Ultrabook reviews 2014, scoops and comparisons

Sony Vaio Pro 13 review – great Haswell business ultrabook

Sony Vaio Pro 13 review – great Haswell business ultrabook
By Andrei Girbea - @andreigirbea , last updated on 10 Jun 2013
Summary: The Sony Vaio Pro 13 is an awesome ultrabook, with an angular design and a 2.4 lbs light body. Powered by an Intel Haswell platform, sporting a touchscreen and a very good keyboard, the Pro 13 is definitely something to look at these days. If only it were a bit sturdier...
Rating: 3.5 / 5   Price range: $1250 - $2700

THE GOOD

looks awesome and unique, weigh only 2.4 pounds, sports a very good touchcreen and a comfortable keyboard; snappy everyday performances; long battery life; loud and clear sound system

THE BAD

too flexible, pointy corners, annoying glass on top of the screen, not the best trackpad, can get noisy when pushed, wi-fi problems

You can see the Sony Vaio Pro 13, the ultrabook we’re going to review for you in this article, as a successor for the famous Vaio Z lines of business laptops.

There are of course plenty of details setting the new and the old Sony Vaios apart, including their raw performances. But with Haswell, low-voltage platforms have reached an all-time best. They are still not incredibly powerful, but can deal with most everyday tasks at ease, while running for many hours each charge.

And that’s what’s expected from a business machine these days, among others. It should also be thin and light, durable so it will withstand the daily hassle, and secure. The Vaio Pro 13 can’t thick all the check-boxes, at least not the base configuration that we tested here. But it ticks most of them.

So, without any further ado, let’s jump to it. Read the article below and watch the videos. And if you have any questions or look for further clarifications, drop me a line in the comments section at the end of the post.

Sony Vaio Pro 13 video review

But before we get to the actual review, the video below will tell you most of the things you should know about this Vaio.

The specs sheet for the Sony Vaio Pro 13 SVP13

Sony Vaio Pro 13 SVP13
Screen 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, Triluminos
Processor Intel Haswell Core i5-4200U CPU
Chipset Intel HM87
Video integrated Intel 4400 HD
Memory 4 GB DDR3
Storage 128 GB SSD
Connectivity Wireless N, Gigabit Lan, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
Ports 2xUSB, SD card reader, HDMI
Baterry 38 Wh
Operating system Windows 8
Size 322 x 216 x 17.2 mm (12.68″ x 8.50″ x 0.68″)
Weight about 1.1 kg (2.4 pounds)
Extras backlit keyboard, Ethernet to wireless dongle included

Design and exterior

The 13 inch Vaio Pro is for sure one of the most beautiful laptops I’ve ever seen. It also feels like a high-end laptop should. Sony went for a fiber carbon body on their new premium notebook, used for the entire outer case and the area around the keyboard, while the palm rest is covered in aluminum. The carbon fiber shell is grippy, but will also catch smudges quite easily and the matte surface is not that easy to wipe clean.

Ditching the aluminum case, something most other manufacturers offer for their ultrabooks, helped Sony lower the weight of their Pro 13 to only 2.3 – 2.4 pounds, or under 1.1 kilos, while most competitors go for about 2.7 to 3 pounds these days.

Sony Vaio Pro 13 - a sleek and light ultrabook

Sony Vaio Pro 13 – a sleek and light ultrabook

It also helped them get a laptop that doesn’t look like any of its competitors. The Pro is definitely a beauty, with its angular design and very slim profile. Sony made sure everything fits just perfectly on this notebook, with an exceptional care for details and overall manufacturing quality. However, its sharp edges and especially the pointy corners don’t make it exactly the most comfortable to use, as those corners will bite deep into your wrists when typing for hours, like I did.

Still, while annoying, that’s not that big of a problem. The overall lack of sturdiness however, could be. The laptop flexes and bends no matter how you use it. See the video for details. Having it on my desk and pressing the keys caused the entire body to flex, grabbing it makes the lid-cover bend and so on. My contacts at Sony claim the Pro is specifically designed with a certain amount of flexibility in mind and is tested to withstand all sorts of usage scenarios. That might be so or not, only time will tell, but I for one would surely feel a lot more confident in this laptop if it were sturdier.

In fact, the stiffest part of the laptop is the glass covered screen, which holds firm while taping it, swiping, etc. On the other hand, the lower body beneath the keyboard is flimsy. Once again, just to be clear, the laptop is not poorly built, but because it bends and flexes easily, it surely doesn’t give the best of first impressions.

Magnesium body and an angular design

Carbon fiber body and an angular design

The bottom of the laptop is just as flat as the top. You do get some rubber feet and a slice battery connector in the middle down here, while on the sides, there’s the PSU with a charging LED and a cooling grill on the left, plus the SD card-reader, microphone-headphone jack, two USB ports and a full-size HDMI connector on the right.

