Sony VAIO Duo 13 review

4 Jul 2013

An amazingly long-lasting Haswell-powered hybrid – unfortunately, the design is still a compromise

Price when reviewed: 
1,459(£1459 inc VAT)
4

There are many reasons to fall for Sony’s latest hybrid, the VAIO Duo 13. Whether it’s the novel sliding design, which sees it flip from Ultrabook to tablet in a moment; the presence of Intel’s power-efficient Haswell CPU technology; or the gleaming Full HD touchscreen, this 13.3in hybrid is hardly lacking in raw appeal.

The headline feature remains that nifty hinge, though. Just like its predecessor, the 11.6in VAIO Duo 11, the Duo 13 looks initially like a giant tablet, but gently lifting the rear of the display sees it spring upwards to reveal a keyboard and touchpad; two hooks on either side of the base grip the display’s bottom edge to hold it in place.

Yet, despite its larger 13.3in touchscreen, the VAIO Duo 13 remains impressively slender. It’s barely a centimetre wider and longer than the VAIO Duo 11, and only 1mm thicker. It isn’t much heavier, either. The VAIO Duo 13 weighs a reasonable 1.31kg – only 30g more than its 11.6in sibling.

With the VAIO Duo 13, Sony is keen to prove it’s learned from the mistakes it made with the VAIO Duo 11. Where the Duo 11’s hinge popped up to reveal a messy bundle of cables and sliding mechanisms, the VAIO Duo 13 is altogether more neat and streamlined. Most of the ports have been moved, too, with a pair of USB 3 ports, HDMI, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack now sensibly positioned along the rear edge, and the SIM card slot for the integrated 4G modem neatly secreted under the display.

Sony VAIO Duo 13

There’s an active stylus included in the box, and as this is pressure-sensitive, it’s possible to take full advantage of the stylus for everything from handwriting recognition to more artistic pursuits. Disappointingly, there’s no way to stow the stylus inside the VAIO Duo 13’s chassis, but Sony has included a small plastic clip, which slots into the right-hand flank and holds the stylus in place. Sony has also added a flip-out stand just next to it, allowing the stylus to be propped up like a pen in an inkwell.

The larger chassis now affords room for a full-sized, backlit keyboard, and while the short-travel keys are a little lacking in feel compared to the best Ultrabooks, it’s easy to get up to touch-typing speed. We’re not sorry to see the back of the VAIO Duo 11’s optical trackpoint, but although the wide, squat touchpad is a step in the right direction, it remains far from ideal – it’s very thin, which means repeated strokes of the pad are required for larger movements, even with the sensitivity cranked right up.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,216
Price inc VAT £1,459
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 330 x 210 x 22mm (WDH)
Weight 1.310kg
Travelling weight with extended battery 1.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-4500U
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3L
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4400
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Spindle speed N/A
Hard disk Toshiba SSD
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 15hr 33min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 11min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.73
Responsiveness score 0.87
Media score 0.74
Multitasking score 0.57

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8