Sony – VAIO VGN-TT11WN/B review

compact, slinky ultraportable from Sony
Photo of Sony – VAIO VGN-TT11WN/B
£1,949

Sony is well known for making highly desirable ultraportable notebooks, with the TZ11 range in particular being held in the number one spot by many people. Now Sony has brought out an updated model range, the TT, an ultraportable which is so compact that at first glance looks like a netbook.

However, one look at the price tag and you’ll know its no netbook, as the price is hefty even for an ultraportable. Our review sample was a top-of-the-range VGN-TT11WN/B model.

The first thing that strikes you about the TT – apart from its size (279 x 200 x 31mm) and weight (1.68kg including the power adaptor) – is just how well the thing is put together and how the carbon fibre casing makes it tougher than it appears at first glance. There is still a bit of flex in the screen, but that isn’t surprising considering just how thin it is.

Our review sample was finished in matt black or, as Sony dramatically describes it, ‘Intense Noir’. Other choices are ‘Gold Fever’ and ‘Ultimate Carbon’ (or gold and dark grey to you and me). The black finish is relieved by chrome highlights around the edge of the chassis, screen hinges and both mouse buttons.

Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 ultra low voltage processor running at just 1.2GHz and backed by Intel’s GS45 chipset and 4GB of 800MHz DDR3 memory, the TT isn’t going to win any performance awards, as shown by its PCMark Vantage overall score of just 1,984, but it will meet all your office document creation needs without any problems.

Powering the graphics is Intel’s integrated GMA X4500M HD solution which outputs to a really good screen. The 16:9 aspect ratio, 11.1-inch screen has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and Sony’s X-Black high contrast coating, together with the LED backlighting, gives superb colour reproduction and contrast despite it not having a glossy finish. But Sony has been miserly when it comes to the webcam as it is only a 0.3-megapixel unit, not the usual 1.3-megapixel ones normally used in notebooks.

Like other Sony ultraportables before it, the TT uses an isolated key keyboard. This means that the keys have a shallow feel which takes a little getting used to, as they don’t have that reassuring, positive click when typing, but that aside the keyboard layout is first rate, with the palm rests slightly raised to allow for more comfortable typing.

In front of the keyboard is a good, responsive touch pad (with vertical and horizontal scrolling) and two mouse buttons. In between the mouse buttons is the usual fingerprint reader which, together with the TPM 1.2 module on the motherboard, gives your data an added level of protection.

Sitting under a flimsy flap on the left-hand side of the chassis are a port for Gigabit Ethernet and an HDMI output. Joining them on this side of the chassis are two USB ports – disappointingly the only two you get – plus a 34mm Express card slot, a 4-pin Firewire port and two audio ports.

Even though the chassis is super slim, Sony has managed to install an optical drive (an 8x DVD+/-RW) into the right-hand side of the chassis, along with a VGA out port. The front of the chassis holds an SD card reader, a MagicGate Pro slot for Sony’s own flash cards, a on/off switch for the WiFi (useful to help save battery power), three buttons (volume, mute and a programmable short-cut one) and, very usefully, an eject button for the optical drive; once you’ve tried to find and operate the eject button on the optical drive itself, you will be on your knees thanking Sony for adding this one.

The TT11′s connectivity is pretty comprehensive: in addition to the previously mentioned Gigabit Ethernet there is 802.11a/b/g/Draft-n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR and a 3G modem which happily isn’t tied to any particular network.

Battery life is quite as good as the previous TZ models, the six-cell, 5,400mAh battery giving six, six and a half, and two and a half hours of battery life in MobileMark 07 Productivity, Reader and DVD suites respectively.

Apart from the pre-installed Windows Vista Business SP1 OS you get the usual Sony software bundle: WinDVD 8.0 for VAIO, Google Picasa, Easy Media Creator 10, Adobe Reader 8.1, Adobe Standard 8, Microsoft Office Ready 2007 (60 days Try & Buy), McAfee Internet Security Suite (with 60 days free virus updates), VAIO Recovery Utility HDD recovery and, last but not least, Protector Suite QL 5.

Company: Sony

Contact: 08705 111999


Verdict
A stylish ultraportable with superb build quality and a good feature set, but for the hefty price we would expect to see an even better set of features, i.e. more USB ports, a better webcam and more powerful graphics.