There’s no Ethernet and no VGA. However, Sony does bundle an HDMI to VGA extension in the pack, and a LAN to Wireless dongle, but more about it a bit later.

All in all, the Vaio Pro 13 is an astonishing looking machine, with a sharp angular design and a thin and light body.

This does make the laptop a bit too flimsy for my liking and maybe for its well being (speculation, hopefully time will prove me wrong), but surprisingly, the Pro is also very well balanced. You can lift the screen with only one hand and the lower body will slightly raise on the plastic pads on the lower edge of the display, which leads to better cooling and a more comfortable typing angle.

Keyboard and trackpad

Speaking of that, the keyboard on this Vaio Pro 13 is surprisingly very good. The keys are proper sized and spaced and have enough travel for a machine this thin. The layout is nice as well, although those tiny arrow keys are a bit annoying. But you’ll get used to them.

In fact, I’ve typed this entire review on the Pro without any problems whatsoever. And that’s a big thing, as I come from the excellent classic keyboard on my ThinkPad X220 and usually have a hard time adapting to anything else.  Yes, the entire body flexes quite badly, even when gently taping each key, but while slightly bothering, that did not affect my typing performances at all.

The keyboard is also backlit. I couldn’t find a way to manually adjust the back-lightning intensity, but there is a sensor that will turn ON and OFF the illumination according to the ambient light.

The keyboard is great, the trackpad... not so much

The keyboard is great, the trackpad… not so much

The clickpad however does not rise to the high standards set by the keyboard. It’s not bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement, particularly when it comes to registering taps and some gestures, like two-finger scrolling. I’ve tried mingling with the settings, but that didn’t make any difference.

Besides that, I did find the trackpad’s surface a bit rough to touch, while most other producers use those smooth glass covered clickpads these days.

Screen

Those out of the way, let’s turn our attention on the display. There’s a 13.3 inch IPS Full HD touchscreen on this Vaio Pro and there’s little I can say wrong about it.

It responded promptly to all my touches and swipes, while displaying very sharp and vibrant content. Sony bundled their Triluminos technology on this screen, which does lead to popping colors, although a bit over-saturated. The contrast and brightness levels are good and there’s a light sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness based on the amount of light around, which works pretty good.

There’s also this other technology called X-Reality (details), meant to improve lower-definition video quality, but I for one really couldn’t see any differences with it activated or not. Perhaps I had to try with some really poor looking clips or something.

13.3 inch Triluminos touchscreen - awesome!

13.3 inch Triluminos touchscreen – awesome!

Still, there is one thing Sony should have done better here. There’s a rather big gap between the panel and the layer of glass on top, around 1 mm or more I’d say, and that leads to reflections and contrast fading, which is mostly visible on whites and lighter content. And that’s very annoying, especially with the screen that doesn’t lay flat on the back and doesn’t offer full flexibility when it comes to adjusting the vertical viewing angles.

In other words, even when looking at the screen straight-on, the corners and up and bottom parts of the screen will show slight color degradation, and that’s more visible when you can’t have the screen facing properly towards you, because it can only lean-back that much.

Hardware and performances

Alright, but enough talking about this laptop, let’s see what it can actually do.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the Vaio Pro is one of the first ultrabooks to offer Intel’s new Haswell hardware platform. Our unit is the base version of the Pro 13, with an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, Intel HD 4400 graphics, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD.

You will notice there’s a GT2 graphics chip on this machine. Later down the line we’ll see GT3 graphics bundled on the i5 and i7 ULV processors, and those 5000 HD lines will offer slightly better performances than this combo we have here. Besides that, it looks like there are 2x 2GB modules of RAM in dual-channel, based on Sisoftware Sandra (one of the pics below). I can’t confirm this for sure though as I cannot open this review unit and have a peak at the components.

One final thing I should add regards the SSD. This is an NGFF SSD (details), which means that it’s more compact than the regular mSata SSDs seen lately and also uses a different connector. Intel and several other manufacturers are trying to standardize the SSDs inside ultrabooks and that’s a good thing. We’ve seen many types of SSDs on portable laptops in the last years, with different types of connectors and that creates confusion between buyers and also makes these laptops more difficult to service or upgrade. Performance wise, the 128 GB SSD on this Vaio is quite fast, although we’ve seen better. Check out the pics below for details.

Anyway, this entire hardware combo makes the Pro 13 powerful enough for pretty much everything you might throw at it, from basic things, like browsing, chatting or listening to music, to more advanced tasks, like editing photos and videos, watching multimedia content and even running some games.

The excellent sound system has a massive impact on the overall multimedia experience as well, as the Pro does offer punchy and good–quality sound for an ultrabook.

