The touch enabled laptops weren’t the only ones being announced at Sony’s Windows 8 device launch recently. Its flagship device, naturally, had to be different. Daring and unconventional, but totally innovative. In Sony’s eyes, it is the VAIO Duo 11, and we were fortunate enough to have a very brief period with the device.
Our hands-on continues after the break.
Unlike other manufacturers who go for hybrid tablets with detachable keyboards, Sony developed a touch-enabled laptop that has the ability to transform into a tablet, and vice versa. To do this, Sony had to make sure the mechanism had to be durable, but smooth enough that it could be shifted with even one finger. This mechanism is called Surf Slider, and it’s pretty brilliant. While questions will be raised over the sliding mechanism’s durability in the long run, it works perfectly and smoothly, making little fuss as it glides into its locked “desktop” position.
In addition, the VAIO Duo 11 runs on Windows 8 on an x86 architecture – hence the absence of any ARM-based processors here. And in keeping with the VAIO name, Sony fitted this 17.85mm thick device with the latest Intel Core i5-3317U processor and 4GB of RAM. There’s also a 128GB SSD in there, two USB 3.0 ports, as well as WiFi, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity. Also, there are VGA and HDMI ports, stereo speakers with xLOUD and an SD/Memory Stick Duo slot. For a laptop, that’s a pretty complete list.
But wait, there’s more. In keeping with its tablet nature, there are five sensors (GPS, accelerometer, gyrometer, compass, NFC), two Full HD webcams with Exmor for PC, and finally, a digital stylus. All these in a 1.3kg package.
For the display, there is an 11.6-inch Full HD OptiContrast Panel. OptiContrast is a proprietary Sony technology, which dramatically reduces the air gap between the touch panel and the LCD screen. This not only allows for a much thinner display, but also more accurate input using the digitizer stylus. Sony is so confident in this technology that its exclusive apps for the VAIO Duo 11, such as Active Clip and Power Point integration heavily utilises the digitizer stylus.
However, as slim as the VAIO Duo 11 is, its weight became an increasingly uncomfortable issue the longer it is used as a tablet. While the thickness made using it as a tablet a tad odd, after a while the 1.3kg starts to really become uncomfortable to hold, making the design somewhat redundant. Suddenly, a detachable keyboard sounds more appealing.
In spite of that, of course, the full-featured connectivity offered by the VAIO Duo 11 will attract a niche market, especially among business elites. And, cool factor aside, the RM3999 price tag will surely attract the crowds looking for a unique hybrid Windows 8 device.