Sony Adds To Ultrabook Buzz With New 'Vaio T' Series

Sony has officially joined the Ultrabook party with the launch of its new Vaio T series of ultrathin notebooks.

As part of its larger Sony Vaio Expo Tour, the consumer electronics giant unveiled Monday its new 13.3-inch Vaio T13 and 11.6-inch Vaio T11 Ultrabook, running on Intel’s third-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The 13.3-inch model measures 0.7 inches thick and weighs about 3.5 pounds.

The smaller Vaio T11, which today is only available in Europe, touts the same thickness but weighs in at a slightly lighter 3.1 pounds.

While the T Series' super-sleek form factor poises it to be more portable and travel-friendly than its Vaio counterparts, Sony said it’s not technically the first of its PC lineups to meet the industry-standard list of Ultrabook specifications.

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"Thin and light is nothing new to Sony -- we built the T Series Ultrabook from many of the same features as our amazingly thin and powerful ultra-premium VAIO Z Series, which has long exceeded Ultrabook specifications," said Mike Abary, senior vice president of Networked Technology and Services Division of Sony Electronics.

The company’s 13-inch Vaio Z laptop, in fact, weighs slightly less than the new Vaio T13, even though it doesn’t bear the official Ultrabook name. The T13, however, delivers on a number of other Ultrabook-specific characteristics apart from its dimensions, including extended battery life, fast boot-up times and instant-on capabilities.

Specifically, Sony said the Vaio T13, which has 4 GB of RAM, can reach up to seven and a half hours of battery life with a traditional hard drive and up to nine hours with a solid state drive. Users can put the device into a "deep sleep mode" that allows it to be used for up to 90 days within burning out a charge.

Intel Smart Response technology and Sony’s homegrown "Rapid Wake + Eco" functionality, which automatically saves data when the PC is put to sleep and then enables it to wake up in two seconds or less, are also included with the new T Series of Ultrabooks.

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Originally coined by chip maker Intel last year, the Ultrabook form factor has exploded across the PC industry, with OEMs including Dell, HP and Lenovo having gone to market with both consumer- and commercial-specific iterations of their own over the past few months.

According to statistics released by Intel last month, there are 21 Ultrabook models on the market today and over 110 designs in the pipeline. The company said in a blog post last month that it has expanded on its list of must-have specs for Ultrabooks running on its third-generation processors, including a mandatory USB 3.0 port and Intel’s Thuderbolt input/out technology.

The new Sony Vaio T Series of Ultrabooks is available now, with the 13.3-inch starting at $769.99. Both models run on Windows 7, but Sony said users will have the option of updating to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 between now and January 13, 2013.