You can see how the Pro handled titles like Starcraft 2, Dirt 3, the latest Need for Speed and some others in the clip below. All those games are running on 720p resolution with details towards LOW, and as expected, the Vaio can handle decently some of the older titles, but has problems dealing with recent complex games. Still, it’s not a gaming ultrabook or anything like that.

If you’re interested in some benchmarks, I’ve run several of them on this Vaio Pro and you can see the results below:

  • 3DMark 11: E996, P600;
  • 3DMark 13:  Ice Storm – 27957, Cloud Gate – 3440, Fire Strike – 465 ;
  • PCMark 07: 4375;
  • Windows Rating: 5.6;
  • CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 14.18 fps, CPU 2.11 pts.

Back to our review, I do have to add that the Vaio Pro comes with Windows 8, which does offer the touch-friendly interface with all the apps inside the Windows Store, plus the classic desktop environment. There are also about 15 or so pieces of Sony software presintalled on this laptop, and some MIGHT be useful (Vaio Care, Xperia Link, Kaspersky antivirus). However, you should uninstall most of them, they just eat up precious space on that small 128 GB SSD and slow down the unit.

Noise, Heat, Connectivity and others

The Vaio Pro manages to run cool and quiet most of the time. When dealing with full HD videos, games and some other demanding apps, the bottom part will get warm, but not uncomfortably hot or anything like that. Air is sucked in from those cuts in the hinge and blown-out through the grill on the left edge, and the entire cooling system is efficient, but can also get quite loud when pushing this machine.

The connectivity options are very good as well, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC. The wireless performances of the Intel N7260 card inside this Vaio is alright as long as you’re close to your router, although occasionally (happened two or three times in a couple of days) the laptop failed to connect to my network and I had to restart it to get it to work. Not sure if that’s a Windows 8 glitch or anything else.

Update: These Wi-Fi signal drops are a known and unfixed issues with most, if not all the Vaio Pro 13s. Just like I mentioned above, the Wi-Fi module disconnects out of the blue and you need to restart the laptop to make it work again. And that happens very often. On top of that, the signal’s strength and speed drop very fast if you get a bit further away from the router (15+ feet with some obstacles in between), as you can see in this long forum thread.

I should also mention the webcam on top of the screen, which is unfortunately very noisy and lacks the details I was expecting from a laptop in this class. It works alright in Skype and Google hangouts if there’s enough light around, but I’ve definitely seen better.

Battery life

But how about the battery life? There’s a 38 Wh battery inside this unit and that’s enough to push the Vaio Pro 13 for about 5 to 7 hours of everyday use, which really proves the efficiency of the new Intel Haswell hardware. If that’s not enough, Sony also offers a slice battery for their Pro, for $149, that can easily push it to 10-12 hours of life or even more.

In practice, I got about 6 hours of life while looping a 1080p mkv file with Windows Media Player HC, on PowerSaving, with the screen at 60%. While typing this review and a couple of other texts, I drained about 45% of the battery in about 4 hours, using it with the screen at 30%, on Power Saving. Of course, if running games or editing videos you’ll get a lot less, around 3 hours or so. But on average, I’m very happy with the results.

Under heavy loud, you won’t see a big gain from previous Ivy Bridge ultrabooks, but under everyday and light use, this Haswell powered machine ran for 30 to 50% longer than similar Ivy machines. Also, the standby-time was great, Windows estimating 10+ days of Stand-by with the battery fully-charged, which makes little sense in ever turning OFF you laptop again.

There’s also one cool trick worth mentioning about the power-brick. As you can see here, it does come with an USB slot, so you can charge your various accessories. But Sony also offers an USB powered Wireless dongle, that perfectly integrates with the brick.

There’s an Ethernet port on this unit, you just have to stick in the cable, press the WPS button and get yourself a secure and easy to use Wi-Fi network. Definitely something I’d wish other manufacturers will offer on their ultrabooks in the future.

USB slot and a compatible Wireless Dongle on the brick

USB slot and a compatible Wireless Dongle on the brick

Prices and availability

Sony sells the Vaio Pro 13 for $1250 and up, but some online stores offer it discounted these days. Our review unit is the base configuration, with an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, Intel HD 4400 graphics, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD and Windows 8.

You can also get an Intel Core i7 config, add more memory and extra storage space, but those will push the Vaio Pro 13 above 2 grand. The more powerful options will also offer Iris graphics (Intel HD 5000/5200 lines) and extra features useful on a business machine, like vPro, Windows 8 Pro and so on.

Wrap-up

All in all, the Vaio Pro 13 is an excellent device. Yes, it feels a bit fragile, but I don’t think the flexible chassis will have negative effects on the long term if you treat it right. Of course, there are things I’d wish Sony would have done better, like the trackpad and the pointy corners, but those shouldn’t be enough to steer you away from this machine: a slim, light, beautiful, fast and long running business ultrabook.

