Sony VAIO Duo 11 review
Sony’s convertible tablet gets Windows 8 off to an exhilarating start, but ergonomic niggles tarnish the experience
The launch of Windows 8 is just around the corner, and after many months of sneak-peeks and product teases, the first of the new wave of products is finally here. The Sony VAIO Duo 11 fuses the DNA of an Ultrabook with an 11.6in Full HD tablet, and it's Sony's vision of the ultimate Windows 8 device.
Measuring 21mm thick at its rear, and tapering to a whisker over 18mm towards the front, the VAIO Duo 11 is thicker than the slimmest Ultrabooks, and, at 1.3kg, a good deal heavier than the Samsung Series 7 700T Slate Microsoft supplied to us for testing Windows 8. Build quality is excellent, however. The matte carbon base and metal keyboard surround feel outstandingly rigid, and there’s barely any flex or give in evidence until you start heaving it brutally from side to side.
While it fails to grasp the attention with achingly slim dimensions, the Sony’s relatively chunky frame conceals its novel party trick: grip the lip along the display’s upper edge, and a light tug sees the display pivot upwards and click home to reveal a keyboard underneath.
As the spring-loaded hinge takes up the rearward third of the Sony’s base, there isn’t the room for a full keyboard and dedicated touchpad. Instead, Sony has dedicated most of the available space to a compact, Scrabble-tile backlit keyboard, and squeezed in an optical trackpoint between the G, H and B keys. The trackpoint’s buttons, meanwhile, are placed on the raised keyboard surround below the spacebar, with the usual left- and right-buttons plus a middle button which, when held down, permits vertical scrolling with a nudge of the trackpoint.
In tablet mode, you can flick and gesture your way through Windows 8 with your fingers or, thanks to the N-Trig digitiser lurking beneath the display’s glossy finish, prod and scribble with the bundled stylus. The latter is a stylish, metal-clad affair with two buttons positioned on its brushed metal shaft, and is powered by a tiny AAAA battery. Neatly, there’s a choice of two pen nibs, allowing users to opt for a softer or firmer feel while inking.
Sony has crammed in plenty of features and connectivity, too. Looking around the VAIO Duo 11’s chamfered metal edges reveals two USB 3 ports, full-sized HDMI and D-SUB video outputs, an SD/MS card reader and a Gigabit Ethernet port at the rear, next to the power socket.
Peer under the front edge, and there are buttons for adjusting the volume, launching Sony’s VAIO Care software suite and toggling the automatic screen rotation on and off. Sony has also crammed in a pair of front- and rear-facing 2mp cameras, a TPM 1.2 module, and dual-band 802.11abgn wireless, Bluetooth 4 and NFC support.
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||322 x 200 x 21mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3517U|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM76|
|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 4000|
|Graphics card RAM||N/A|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||238GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/600|
|Hard disk||Sandisk SD5SF2256G|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price ex VAT||£120|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£144|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Trackpoint|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||2.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 6min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.71|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 Pro 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition|