Sony VAIO TT: unboxing, hands-on and impressions

It's not too often we get to toy around with a $4,449.99 laptop (these start at around $2,000), but that's precisely what we were able to do when Sony's packed-to-the-hilt VAIO TT (VGN-TT198U to be precise) arrived on our doorstop. The model we received included dual 128GB SSDs, a Blu-ray writer, 11.1-inch LED-backlit display, HDMI output, built-in MOTION EYE webcam, 802.11n WiFi, a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo SU9400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, Bluetooth and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. The 2.87-pound unit is essentially a huge thumb of the nose to netbooks everywhere, boasting a frame that's in the same ballpark (in terms of size) with innards and a price tag that contrast sharply. For those just interested in seeing what south of five large can buy you these days, head on down to the gallery below; if you're actually considering one of these puppies, hop on the past the break for a few impressions.


On the surface, Sony's VAIO TT is a real marvel of engineering. Here's a few thoughts on the beast-in-a-netbook's-body:

  • Unlike Lenovo's IdeaPad U110, the gloss factor wasn't an issue, as the matte keyboard and only slightly shiny display kept glare to a minimum.

  • Man, is this thing ever light. The carbon-fiber chassis makes it so you barely notice that this machine is even in your carry-on.

  • The keyboard is vastly better than that of the U110. The spacing is adequate, and your fingertips don't slip and slide all over. Sure, the keys themselves are small, but it's nothing you can't adjust to (and even enjoy) after a few hours of typing.

  • The port selection is quite robust given the size, but then again, we'd expect nothing less for nearly $4,500.

  • The trackpad is a delight to use, though the left / right click buttons don't have enough "give" for our tastes.

  • During basic testing of real-world use (web surfing, multimedia playback, word processing, etc.), it was as zippy as we could hope. We've got no benchmarks to prove it, but anyone worried about sluggishness here in basic computing shouldn't be.

  • The XBRITE display is magnificent. Clearly viewable from every angle, images are crisp and brightness is fantastic.

  • We really appreciate the screen's ability to recline to nearly flat. A big boon when typing in those awkward spaces (like in the rear of a cramped taxi).

  • Too much bloatware -- Sony loaded on a myriad of programs that really bogged things down when first entering into Vista. We'd prefer these applications on a disc for the user to install if he / she sees fit.

  • Sexy, but subtle design. Truth be told, the all-matte external finish makes this less of a looker than we originally anticipated, but the chrome accents and diminutive footprint still makes it drool-worthy. In fact, we'd wager that most folks out there willing to shell out a few Gs on this will prefer the subdued look over the garish -- not that we don't adore the Envy 133's flashy exterior or anything.

Our first response to "Is it really worth it?" would have to be "No." Sure, this rig is incredibly impressive in a plethora of ways, but we just don't see any combination of factors that justifies the stratospheric price tag. If you've cash to burn and just love the looks, you really can't go wrong with Sony's VAIO TT. But if you're looking for any value whatsoever in your next laptop purchase, we couldn't recommend blowing a good chunk of your child's college fund on this. With a straight face, anyway.