So, should you buy the Vaio Pro 13? Well, if you want a new ultrabook right now, it’s definitely something to consider, although it is more expensive than similar Ivy Bridge machines and even some of the (very few) other Haswell notebooks also available.

If you’re not in a hurry though, I advise you to wait till the end of the summer. This is just one of the first Haswell ultrabooks hitting the stores, and I’m sure we’ll see plenty of other very good choices down the line. Not necessarily better than the Vaio Pro 13, but it’s always good to have more viable options to pick between.

One of the best premium ultrabooks of the moment - Sony Vaio Pro 13 SVP13

One of the best premium ultrabooks of the moment – Sony Vaio Pro 13 SVP13

Anyway, that’s about it. I hope you enjoyed this Sony Vaio Pro 13 review, and if you have any questions or things to add, I’ll be waiting for your comments below. Cheers.

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Andrei Girbea, aka Mike, Editor-in-Chief and a huge fan of mobile computers. Since 2007, I've only owned smaller than 12.5" laptops and I've been testing tens, if not hundreds of mini laptops. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.

53 Comments

  1. Cristian

    June 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Hmm, it flexes way too much for my liking, makes it difficult for someone looking for a haswell ultrabook to prefer it to the MB air.
    The air doesn’t have a touchscreen, though, so this compensates for the Pro.

    Thank you for this review, very interesting!

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      there will be plenty of other options. The Aver S7 could be one, and many others. Just wait for a few weeks

    • Touko

      July 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      The excessive flex is a much bigger problem than given credit for in most places. Sony used a large main circuit board inside, stretching from left edge to right edge, so they could mount the connectors on it.

      This means, that when the notebook flexes, the mainboard is forced to flex with it.

      Ive you’ve ever read anything about modern multilayer circuit boards (commonly using 6 layers for computer mainboards), you know that the one thing that ruins them fast is bending them.

      Why? Because between each layer of plastic are tiny leads with numerous vertical connections crossing one or more of the plastic layers. Bending such a board repeatedly will eventually shear off the vertical connects and buckle the horizontal leads.

      I expect a massive spike of failure rates for the Vaio Pro series in 6 to 12 months, individually depending on how much people actually travel with these.

  2. Kman

    June 13, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Hi thanks for the detailed review. One question though, is the battery user replaceable or would it need to be sent away to be replaced?

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      it’s not. Most ultrabooks come with encased batteries, especially those as small as this one

  3. Gregor

    June 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Very good review – very detailed! Will you be making one for the 11 inch model as well?

    Have you had the chance to attach the sheet battery – I would like to know if the battery can be easily attached or is a bit tricky like with the Acer S7.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      I think I’ll have the Pro 11 in a week or so. I’m currently playing with the Duo 13.

      Also, O haven’t seen the battery in real life yet, but if I will, I’ll update the post with some photos.

  4. TermorChrist

    June 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Very good video review, and the website is well done! I’m thrilled by the good focus on flex aspect of Vaio Pro 13 shown. Also the reflection issue due to the glass cover required by the touchscreen has been highlighted appropriately. Your review was very helpful as Sony store in Silicon Valley didn’t carry this machine, not even a demo piece, even on day of launch here (June 9). I was told they won’t have it until end of the month. And you’d figure Sony wants to compete with Apple in premium laptop category… let me have the machine in my hands guys!

    It’s a shame that Sony isn’t offering a non-touch version in US. It’s there in UK, and Japan. Also, in UK you can right now, for a limited time, get free 4yr warranty. Any love for US customers, Sony?

    I think for all the ultrabooks you should also comment on the warranty offered, both standard base and the possible upgrades. If you could include the warranty services reputation, at least in the US, that’d be great. There’s a lot of difference in the quality of service you get from Apple, Dell and ASUS for the similar price, and warranty plan.

    Also, if you could highlight what parts are upgradeable up to what max config (e.g. RAM upgradeable to max 12 GB) that’d be of an immense value. With ultrabooks getting smaller and more packaged such flexibility could be a big decision factor for some.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      You’re right about warranty, I’ll try to add that on my future updates.

      I’ll also get a bit more specific about hardware and upgrades IF i can. Since most of my reviews units come directly from manufacturers, i’m not allowed to open them. And the software can only tell you that much…

      Anyway, thanks a lot for the suggestions, much appreciated

  5. Tony Petro

    June 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    According to Sony’s own site and several other reviews, the Pro 13 does NOT have a magnesium shell as repeatedly stated here, but is in fact carbon fiber–which would account for the flex, given the nature of the material. Although tolerance for flex is a matter of personal taste, it’s a bit unfair to question the *durability* of the build based on a comparison with inherently rigid magnesium/aluminum.

    (Not a Sony fanboi by any stretch, just looking for accurate info.)

