Sony is well known for its premium product ranges and the TT series of Vaio notebooks, unveiled in October, is certainly an indication that it puts quality over price.
asures just 200mm x 279mm and is 23.5mm deep at its thinnest point. Being made from carbon fibre means the whole device weighs only 1.32kg. The lid’s 4mm thickness means the whole screen can bend and flex rather worryingly, but the carbon fibre feels completely rugged so, although we wouldn’t want to stress test it too much by flinging it around by the lid, normal usage shouldn’t cause any problems.
Inside the compact casing is an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.2GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a Mobile Intel Series 4 graphics card, a 160GB Sata hard drive and a DVD rewriter optical drive. The inclusion of an optical drive, combined with the use of a full Core 2 Duo processor and a hefty amount of memory, is what really sets the TT apart from any similarly sized competitors.
Given the rest of the high specifications we were a little disappointed to see a base level Intel graphics chip that shares system memory but, given the space and heat issues the engineers will have been dealing with, and the types of applications the target audience will be using, we can understand why Sony chose that route.
There is the usual array of USB ports, a LAN port, 0.3-megapixel webcam, memory card readers and VGA output. There is also an ExpressCard slot and HDMI output. Along the front of the TT is a discreet collection of buttons for volume and mute, optical drive eject, Wi-Fi on/off and a user definable short-cut key.
As well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the TT includes a built-in 3G modem to make sure users can connect at any time if they desperately need to check a vital email or update their Twitter feed. Sony is including a T-Mobile SIM card with 30 days’ free internet access, but the modem is unlocked, allowing owners to use whichever operator they prefer.
The 11.1in screen is impressive to behold, and Sony has used its X-Black technology to make sure nothing hinders the bright vibrant colours or sharpness of the display. Although the screen tops at a resolution of 1,366 x 768, there is an HDMI port which can provide full 1,080 HD output.
Although the keyboard is slightly smaller than a standard sized keyboard, the layout and the isolated keys make typing, even at speed and for extended durations, no problem at all.
For security, there is a fingerprint reader and the Trusted Platform Module hardware which encrypts data on the drive. The touchpad is a decent size and suitably responsive, and the mouse buttons are long with a solid click behind them. There is a fingerprint reader nestled between the two mouse buttons, which we found ourselves occasionally trying to click on while navigating around, but we quickly got used to it being there.
The TT series runs on Windows Vista, the bottom end of the collection coming with Vista Home Premium and the rest saddled with Business Edition. While we recognise that Sony essentially had no choice in the matter on this one, we hope that the company will switch to Windows 7 as soon as it becomes commercially available.