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Sony VAIO Duo 11 review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 15 Oct 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £1,250 (£1,500 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £1155
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

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.

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User comments

Want One!

That is all.

By PsYcHoTicTac on 16 Oct 2012

And how long will all those wires between the base and the screen last before they are damaged?
It looks like the worst of both worlds, at least with some of the others, you can leave the keyboard off if you don't want to lug it around.

By Ex_Sailor on 16 Oct 2012

What really annoys me is the fantastic screen resolution on such a small screen when the majority of laptops still don't come anywhere near that. What makes it even worse is that the OS is supposed to be finger friendly, so i'm expecting bigger icons to start with.

By khellan on 17 Oct 2012

Sony build quality

I spent a lot of money on the Sony VPCZ11X that I'm typing this on and I've spent a lot of money having the screen hinges replaced and the resultant cracked panel replaced. It's going again. I simply do not trust the mechanics of this thing to last more than 6 months.

By robinhow on 17 Oct 2012

All sort of start up and closing time speed tests should be done after you've been using your computer for a moth or so. Wouldn't take very seriously those tests on brand new computer.

By matuesto on 18 Oct 2012

Simply superb

I've used one of these for about an hour, and cannot fault it apart from the screen orientation issue mentioned in the review. I think it is an exceelent effort at being just what it was intended to be, and to be honest I think the criticisms in the review are a little harsh. For example it's never quite going to be as comfortable as a laptop to work on simply because it isn't a laptop. It's a bit like complaning that a Lamborghini has poor load carrying capacity. My only complaint would be that at this price point I would have hoped for a bundled optical drive, something I still use a lot but I certainly don't think build quality will be an issue and I believe Sony do include a 2-year warranty as standard.

By coolcity on 17 Nov 2012

Simply superb

I've used one of these for about an hour, and cannot fault it apart from the screen orientation issue mentioned in the review. I think it is an exceelent effort at being just what it was intended to be, and to be honest I think the criticisms in the review are a little harsh. For example it's never quite going to be as comfortable as a laptop to work on simply because it isn't a laptop. It's a bit like complaning that a Lamborghini has poor load carrying capacity. My only complaint would be that at this price point I would have hoped for a bundled optical drive, something I still use a lot but I certainly don't think build quality will be an issue and I believe Sony do include a 2-year warranty as standard.

By coolcity on 17 Nov 2012

Great Laptop

Only downside is the battery only lasts for 4 hours. The charger is 10.5volt and 4.3amps so it is hard to find alternate chargers. The stylus uses AAAA baterries. I wont know how to find a replacement when I run out.

By Mynightfire on 20 Dec 2012

Repair issues

I've enjoyed using this very much for the past 4 months, but a couple of days ago I dropped it, literally 3 feet, flat on it's back onto a carpeted floor. 6 of the keys bounced off, and 5 of the very thin and fragile key hinges are broken as a result.

Sony don't supply spares and want "around £63" - plus VAT no doubt - just to cover "collection, delivery and inspection" then of course there will be the cost of the repair itself. To replace a few snap-on keys which literally takes seconds and costs pennies? I don't think so, Sony.

I'm sure many other keyboards use similar thin and fragile hinges which are fine in normal use but that sort of repair cost for such a simple issue is enough to put me off buying Sony again unless they come back with a sensible solution.

By coolcity on 11 Mar 2013

SVD1121Q2EB hinge

Do you know where I can buy replacement hinge for my sony SVD1121Q2EB? Thanks

By Samsmica on 9 Apr 2014

SVD1121Q2EB hinge

Do you know where I can buy replacement hinge for my sony SVD1121Q2EB? Thanks

By Samsmica on 9 Apr 2014

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