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 16, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Ups, I though i corrected that magnesium error. I did know, thanks for the heads-up.

      As for the other part, I’m entitled to my opinion as long as you are entitled to yours. I know why the laptop is flexible, that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it being so bendy… Or that i like it. Look at the Vaio Duo 13. That’s still made from carbon fiber and it’s a lot more durable.

      • Tony Petro

        June 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm

        I’m not saying you’re not entitled to wish it were less bendy–that was my point about personal preference.

        But “durability” is a question of whether something will fail with use over time, and it’s not the case that because something bends that it will ultimately break (same with airframes). Folks who are used to rigid builds may assume that flex means poor quality or materials that will fail over time, and that’s not a sound conclusion in the case of carbon fiber.

        • Tony Petro

          June 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm

          (And just to be clear, I think the way you put it in the review is totally fair. Really appreciate the review, BTW.)

        • Andrei Girbea

          June 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm

          I agree that carbon fiber devices are usually more flexible than those made from magnesium or aluminum. Still, with the laptop bending that much, I can’t help myself wondering what’s the long term impact on the inner components. Yes, the carbon fiber frame flexes and that’s OK, but won’t that stress the motherboard, battery, etc, all the other things inside?

          Not sure if you’re familiar with the Toshiba Portege Z830. A year or so ago, it was advertised as the lightest 13.3 inch ultrabook. it came with a very flexible lid cover. Toshiba said everything was tested to support pressure, etc etc. But have a look on the forums, there are plenty complaining that the screen has cracked and that is not covered by warranty.

          That’s why I question the long term reliability of the pro. Hopefully, I’m wrong to do it, we’ll see. It’s not really the same story as with the Toshiba here, as the screen frame is in fact sturdy. But still…

  6. Ruoqian

    June 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Hi,Andrei Girbea
    This is a great review!It really helps me a lot.However,I’m still considering between pro and mba.Sony has got much better screen (even with touch), NFC, sexy appearance,super light and so on. Whereas Air comes with even longer battery life, and a faster SSD,a slightly graphics performance(even i have no idea how much that HD5000 is better than HD 4400),and most importantly, $200 cheaper in AUS! Well, for that $200, air would have 256GB instead of 128GB, however SONY Store here is offering a NFC bluetooth headphone which they calm worth $199.

    Well,would you please give me some idea about which one to pick. currently I don’t have an ultrabook and i don’t really want to wait any more.Thank you so much!

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 16, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      There are some things i really like about the MBA: the keyboard, the trackpad, the overall build quality. And now the battery life, on this Haswell versions.

      Sony’s Pro is however lighter than the MBA and has all the other things that you mentioned. If you’re not happy with the battery life, you can get the slice battery as well and together, the Pro is pushed to an advertised battery life of 16 hours (more like 12 in practice).

      However, the Sony seems quite expensive. Hopefully there will be discounts in the future, maybe you can wait on those. Otherwise, if you’re ok with OSX and don’t care much about a touchscreen, the MBA is a great pick. Especially since you get a better config for the same price, as a 128 GB SSD (out of which only about 75 ish are usable for stuff) is too small for a daily driver. Can’t comment on the headphones, but i don’t know if that should matter much in this decision :P

      • Ruoqian

        June 17, 2013 at 6:13 am

        Thank you so much for your reply. So,let’s talk about pro or air itself.What you think of those two laptops when 13′ compare to 11′? I also confused with size too.sign…

        • Andrei Girbea

          June 17, 2013 at 10:58 am

          could you be more specific? I don’t understand what you’re asking here :)

          • Ruoqian

            June 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

            LOL,sorry and never mind about that. Would you please tell me what you think about when we compare the screen between pro 13 and mba 13? How much that sony is better than apple? But would apple’s resolution still acceptable?

            Moreover, I didn’t really try the touchpad on pro, seems not that good. Can you please tell me something more about that?

            Thank you so much!

          • Andrei Girbea

            June 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

            there’s a higher resolution touchscreen on the pro, and a non glare lower resolution one on the air. still, it’s OK.

            the touchpad on the AIR IS for sure better than the one on the pro

      • skyfly007

        August 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

        So great review of the sony Vaio Pro 13. I just feel it in real on the market, all you mentioned aspect I feel same. I am a Chinese guy, forget my chinglish, i still wandering between apple air and this one. I like sony’s screen and the weight, but i don’t like the flexible. it’s feel so unsafe, is this could bend the motherboard , i don’t know. otherwise, apple air is 300 gram heavy than sony, but it feel stronger than pro, so here’s my question for you, these two laptop , which one your prefer to buy?

        • Andrei Girbea

          August 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

          depends. the MBA is great if you want something cheaper with a great keyboard and long battery life, the sony offers a touchscreen, lighter body and windows 8 for $150 extra. your call

          • fly007

            August 27, 2013 at 8:16 am

            Thanks a lot! I decide to buy a mac air, just as your advice that i don’t need touch screen, i don’t like win8.

