Sony VAIO Pro 13
Sony has a history of building premium ultraportable
notebooks – long before Ultrabooks first arrived on the scene. The Vaio Pro 13
is the latest addition to that family, and boasts a Toray carbon fiber chassis,
giving it both durability and an incredibly lightweight build. In fact, it's by
far the lightest Ultrabook in our shootout at just 1.06kg.
The Vaio Pro 13 sports a sleek, executive-looking aesthetic
with a black painted carbon fiber lid and base. On the inside, a strip of
black, brushed aluminum covers the wrist rest and offers a smooth, if somewhat
cold surface to rest your hands.
Sony VAIO Pro 13
Unfortunately, the keyboard well is plastic and, as a
result, there's a fair bit of flex evident. The keyboard itself is also quite
shallow, and the keys are a bit wobbly. And while the clickpad is large, with a
firm, satisfying click, it's made with plastic rather than glass (like on many
other premium Ultrabooks), which isn't as smooth, and doesn't look or feel as
Like the Acer Aspire S7, the Vaio Pro 13 is fitted with a
Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution touchscreen display. Viewed by itself, the
display is fine, with plenty of screen brightness, good viewing angles and
sufficient clarity. However, if you put the Vaio Pro 13 next to the higher
resolution displays of HP's Spectre 13, ASUS' Zenbook UX301 or Lenovo's Yoga 2
Pro and scrutinize each one, it starts looking a bit shabby in comparison.
Still, this should be good enough for most users.
The large clickpad isn’t made of
glass like on other premium Ultrabooks
As expected for a Sony Vaio notebook, the Vaio 13 Pro is
quite pricey, with the i7 model retailing for $2,499 and the i5 (with 128GB
SSD) variant available for $1,999. Surprisingly, both models only come with 4GB
Toshiba PORTEGE Z30
The Portege Z30 is Toshiba's follow-up to 2012's
ultraportable Portege Z930 Ultrabook. While the Z930 measured just 15.9mm and
weighed 1.12kg, the Z30 is slightly thicker at 17.9mm and heavier at 1.2kg.
The tradeoff for the extra weight comes in the form of a
larger battery and a few extra security features. In fact, the Z30 is the only
Ultrabook in this lineup armed with a TPM chip, fingerprint reader and
SmartCard technology- all of which are must-have features for any enterprise
Matching its enterprise features, the Z30 sports a serious
business-like aesthetic, in a drab, metallic gray that is unlikely to turn many
heads. Build-quality on the Z30 is fairly decent, thanks to a magnesium alloy
body that keeps the machine light and portable, and also adds enough durability
to protect it from light bumps and scuffs. Unfortunately, while magnesium is
lighter than aluminum, it doesn't look as nice, and it's also not as stiff,
resulting in a fair bit of flex evident in both the lid and keyboard well.
Toshiba PORTEGE Z30
The Z30 is the only Ultrabook in our shootout sporting both
a full-size clickpad and a trackpoint nub with physical left and right click
buttons. The nub has a gritty feel, very similar to the ones found on Lenovo's
Thinkpad line of enterprise notebooks. As for the Z30's keyboard, it's a bit
shallow, but the keys themselves are quite firm.
The biggest drawback to the Z30 is its 1366 x 768 resolution
display. While displays of this caliber were acceptable two years ago, many
manufacturers are now opting for Full HD and higher displays, and it's a shame
that Toshiba hasn't chosen to do the same. Even worse, it's also the only
notebook in our shootout without a touchscreen display, a feature that is
almost mandatory for any long-term Windows 8.1 usage.
At $1,999, the Z30 is fairly affordable, but its low
resolution, non-touchscreen display hurts its value rating.