Sony Vaio 11 Duo hybrid PC hands on review
A keyblet? It's an Ultrabook, apparently
IFA 2012 Examples of Windows 8 tablet plus detachable keyboard combo devices were all over IFA like a rash. However, Sony’s Vaio Duo 11 has a different approach that keeps the two components together. There are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement, whichever way you look at it. Great, I’ll never lose that keyboard... mmmh, this tablet is a bit heavy.
Indeed, pick up the Vaio Duo 11 in fondleslab mode and it does seem a chunky beast and, in a short time of use, its CSI fingerprint collecting all-black plastic casing turns it into the grubbiest piece of top notch tech you’ll find. But flip it open and the get busy on the keyboard and these aesthetics are soon forgotten as you gaze on the bright 11.6in 1920 x 1080-dot touchscreen and find yourself in notebook mode. Getting there is a bit of an easy-once-you-know-how affair though.
Lap it up: HD cameras on front and back
After attempts to prise up Vaio Duo 11 from tablet to keys mode failed to motion in anything like a fluid way, I had to collapse one nearby to appreciate the action required to flip it back up again. It seems a bit clumsy at first, but once you find the latch at back, then you soon get the knack, although you do need to steady or raise the Duo 11 slightly to get some purchase on it.
Point and click
A nice touch on the keyboard is the trackpoint controller in the middle of it, which utilises an optical sensor – you also get trackpad buttons into the bargain. This might seem a bit over-the-top for a tablet combo, but Sony describes the Vaio 11 Duo as an Ultrabook and when you take a closer look, there’s interfacing aplenty including a gigabit Ethernet port alongside the power socket.
Yet Sony obviously wants to bring the best of all possible worlds into its Windows 8 PC experience, so when you’ve had enough typing or tapping, you can dust off the digitiser stylus pen that has a choice of different tips for hard or soft scrawlers. The screen is pressure sensitive too, which will suit arty types and, for the rest of us, the pen will pull those neat tricks of copying and pasting encircled areas, as well as handwriting recognition and smoothing geometric shapes for sketches.
There’s no obvious lag with the pen, which has a battery in its shaft, but what is obvious is that the Vaio 11 Duo has nowhere to put its precious digitiser. There’s not a slot in sight, which suggests this is a bit of an afterthought.
USB 3.0 and HDMI...
Now, given this is an Ultrabook – yup, it will be available in Intel Core i7-3517U, Core i5-3317U or Core i3-3217U CPU versions – you can also tack a sheet battery onto the base to double its runtime. Sony includes options for the Pro version of Windows 8 along with either 4GB or 8GB RAM and SSD sizes of 128GB or 256GB. Needless to say, it acquits itself well of the scant tasks it could perform on the stand and looks all set to do a whole lot more given its connnectivity.
Multimedia card slot and... VGA? How quaint
There are no surprises in finding two USB 3.0 ports, a Memory Stick/SD card slot and HDMI, but VGA too? Aw, you shouldn’t have. Is this being practical or sentimental? No Thunderbolt then? Oh well... always leave them wanting more – like 3G perhaps? Still, A-GPS and NFC on there too, which, if you happen to have Sony’s latest MDR-1RBT Bluetooth cans, will pair with the Vaio 11 Duo with one touch. Nice.
Sony’s Vaio 11 Duo
deckchair hybrid Ultrabook PC will be available at the end of October, pricing has yet to be announced but the word ‘inexpensive’ probably won’t appear in the same sentence when it is. ®
Re: I wonder
How we hate those moniply people!
@ PXG - Re: I wonder
. . . what I meant was more in the way of Sony obviously copying Apple patented design. While this is, at this moment, not a big problem (Sony hasn't a market share* that interests Apples lawyers), it could be, if this form factor takes off. As Apple then wouldn't have a product to show that has this form factor as well, and, of course, had it before, it follows that other reasons would have to be found to stop it from being marketed.
One way of achieving this would be to just photographing it from the front, without unfolding the keyboard, removing the 'SONY' branding and then adjust the image so that it looks just like an iPad. This picture could then be shown to a jury of future proud Apple-product-of choice-owners who could then decide to ban it.
So, if Sony hasn't paid their 30% production tax, it would be prudent for Apple to start getting evidence and Photoshop ready to go...
* or the money.
Loving this form factor given Asus chap said the netbook market dead
This is after all a netbook in many ways, though tabletfied and yet still ticks all my wish's on a netbook - nice resolution, USB3, SSD. I can imagine if it had a seriel port many engineers would be changing there underwear about now, though I'm sure many still will thesedays with the inclusion of small factor and USB.
I just hope the batter life in use is good enough and upgradable and the price isn't too scary, though like most will probably have to wait a year for that to become palatable.
One thing you can be sure of
Judging by the prices of their netbookalikes, Sony is going to give this an insane price which will guarantee it'll disappear almost without trace.
Re: I wonder
It has windows installed which appears to act as garlic towards Apple, there again Microsoft did bail out Apple in the past so there is some cross-love going on there. Apple needed to stay around to keep the moniply people from bashing Microsoft too much and in a year or two Microsoft will need to be around to stop the monoply mob bashing Apple, hence mutual love.