  7. J

    June 19, 2013 at 3:48 am

    Hi!

    So good reading your review, I’m in the market for buying a windows based ultraportable that is based on the new haswell architecture. I had a few questions (after reading your review)

    1. Does the machine get excessively hot? If so, at what point in time? Normal use or heavy gaming use?
    2. How bad is the trackpad (if you rate MBA at 10/10) how would you rank this one? Is two finger scrolling really very bad in the trackpad? Could a future driver/software update fix that?

    Thanks!

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

      1. No, it doesn’t. Even when playing games, it doesn’t. But can get a bit louder when pushed
      2. I’d say it’s a… 6. It’s not that bad, but there’s definitely room for improvements

      • J

        June 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

        Thanks for the quick comment! I’m wondering whether it makes sense to buy a laptop knowing that the keyboard is lackluster. I like how light it is, but the fan noise with the poor keyboard makes me wonder if I should bite the bullet and just get a MBA and run windows (bootcamp) all the time.

        What would your thoughts be on that!

        Thanks :)

        • Andrei Girbea

          June 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm

          It really depends on how much value you put on the keyboard. for me, that’s extremely important, that’s why I probably focus a lot on that in my reviews

          As for the noise, the Duo 13 is not noisier than most other ultrabooks and like I said in the article, most of time the fans are actually off. so that shouldn’t be an issue.

          Now, before going for the MBA (which is definitely a very good machine, don’t get me wrong) you might want to wait for Lenovo’s and maybe Asus’s take on Haswell ultrabooks. Maybe those will suit your needs better…

  8. Amitai

    June 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Can I edit 1080p video and photos with this ultrabook without lags and such?

  9. Magnus

    June 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Hi

    Many thx for snappy review(s). However, I’m a bit puzzled as to how many different graphics performance results on the Vaio Pro there are out there :S

    You say, for instance, 3DMark 11 entry score is E996. But on computershopper.com/laptops/reviews/sony-vaio-pro-11/%28page%29/3#review-body the entry score is as high as E1431.

    Moreover (sorry for less irrelevance regarding your review..) Notebookcheck has posted a 3DMark 11 P600 (based on Laptopmag’s review), which correlates with your P600. BUT that will then place the Vaio Pro beneath “older” ultrabooks (with discrete HD 4000 graphics) such as Acer Aspire S7 and Kirabook, which in fact is contradicted by others: computershopper.com, pcmag.com…

    I have ordered the Pro Vaio 13, so I am in line for a delivery, but all these contradictions make me a bit uneasy as regards my anticipations on the Pro’s grahpics performance !

    BR

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

      I posted the results I got on this particular unit, which was an engineering sample. There’s a slight chance final retail units will get better results, but not THAT much better. Even so, benchmarks don’t tell the whole story and I did get way better in-game results on the Vaio Duo 13 I tested with the exact same configuration.

  10. Steven

    July 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Hi Andrei:

    Thank you for the review.

    Just wanted your opinion.

    I am tempted to buy this ultrabook especially there is a australian website flingshot is offering vaio pro 13 for Au$1198 valid until friday. However I would like to know how long will this SSD last. Is this ssd Single layered or multilayered? Also do you know if any SSD in any ultrabook lasted more than 5 years? Is the SSD on pro upgradable manually?

    Secondly my main consideration is price, an ultrabook with touch screen and haswell, this ultrabook seems to be cheapest compare to Toshiba Kira, lenovo carbon x1 touch. If I wait until December, do you think Sony will produce a better pro with similar price or will other competitor like asus, lenovo and Toshiba comes up with a ultrabook haswell touch laptop with a price close to Vaio pro?

  11. Vish Periyasamy

    July 29, 2013 at 8:29 am

    You have the best reviews on all ultrabooks I have searched through for the last month so I thought I might ask you this: Several (and by several I mean a very large quantity) of customer reviews I have read have complained about a severe wifi problem that has become known. I realize you don’t spend too much time with each computer you review but I was wondering if you ever noticed a wifi problem that disconnects you repeatedly. I was thoroughly convinced on buying this machine until I discovered this problem as it would be a major deal breaker for me to deal with such an inconvenience.

  12. Thomas Waldmann

    August 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    You mentioned that the i7 based version has Iris/HD5xxx graphics.

    I just wanted to add that for the currently offered configurations (in the US and in Germany), that is NOT the case. They have a i7-4500U which has a HD4400 graphics unit.

    http://ark.intel.com/products/75460/Intel-Core-i7-4500U-Processor-4M-Cache-up-to-3_00-GHz

  13. Jerry

    August 19, 2013 at 3:54 am

    Hey Andrei, which laptop would you choose between the sony vaio pro, Acer aspire s7 and the zenbook prime ux31a? Thanks for any feedback and awesome review!!!

