Sony VAIO Pro 13 review

Sony sticks with a clamshell format for its latest touchscreen Ultrabook to deliver something special

Sony Vaio Pro 13
A clamshell laptop with a difference

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Intel Core i5 4200U 1.6GHz
4GB RAM memory
Intel HD 5000 graphics chipset
128GB SSD storage
1,920x1,080 touchscreen panel
1.06kg weight

The Sony VAIO Pro 13 boasts one of Intel's snazzy new fourth-generation Haswell processors, which means there's plenty of power on hand.

The Intel Core i5 2000U processor is a low-power chip, clocked at 1.6GHz during normal use. The low power rating means it's easier on your battery life and the result is that performance isn't a patch on the chips you'll find in chunky desktop replacement laptops.

However, that doesn't mean power has been castrated altogether. Being an Intel Core chip, it can burst up to 2.3GHz when performing high load tasks, such as movie watching or image editing. It's like having an automatic nitrous oxide button on your PC, and it saves the blushes of what would otherwise be a pretty pedestrian processor.

View from the rear

Solid-state storage is the order of the day

Inside you'll find the standard 4GB of RAM, which is commonplace on all ultra-portables, and is plenty enough to keep Windows feeling spritely. While many budget laptops up the RAM to around 6GB or 8GB, there's little need to push beyond the standard 4GB.

You get a 128GB SSD hard drive as standard, which not only doubles the amount of hard drive space available on most tablets, but is also of the super-fast solid-state variety, too. This keeps loading times down and the system responsive.

Stood up on the lid

The thinness of this laptop impresses

The screen is a gorgeous full HD 1,920x1,080 panel, which is fully touch enabled. Laptops with touchscreens tend to be top heavy with lacklustre visuals, but the VAIO 13 Pro dispels any myths about touch capability and portability. The performance of the panel is superb, and on full brightness the screen is eye-searingly bright.

The benefits are tangible no matter what task you're using the VAIO pro 13 for, and text looks crisp, while movies and pictures look stunning. The performance is all the more impressive when you consider the diminutive weight.

Of course, there's a snowball in hell's chance of discrete graphics being included in an Ultrabook, let alone of this size, so performance is left to the Intel chip. That means hard-core gaming is out of reach of this portable machine. It's certainly aimed at workers over anything else.

Sony Vaio logo

Integrated graphics keeps weight and size down

Many Windows 8 hybrids have fallen down due to cramped and uncomfortable keyboards, but this is where the VAIO Pro 13 really rams home its advantage. The keyboard is as good as any laptop we've used, with light and responsive keys that are well spaced and comfortable. It's immediately easy to type quickly and accurately, and it's suitable for nearly any task, from quick emails to long dissertations.

The trackpad is also excellent, and boasts a range of responsive gestures from pinching and zooming to scrolling. Thankfully, it never succumbs to the accidental mis-registering that has plagued so many other trackpads we've tested.

In terms of connectivity, the Pro 13 doesn't break any records, yet still has everything you need. There are two USB 3.0 ports which offer excellent data speeds, a full-sized HDMI port and an SD card slot.

With an impressive spec sheet and an even more enviable build, things are looking good for the Sony VAIO Pro 13, but how does it perform under testing? Read on to find out.