Sony VAIO Tap 11 review
Sony marries nippy performance and a superb HD screen to create the most desirable Windows 8 tablet yet
Sony proudly led the Windows 8 charge with its VAIO Duo 11 hybrid, and now it’s the turn of the VAIO Tap 11. Unlike its hybrid stablemates, the VAIO Tap 11 treads a more conventional path – it unites a svelte Windows 8 tablet with a featherlight wireless keyboard.
If first impressions count for anything, the Tap 11 gets off to a flying start. At a whisker less than 11mm thick, it’s 3mm thinner than Microsoft’s Surface Pro, and it’s lighter, too; indeed, Sony’s 780g tablet makes the Surface Pro feel decidedly overweight. As a result, it doesn’t feel quite as rock-solid and substantial as a result, but it isn’t plasticky or lightweight. The Tap 11’s body feels taut and well constructed, and the soft-touch matte plastics at the rear and the rounded, rubberised edges make it comfy to hold and easy to grip.
Hidden magnets clamp the keyboard on top of the tablet when it’s not in use, and a tiny row of electrical contacts keep its internal battery topped up. With the keyboard in place, the Tap 11’s overall thickness swells to 15mm, but it adds only 290g to the weight – with both in a bag, the combined weight of 1.07kg is incredibly light, even by the standards of top-flight Ultrabooks. There’s an active stylus thrown in, too, but you’ll have to carry this separately, as there’s no way of attaching it to the Tap 11 (unless you resort to sticky tape, that is).
Sony has hidden the Tap 11’s connectivity behind pop-out flaps. There’s a full-sized USB 3 port, a micro-HDMI output, microSD and a SIM slot for the optional 3G adapter. The laptop-style power adapter connects to the tablet’s bottom edge via a proprietary connector which, as a safety measure, unclips if the cable is yanked too hard.
In fact, there’s precious little missing. Sony has crammed in dual-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 4 and NFC, and it’s even found room for a decent set of internal speakers, which, with Sony’s Clear Audio technology enabled, are reasonably loud and surprisingly clear. The pair of cameras are less impressive, however. While the front-facing 0.9MP camera is fine for basic purposes, the 8MP sensor at the rear disappoints, with noisy, heavily compressed images.
The Sony’s touchscreen is the star of the show. With a Full HD resolution crammed into a 11.6in diagonal, text and images are absolutely pin-sharp, viewing angles are wide, and images look gorgeous. The maximum brightness isn’t as high as some tablets we’ve seen, but at 384cd/m[sup]2[/sup], it’s bright enough for outdoor use, and the measured contrast ratio of 817:1 is solid. Colour accuracy is great, too, and unlike some of its peers, the Sony’s panel covers almost every corner of the sRGB gamut, serving up a wide array of bold, saturated hues and lifelike skin tones.
Inside, Intel’s Haswell platform takes pride of place. The processor in question, the Core i5-4210Y, operates at only 1.5GHz, with Turbo Boost pushing clock speeds up to 1.9GHz when required, but its ultra-low-voltage design draws a maximum of only 11.5W. Yet, with 4GB of DDR3L low-voltage RAM and a Samsung 128GB SSD alongside, the Tap 11 feels anything but underpowered. Windows 8 feels slick and spritely, and an overall result of 0.54 in our Real World Benchmarks proves there’s sufficient power for heavyweight applications, such as Adobe Photoshop or Sony Vegas Pro.
|Warranty||2 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||303 x 187 x 15mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4210Y|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||0|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,080|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,920|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4200|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Pointing device type||Touchscreen, touchpad|
|Camera megapixel rating||8.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||8hr 41min|
|Battery life, heavy use||2hr 25min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.54|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|