Designed to balance performance and portability, Apple’s MacBook Air has widely been described as one of the world’s best notebooks since its first-generation launch back in 2008.
But, Sony could prove a real contender to Californian tech giant Apple, with its new line of ultrabooks – the Sony Vaio Pro, which comes in either 11 or 13-inch models.
And Sony certainly isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to its goal. As product manager for Vaio Travis Furst, said: “We’re going to war with the MacBook Air.”
Vaio Pro Prices
In a market that prides itself on being compact and carriageable, Sony’s Vaio Pro is lighter than the Air and has a higher resolution screen, better specifications and a price which directly compares with Apple’s MacBook, coming in at $1,149 for the 11-inch version and $1,249 for the larger model.
Vaio Pro Features
Sony’s 13-inch Vaio Pro weighs in at just 2.34 pounds, making it more than half a pound lighter than the MacBook Air, impressive stuff indeed. And, at 0.68 inches thick, it’s exactly the same as Apple’s gizmo.
The Vaio Pro 11-inch model is the same width but even lighter, at 1.92 pounds, an incredible feat of engineering.
Both models run on Windows 8 and have 1920 x 1080 screen resolutions, giving them accurate, contrast-rich colours.
Each size comes in a choice of two classic colours, a chrome silver or glossy black. Our favourite is the darker version, which provides a sleek contrast to the reflective Vaio logo.
Some tech experts have criticised the Vaio Pro for feeling fragile, but Sony says its new models are made with “uni-directional carbon fibre,” which is lighter and stronger than aluminium, a material which Sony claims is “thin but not flimsy”.
Sony’s new gadgets are due to arrive in stores on June 9. So far, however, the Vaio has met with mixed reviews.
Cnet says: “It looks like the wait for some interesting ultrabooks might be over thanks to the launch of Intel’s fourth-gen Core i-series processors.”
But The Verge says while the 13-inch Vaio would be a good choice for those looking for a Windows 8 ultrabook who don’t want “any crazy hinges or convertible features,” the 11-inch model falters because of build-quality problems and a touchscreen that is too high-res for its screen size.
So, it looks as if Sony could have some way to go to convince consumers to take a leap into the unknown, rather than opting for Apple’s tried-and-tested MacBook.
And, the Vaio Pro is certainly not without further competition. Toshiba’s new Kirabook is targeting exactly the same market and also has its sights firmly set on Apple, with its PR people saying it compares with Apple – or, as they explained – “our apples to Apple’s apples.”
Toshiba’s Kirabook starts at $1,599 though and $1,799 for its more sophisticated touchscreen model, meaning you can get a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display for around the same money. That puts it well above Sony’s new Vaio, so the Japanese multinational may win over consumers with its price point alone.
It remains to be seen whether Apple will continue to enjoy its stranglehold on the ultrabook market.