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 19, 2013 at 7:38 am

      I care a lot about battery life, so I’d probably get either the Sony or the Acer. The Sony is cheaper, but the Acer is a lot more solid and less bendy.

      As for the prime, not sure which version you’re talking about, but it’s still a good pick if you want to save some money or just want a laptop with a non-glare screen

  14. Chan

    September 21, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Can you pls advise which is better; vaio pro13 i7 256ssd or duo 13 i5 128ssd? I want to get one of them but cannot decide which one to get.

  15. Hector Lopez

    November 3, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Congratulations you have one of the best ultrabook review websites of the internet. I have Vish Periyasamy same question: Several (and by several I mean a very large quantity) of customer reviews I have read have complained about a severe wifi problem that has become known. I realize you don’t spend too much time with each computer you review but I was wondering if you ever noticed a wifi problem that disconnects you repeatedly. I was thoroughly convinced on buying this machine until I discovered this problem as it would be a major deal breaker for me to deal with such an inconvenience. Please we would like to know your experience about this issue. Thanks in advance, Regards.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Yes, the Wi-Fi problems are real. During my time with the Pro 13, I have encountered some Wi-Fi issues as well, as mentioned in the article.

      • George

        November 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm

        Hi! first of all, just found this website and im loving it! congrats for the great reviews.

        Im looking for a business oriented ultrabook for a new job (company will pay for it) and I’ve been offered both the Sony Vaio Pro and the Asus Zenbook Infinity. I was going for the Sony for its 1,06kg, the display and the price (around 350€ cheaper), but started reading about the WiFi problems.

        I work as an IT consultant and I was already finding hard the absence of straight ethernet port. The WiFi dongle doesn’t convince me at all and I’m not sure about the typical USB-to-RJ45 dongles working with wireshark or tcpdump utilities. On top of that, WiFi seems to be a real problem with this laptop so im really worried about picking the Sony, and telling my company the laptop I chose was a total fail and I need them to pay for another one…

        My first choice was the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, but I havent been able to find it yet in Spain, and I believe it to be the most expensive of the 3.

        Any recommendations if I should go for the Sony and ignore the wifi related problems commented, go for the Zenbook (still haven’t found any negative stuff about them) or try to push harder and make them buy me the Samsung in case I can find a retailer?

        Thank you!

        • Andrei Girbea

          November 14, 2013 at 9:53 pm

          I wouldn’t go for the Sony, personally. Over flexible and wi-fi problems.

          The UX301 is a good laptop, as you might have seen from the review. Haven’t heard bad things about it eider. The ATIV is good as well, but lacks the higher power processors of the UX301, has a shallower keyboard and less ports. It’s a matter of personal experience between the two.

          As a business laptop, you should consider the Lenovo Thinkpad X240 or the THinkpad Yoga as well. Powerful and strong, with awesome keyboards and long battery life

          • alex j

            December 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm

            Hy Andrei,

            My budget here in Romania is about 5000 lei (1200-1300 euro). I love the Vaio Pro 13. In this budget is there any other quality ultra portable, non-glare, minimum HD+, non-touch? I am in offices a lot, and I want to carry all over with my agenda. My tablet is not enough. Thank you

          • Andrei Girbea

            December 19, 2013 at 9:40 am

            Non-glare is an issue with most modern ultrabooks, since Intel imposes these laptops to have touchscreen these days.

            Personally, I’d look at the Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1, if you’re fine with Ivy Bridge and about 4-5 hours of everyday use. Might be a bit outside the budget though. The Vaio Pro 13 is a decent options, however, there’s one thing to be aware of: potential wireless issues. If you’ll go through user reviews online, you’ll see that many are complaining about wi-fi dropping out of the blue. It happened to me too on the test model. If you’re willing to take a chance, then the Pro 13 should do fine. But it may as well turn out to be a big pain in the… :)

        • Thomas Waldmann

          November 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

          I got a SVP13 as a successor for my 4.5y old Thinkpad X300.
          I waited for such a machine for years (everything else before just didn’t meet my requirements) and I was surprised Sony finally made it.

          I have removed Windows 8 from it, put Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on it + the latest linux kernel and I don’t have wireless issues. 2 rooms / 2 walls away from wifi router and it works (22MBit/s throughput from internet).

          What I like:
          * battery life – 10 hours in practice with linux (5h for each battery, have the int. + ext. battery) (*)
          * lightweight machine (*)
          * full hd, non-glare, non-touch ips panel, good colours (*)
          * 8gb ram (some other ultrabooks are limited to 4) (*)
          * good price (*)
          * with low load, fan noise is low/ok
          * linux compatibility (with latest kernel)
          * it first discharges the ext. battery, putting most cycles on that one
          * power supply has usb charging port (that is also/alternatively used for that little dockable wifi/lan router I also have)
          * 4y warranty for not too much (*)
          * Intel VT (this should be a normal feature with CPUs supporting it, but Sony failed here badly in the past with BIOSes having that locked away)

          (*) features that some other ultrabooks or similar machines just don’t have.

