Sony’s TZ range of ultraportable laptops has long been a favourite in PC Authority’s offices, but its reign on our A List was finally brought to an end by Lenovo’s stunning ThinkPad X300. Now, however, we’ve laid our hands on Sony’s latest update to the TZ range, the all-new TT.

Scan through the TT’s vital statistics, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that not a great deal has changed. For one, the svelte 279 x 200 x 31mm dimensions mean that it’s as petite as ever. It’s gained a little weight, but still only tips the scales at 1.32kg. Pop the charger in with it and it weighs a mere 1.68kg.

It’s altogether better looking, too. Our model was clad in matte black, with chrome highlights stretching along the edges, around the lid’s hinges and ending up on the trackpad’s buttons. The subtle addition of curves around the lid’s edges and around the chassis’ corners make it look smaller and less boxy than its predecessors. And Sony also provides the TT in eye-catching “Fatal Red” or an extravagant “Gold Fever” finish.

Whatever colour you choose, build quality has taken a turn for the better. The TZ may have been enviably light and portable, but it did feel a touch creaky and insubstantial. Even though Sony could argue that flexibility makes
laptops more resistant to bashes, user perception is king, so there was room for improvement.

And improve it has. Sony has gone back to the drawing board and, thanks to a carbon-fibre skeleton, the TT feels noticeably stiffer and more resilient than the models it replaces.

The base of the chassis is outstandingly stout: we really had to put in some effort to get it to flex. And, while the impossibly thin display is still rather flexible, it marks a noticeable improvement on the TZ. Considering that the VGN-TT15GN/B is lighter than its predecessors, this is highly impressive.

Then there’s that 11.1in display, along with its native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Its LED backlighting imparts tremendous brightness, and image quality is absolutely top-notch. The TT’s petite chassis doesn’t leave enough room for a full-sized keyboard but, although the keys are quite small, the wide spaces between each key and pleasingly positive action make for comfortable typing.

But, for all the improvements, the price has risen dramatically, too. Sony’s previous mid-range TZs were available for around $2500 but our review model came in at just under $2900 and there seems little to warrant such an increase.

The specification doesn’t mark a significant improvement. An Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 processor has been chosen for its modest power requirements, and with an upgraded 2GB of memory included in our demo unit, it managed a reasonable 0.68 in our benchmarks. That puts it level with Lenovo’s ThinkPad X300.

Battery life isn’t quite up to that of the TZ-Series, but 6hrs 15mins of light usage and a huge 3hrs 17mins of heavy usage is still a mighty achievement.
The features are comprehensive: Bluetooth and draft-n head up the wireless networking capabilities and security is catered for by a fingerprint reader and a TPM 1.2 module.

Storage isn’t generous, though. There’s a 120GB mechanical drive spinning at 5400rpm, and an integrated DVD writer, but we’d expect more for the price.
But the VGN-TT15GN/B remains excessively pricey.

It costs more than Sony’s own Z-Series laptops, which are only 200g heavier, boast improved ergonomics and still manage to trump the TT with dual graphics chipsets, vastly improved performance and fine battery life. The undeniable allure of the TT’s tinier, curvy figure may tempt some, but the excellence of Sony’s own stablemate puts it in the shade.

click to view full size image
Benchmarks (click on image to enlarge)
3 6
It’s gorgeous, but it can’t match Sony’s own Z-Series for sheer ultraportable excellence.
Features & Design
Value for money
• Sony:
• Price: 2868 • CPU model/brand: Intel Core 2 duo • CPU speed: 1.2Ghz • Memory capacity: 2GB • Hard drive capacity: 120GB • Graphics type: Intel GMA X4500MHD • Screen size: 11.1" • Screen resolution: 1366 x 768 LCD • Weight: 1.32kg • Dimensions WDH: 279 x 200 x 31mm • Ethernet: Yes • Wi-Fi: Yes • Bluetooth ports: Yes • USB ports: Yes • Operating system: Windows Vista Business • Manufacturer: Sony • Supplier: Sony • Warranty: 1yr C&R
This review appeared in the February, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Copyright © Alphr, Dennis Publishing

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