Sony VAIO Duo 11 review

15 Oct 2012

Sony’s convertible tablet gets Windows 8 off to an exhilarating start, but ergonomic niggles tarnish the experience

Price when reviewed 
1,500
Buy it now for 
4

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.

Sony VAIO Duo 11 - close-up of 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.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,250
Price inc VAT £1,500
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 322 x 200 x 21mm (WDH)
Weight 1.280kg
Travelling weight 1.6kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-3517U
Motherboard chipset Intel HM76
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
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
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 256GB
Hard disk usable capacity 238GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk Sandisk SD5SF2256G
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Replacement battery price ex VAT £120
Replacement battery price inc VAT £144

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Trackpoint
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Underside
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

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
Software supplied N/A

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