Hands-on: Sony VAIO Pro 11/13

Hands-on: Sony VAIO Pro 11/13

 The VAIO Pro will come in both 11-inch and 13-inch form factors.

Say what you want about Apple's Macbook Air, but the seminal thin-and-light (and unofficial Ultrabook) is still *the* laptop that all wannabe-thin-and-light laptops are measured up against. And in the case of the VAIO Pro laptops, nothing has ever been more obvious (except maybe the new HP Envy laptops that clearly look like Apple Macbook Pro clones to everyone but the people marketing them).

The VAIO Pro is considered by some to be the long-awaited heir to the lauded VAIO Z line. Coming in both black and silver, the VAIO Pro will also come in both 11-inch and 13-inch variants. 

Even more impressive is that both sizes will feature options for both Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. Given that the 11-inch VAIO Pro weighs no more than a decently sized magazine in the hand (at just 870g),  squeezing a fast chip into a body so thin is an impressive feat of engineering. The 13-inch VAIO Pro weighs a smudge over 1Kg. Storage is taken care of by solid state drives, though the 13-inch VAIO Pro will feature a PCIe-based SSD, for even faster disk performance. Of course, final specifications for Singapore have yet to be finalized.

The body of the VAIO Pro is made with carbon fiber,which helps keeps things light while ensuring structural strength.

The keyboard on the VAIO Pro is backlit, though we did notice that the backlighting on the white variant seemed a little too overpowering, making it hard to properly see the markings on the individual keys. The keyboard backlighting on the black devices was fine though.

Like all of Sony's VAIO laptops launched, the VAIO Pro comes with a touchscreen display, and Full HD resolution too, regardless of whether it's the 11-inch or 13-inch model.

In an interview with Sony executives, the question was raised of why Sony was content to stick to Full HD resolution displays, instead of going towards retina-class display technology like the Toshiba Kirabook. Shigeki Mori, General Manager for Sony's Planning of VAIO & Mobile Business Group says that the reason was more of an issue with how Windows 8 scales on displays with higher resolutions beyond Full HD. While Retina-class displays are nice to look at, the lack of proper support in a great many apps and programs for resolutions higher that Full HD leads to a user experience compromise, and one that Sony isn't comfortable with taking.

Sony also showcased a battery slice add-on, compatible with both the 11-inch and 13-inch VAIO Pro. As a guide, the VAIO Pro 11 has a battery capacity of about 32 Wh (edit: An earlier version of this sttement mentioned 36 Wh; the correct number is 32 Wh. Apologies!). In comparison, the VAIO Pro 13 has a battery capacity of about 37Wh. The battery slice sports a capacity of 36Wh, and as such, should theoretically lead to double the battery life when in use.

The VAIO Pro is expected to be made available in Singapore towards the end of June.

Like all laptops that mean srs bzns, the VAIO Pro will also come only in either black or silver (we're partial towards the latter, actually).

On the right side: HDMI output, dual USB3.0 port, audio output jack and memory card slot.

The speakers are cleverly hidden along the edge where the display panel hinges are, angled in such a way that the emitted sound waves reflect off the display panel and towards the user.

Here's a quick look at the keyboard layout differences between the VAIO Pro 11, and the VAIO Pro 13. And yes, both have backlit keyboards.

 Sony says that the VAIO Pro is designed in such a way that the keyboard surface is slanted downwards, so much so that it almost feels like there's not a big difference in terns of palm feel and positioning between where the laptop ends and where the table begins. Some Sony executives dubbed this the "infinite palmrest".

A quick thickness comparison between the tapered edge of the VAIO Pro, versus the profile of an iPhone 4S.

Sony will also offer an optional battery slice, to enable approximately "double the battery life" of either the VAIO Pro 11, or the VAIO Pro 13. Unfortunately for those planning to get the silver-colored VAIO Pro, the battery slice will apparently come only in black.