Sony Vaio Tap 11 Review. Планшет vaio


Sony VAIO Tap 11 tablet PC

Ilhan Engin : 29 Eylül 2013 - 11:05 CET

Sony VAIO Tap 11 tablet PC

Sony VAIO Tap 11 tablet bilgisayar : Sony dünyanın Intel Core İşlemci Ailesi’ne sahip en ince Windows Tablet PC’si VAIO Tap 11’i duyurdu. Sony’nin sunduğu dünyanın Intel Core İşlemci Ailesi’ne1 sahip en ince Windows Tablet PC’si VAIO Tap 11 düşük ağırlığına ve küçük boyutlarına rağmen her kullanıcının kişisel bilgisayar ihtiyacını karşılıyor. Sadece 9,9 mm kalınlığı (klavyesiz) ile, geleneksel bir dizüstü bilgisayar ile aynı kolaylığı sunan tablet biçimli VAIO Tap 11, Intel Core İşlemci Ailesi’nin en son üyesi sayesinde de aynı bilgi işlem gücünü sağlıyor. Sony, ilk olarak bayrak gemisi akıllı telefonu Xperia Z’de sunduğu tasarım felsefesinin aynısını şık VAIO Tap 11’de de kullanıyor.
Sony Vaio Tap 11 dünyanın en ince gövdesine sahip tablet PCHer noktasında dengeli ve simetrik minimalist formu, zarifçe yuvarlanmış köşelere ve tüm kenarlarında pürüzsüz parlak yüzeyleri ile dikkat çekiyor. VAIO Tap 11 tablet PC’ler arasında dünyanın en ince * gövdesini de sunuyor. VAIO Tap 11’in aynı zamanda kablosuz bağlantı üzerinden kullanılabilen, touchpad’e sahip bir aralıklı manyetik klavye/kılıfı da bulunuyor. Bu, kullanıcılara normalde bir dizüstü kişisel bilgisayar üzerinde yapılan yüksek düzeylerde üretkenlik gerektiren işleri yapma yeteneğini de sunuyor. Diğer yandan, klavyeyi çıkartma yeteneği de kullanıcıların çeşitli durumlarda çalışabilmesine imkan veriyor. Manyetik klavye kullanılmadığında ekrana kolaylıkla takılabilmesi sayesinde de ekran için koruyucu kılıf işlevi görüyor.Vaio Tap 11 ile hareket halindeyken bile kapsamlı notlar alabilirsinizVAIO Tap 11 üzerinde kağıt ve kalem kullanımını kopyalayabilmek üzere, dizüstü bilgisayar her kullanıcının yaratıcılık ve düzenleme ihtiyaçlarını karşılamak üzere VAIO Inspiration Suite yüklü olarak sunuluyor. VAIO Inspiration Suite, kullanıcıların hareket halindeyken kapsamlı notlar alabilmesini sağlayan CamScanner, VAIO Paper ve VAIO Clip uygulamaları bulunuyor. Kullanıcılar CamScanner üzerinde çekilip düzeltilen görüntüleri alarak VAIO Clip ile görüntünün konusunu çıkartabiliyor, ardından da dijitalleştirici stylus ile VAIO Paper üzerinde görüntülerinin tepesine notlarını yazabiliyorlar. Bu sayede, kullanıcılar kağıt üzerinde kalemle yazı yazmak veya çizim yapmak ile aynı deneyimi ve daha fazlasını elde edebiliyorlar.Tap 11 Sony Vaio Tablet PCBu kağıt-kalem deneyimi, VAIO dijitalleştirici stylus ile daha da geliştiriliyor. Yüksek doğruluk ve çok düşük paralaks hassasiyeti ile üretilen stylus ile birlikte, biri düşük sürtünme direnci için sert uç diğeri ise kağıt üzerine yazı yazmayı taklit etmek için yumuşak uç olmak üzere iki farklı kalem ucu veriliyor. Böylece, kullanıcının panel üzerine çizdiği her şeyin ekranda da doğru ve direkt olarak taklit edilebilmesi de güvence altına alınıyor. Sony Vaio Tap 11 Tablet görüntü kalitesiVAIO Tap 11’in üzerinde bulunan OptiContrast panelin yansımayı azaltarak daha net izlemeyi desteklemesi sayesinde de daha yüksek parlaklık ve kontrast düzeylerine sahip kayda değer ölçüde daha iyi görüntüler sunuyor. Bu, dizüstü bilgisayarın parlak aydınlatmalı odalarda dahi kullanılabilmesi anlamına geliyor. Yapıdaki havanın ortadan kaldırılması yoluyla dokunmatik panel sensörünün ekrana daha da yaklaştırılması sonucunda dokunma hassasiyeti yükseltilerek kullanıcılara daha sezgisel bir deneyim sunulmuş oluyor. Sony Vaio Tap 11 Tablet bilgisayar Kişisel bilgisayarları başlarken beklemekten sıkılan kullanıcılar için, VAIO Tap 11 üzerindeki Rapid Wake + Eco fonksiyonu bu sorunun ortadan kaldırılmasını sağlarken uyku modunda da VAIO’nuzun pil ömrünü daha da uzatıyor. Kullanıcının daha önce kişisel bilgisayarı üzerinde gerçekleştirdiği görevlere çabucak geri dönebilmesi için tek yapması gereken haftasonu veya hafta tatilleri sona erdiğinde dizüstü bilgisayarlarının klavyesini/kılıfını çıkarmak. Yeni çok yönlü VAIO Tap 11 Eylül 2013’ten itibaren Asya Pasifik bölgesinde temin edilebilecek.