          What I dislike:
          * sharp edges
          * i miss the trackpoint that Thinkpads usually have, don’t like touchpads
          * the flexing is usually not an issue, but if you don’t have the machine standing on a flat surface and you put quite some load onto left and right handrest, it may flex enough so that a touchpad click is triggered.
          * the win 8 usb recovery media it built for me didn’t work starting from an empty SSD. as I don’t like win8 anway, no big loss for me.
          * black case – i would have preferred white or some other rather light colour. Black looks “cool”, but if you dare to go outside in the summer, black just attracts too much heat.
          * Sony offers BIOS updates as *.EXE only.

          Hope that helps.

          • Paul

            December 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm

            Thanks! Your comments about ubuntu on the vaio pro were very helpful. Particularly pleased to see the slice battery is used properly.

  16. Hank

    December 30, 2013 at 1:43 am

    Hi,

    Seeing the video I have a question.
    By default there is no wireless built-in into the laptop?
    So if the charger is not connected to the laptop then there is no WIFI nor Ethernet?

    Hank

    • Thomas Waldmann

      January 9, 2014 at 12:07 am

      There is WiFi built-in, but there is no wired ethernet (the plug would be rather big and there is not much space).

      Sony sells a small WiFi router that can be powered from the USB outlet at the charger (or any other USB power), so it works like this:

      Laptop Router

      I have that router, it’s quite nice. Also the HDMI/VGA adapter works good.

  17. Hank

    January 28, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Hi

    I bought this laptop and I’d like to share some experiences.
    First of all the world wide warranty is just very limited. So Sony will deal with warranty issues, however, repair time can be up to 90 days (if they do not have part for that specific region).

    Secondly. Here or other forum somebody mentioned possible motherbard problem in future due to the flexibility (many layer circuit).
    In case of the i7 version I did not experienced the same flexibility. I think Sony tried to improve some.
    However I discovered a serious and very annoying problem.
    When the machine is not on a hard surface, but on my legs above my knees and I try to type, then usually both of my wrist is on the laptop. (I use linux.) In this case the mouse lose the focus from the current window. Another example. The Midnight commander (like the norton commander or windows commander) two panels file utility) change focus of the panel from left to right (always this direction and this is similar when you press tab button, however tab is supposed to change between panels).
    If I decrease the pressure on the surface of the laptop of any of my wrist then problem disappear.

    Also integrating the mouse button into the touch part of the touchpad is a bad idea. I need to learn again how to use the mouse, otherwise the dual touch can cause surprises.

    It is very annoying you can not move the display back too much. You need to decrease you chair’s height or increase the laptop height or use external devices if you do not want some ergonomic issue in your neck (as the ideal position would be front of you without moving up or down your head too much)

    Fedora is already supporting this laptop from Fedora 20 (currently the most recent) version. Probably earlier can start, but installation disk started to load something (kernel, etc.) then blank screen and sometimes lights were changing of the keyboard. For linux you need to switch off the secure boot (so you will not notify if a new software added itself to the boot order or created a new EFI partition)
    Also you need to add libata.force=noncq to the line starting with linux or linuxefi (depending on your boot)

    For me the sharp edges were not that bad as I expected.

    I hope these will help before you buy this laptop.

    Good luck!

  18. Hank

    January 29, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I mean on “Fedora 20 supports” it is handling at least the high resolution screen, sound, touch screen, touch pad with dual touch, wifi, USB.
    I have not tested the NFC or Bluetooth yet.
    Also the above suggested kernel parameter need for SSDs only (so theoretically to all vaio pro 13).
    One more strange thing: the mouse click button part of the touch pad. It is divided into two parts. Left half is the left button, right half is the right one. For me the left side of the left part does not work. So need to go towards the right button to be able to click with the left (almost at the middle while I should not forget this is a touch pad so if I move my finger to the middle the mouse will move as well… This is very annoying and I think this is warranty problem or a serious design problem.

  19. Steve Lu

    June 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks for the great review! I’m thinking about buying it, but I just have one question. That wifi dongle, does it come with the ultrabook or is it being sold separately?

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      It comes with it in most countries, but not everywhere, from what I’ve seen

      • Steve Lu

        June 18, 2014 at 6:06 pm

        I guess. I’ve watched a couple of unboxing videos on YouTube, and I couldn’t see it in some packages. I guess I need to ask the local Sony shop here to find out if it’s available here :)
        Thank you!

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