Sony VAIO Tap 11 review

£1000
Price when reviewed

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.

Sony Tap 11

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.

Sony Tap 11

Performance

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

Warranty2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions303 x 187 x 15mm (WDH)
Weight1.070kg
Travelling weight1.4kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-4210Y
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3L
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total0

Screen and video

Screen size11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,080
Resolution screen vertical1,920
Resolution1080 x 1920
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 4200
HDMI outputs1

Drives

Capacity128GB
Spindle speedN/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speedN/A
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchscreen, touchpad
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating8.0mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use8hr 41min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 25min
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.54
Responsiveness score0.78
Media score0.52
Multitasking score0.31

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 8 64-bit
OS familyWindows 8

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