Sony VAIO Duo 13 review
An amazingly long-lasting Haswell-powered hybrid – unfortunately, the design is still a compromise
There are many reasons to fall for Sony’s latest hybrid, the VAIO Duo 13. Whether it’s the novel sliding design, which sees it flip from Ultrabook to tablet in a moment; the presence of Intel’s power-efficient Haswell CPU technology; or the gleaming Full HD touchscreen, this 13.3in hybrid is hardly lacking in raw appeal.
The headline feature remains that nifty hinge, though. Just like its predecessor, the 11.6in VAIO Duo 11, the Duo 13 looks initially like a giant tablet, but gently lifting the rear of the display sees it spring upwards to reveal a keyboard and touchpad; two hooks on either side of the base grip the display’s bottom edge to hold it in place.
Yet, despite its larger 13.3in touchscreen, the VAIO Duo 13 remains impressively slender. It’s barely a centimetre wider and longer than the VAIO Duo 11, and only 1mm thicker. It isn’t much heavier, either. The VAIO Duo 13 weighs a reasonable 1.31kg – only 30g more than its 11.6in sibling.
With the VAIO Duo 13, Sony is keen to prove it’s learned from the mistakes it made with the VAIO Duo 11. Where the Duo 11’s hinge popped up to reveal a messy bundle of cables and sliding mechanisms, the VAIO Duo 13 is altogether more neat and streamlined. Most of the ports have been moved, too, with a pair of USB 3 ports, HDMI, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack now sensibly positioned along the rear edge, and the SIM card slot for the integrated 4G modem neatly secreted under the display.
There’s an active stylus included in the box, and as this is pressure-sensitive, it’s possible to take full advantage of the stylus for everything from handwriting recognition to more artistic pursuits. Disappointingly, there’s no way to stow the stylus inside the VAIO Duo 13’s chassis, but Sony has included a small plastic clip, which slots into the right-hand flank and holds the stylus in place. Sony has also added a flip-out stand just next to it, allowing the stylus to be propped up like a pen in an inkwell.
The larger chassis now affords room for a full-sized, backlit keyboard, and while the short-travel keys are a little lacking in feel compared to the best Ultrabooks, it’s easy to get up to touch-typing speed. We’re not sorry to see the back of the VAIO Duo 11’s optical trackpoint, but although the wide, squat touchpad is a step in the right direction, it remains far from ideal – it’s very thin, which means repeated strokes of the pad are required for larger movements, even with the sensitivity cranked right up.
|Warranty||2 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||330 x 210 x 22mm (WDH)|
|Travelling weight with extended battery||1.7kg|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4500U|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||0|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk||Toshiba SSD|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Camera megapixel rating||8.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||15hr 33min|
|Battery life, heavy use||2hr 11min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.73|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|