Sony VAIO Tap 11 review

30 Sep 2013

Sony marries nippy performance and a superb HD screen to create the most desirable Windows 8 tablet yet

Price when reviewed: 
1,000(£999 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £833
Price inc VAT £1,000
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 303 x 187 x 15mm (WDH)
Weight 1.070kg
Travelling weight 1.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-4210Y
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3L
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,080
Resolution screen vertical 1,920
Resolution 1080 x 1920
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4200
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Spindle speed N/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchscreen, touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 8hr 41min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 25min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.54
Responsiveness score 0.78
Media score 0.52
Multitasking score 0.31

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8

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