyboard and poke at the screen (it'll take some adjusting I suppose). On the upside, the touch pad can be used for several swipe commands for the Windows 8 style interface, so you don't have to use the touch screen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The system I tested was the base configuration from Sony using a 1.7GHz third-gen Core i5-3317U processor, 6GB of memory, and a 500GB hybrid hard drive with an additional 32GB flash memory for quicker access to the operating system and other commonly used files. Sony does offer some additional component options should you want to configure your own, including solid-state drives, 8GB of RAM, and a Core i7 processor.

Sony Vaio T13 Touch Average for category [13-inch]
Video VGA plus HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, SD/Memory Stick card reader 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, SD card reader
Networking Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None DVD burner
The Vaio T13 Touch covers the necessary bases on ports and connections, including everything that I look for in an ultrabook: USB 3.0, HDMI, an Ethernet port, Bluetooth, and an SD card slot. The USB ports are limited here, but no more so than most ultrabooks. On the upside, one of them is a sleep-and-charge USB port, so you can connect a mobile device to charge up while the laptop sleeps.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery life
Considering it has almost the exact same components as the last T series we tested, it's not surprising that this one has same excellent battery life: 5 hours and 41 minutes. That's actually more than the life Sony quotes for the system.

Video playback battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Average watts (Load test)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Other than having faster memory and 2GB more of it, the $899 T13 Touch's internal components are the same as the T-series model we reviewed earlier this year. It's a good mix of components for everyday tasks and entertainment and it did well against similarly configured Windows 7 systems, beating or keeping pace with them in our tests.

The system also booted up pretty fast in less than 30 seconds. That's not as fast as SSD-based ultrabooks I've tested, but faster than a system running on a regular 5,400rpm hard drive.

Any additional demands that the touch display may have on system performance didn't seem to slow it down. Everything operated smoothly with no lag when quickly switching between Windows Desktop and Windows 8 style interface. Apps opened quickly and swiping between open windows was breezy.

The Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, by the way, can't handle mainstream PC games all that well, but for casual games, such as those available in the Windows app store, it's sufficient.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Warranty and support
Sony includes a standard one-year warranty with toll-free 24-7 phone support. Online and e-mail support is available as well

For the most part, the Sony Vaio T13 Touch is a fine laptop. Everything we didn't like about the non-touch-screen version is still here, including the lack of a backlight on the keyboard and the pedestrian resolution and quality of the display. It does have very good performance and battery life, though, and the addition of the touch screen does make using Windows 8 more enjoyable even if this isn't the most ideal design for it.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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