With The New Sony Vaio Pro’ Has The MacBook Air Finally Met Its Match?

Not likely if recent sales metrics are an indication, but Fortune’s
JP Mangalindan says that holding Sony’s new 13-inch VAIO Pro in one hand, and you’ll be impressed by how light it feels – even lighter than the most svelte 11-inch MacBook Air. That’s thanks to carbon fiber being used throughout the Vaio Pro’s body, Sony having trimmed the laptop’s weight to 1.92 lbs. for the 11-inch version and 2.4 lbs for the 13-incher, substantially lighter than Apple’s unibody aluminum Airs – the Sony 13-incher, with its 1,920 x 1,080 display weighing just a hair more than the 11-inch Air.

Available in two shades – silver and carbon black – Mangalindan thinks this notebook looks like highly evolved versions of predecessors, suggesting that if Lenovo’s X1 Carbon with its safe, innocuous design, is the Lincoln Town Car of ultrabooks, the Sony Vaio Pro in black is a Tesla Model S.

However, Mangalindan concedes that while PC trackpad makers have covered some serious ground in catching up with the trackpads featured in Apple’s notebooks, they’re still not quite there yet, and the Vaio’s carbon fiber body, while durable, is not impermeable, and its extreme thinness allows some noticeable bending and flexing while typing or even just applying pressure to most of the keyboard area, cheapening the otherwise premium industrial design. Indeed, their rtortional rigidity is one of the qualities many MacBook Air owners prize.

He also notes that the Viao’s loud cooling fan cuts in whenever using the notebook for anything more strenuous than web browsing, and Sony claims the 13-incher only gets up to 7 hours of battery life in between charges, compared with a nominal (and easy to exceed acording to several lab testers) 12 hours. Mangalindan reports that with the screen dimmed to 75% or so, music streaming off and on, a half-hour of Netflix Instant streaming, and web surfing, he managed to get a real world 5 hours and 35 minutes.

The Sony Vaio Pro sells $150 more than the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Air. I don’t think Apple has anything to worry about here.

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