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Sony Vaio Tap 11 Review

Introduction

Sony's engineering chops are really showing this year, across its phones, tablets and convertibles portfolio. The Vaio Tap 11 is just the next in the line of slim, sexy looking devices Sony churns out, and as far as Windows tablets go, it can brag with “the thinnest” title, too.

Despite the record for a full-size Windows tablet 0.39” (10mm) thickness, the Tap 11 manages to pack a Haswell processor line, 11” 1080p display, and plenty of storage. It also comes with an Active Pen stylus, and a completely detached keyboard that snaps on magnetically to serve as a screen cover, and charges from the tablet itself then.

Surprisingly enough, given the specs and the fact that it runs fully featured Windows 8, not the RT version, Sony managed to keep the Tap 11 pricing competitive, starting it at $799. If it sounds too good to be true, there's the inevitable catch, as this slim body fits a smaller battery, and the Tap 11 battery life is half of said iOS or Android tablets. Will this turn out to be just an inconvenience compared to the tablet's other virtues? Read on to find out...

Design

Sony's creation here is one of the prettiest Windows tablets out there, period, and not only because it is so slim and comes at just 1.7 pounds (770 g). Sony has dressed the soft-feel magnesium alloy slate in white, and has included a kickstand to prop the display when using the tablet as a laptop, as the keyboard is not attached to it with hinges, or a dock connector. We can't say we dig the “unhinged” concept, with anything larger than 10”, as the screen part becomes somewhat uncomfortable to hold while watching videos on a long flight, for example. Sony's execution with the thin kickstand doesn't help in that respect, too, though it is good for desk work.

When we saw the relatively thin kickstand initially, we had qualms about its rigidity, but the weight is very well balanced, and the tablet doesn't wobble even when you poke at the touchscreen. Moreover, it allows you to adjust the screen at any angle in an 85-degree range, unlike Microsoft's new Surface line, which limits you in two positions. You still have to keep prodding the back and adjust the kickstand each time you need a simple screen tilt, unlike a laptop where you simply push back or pull forward the screen part.

The tablet and the keyboard only come together when the keyboard plops keys down on the screen, attaching itself with magnets as a protective cover, and only a small connector at the top goes into the tablet part for charging.

You can tell a real Windows tablet from the bevy of ports and slots around it, and the Tap 11 doesn't disappoint here. Since the goal has obviously been to make a standalone slate, the screen part houses all the ports and slots, and the keyboard only serves for typing and screen protection. You get a full-size USB 3.0 port and mini HDMI under a protective lid on the left, as well as a SIM card and microSD slots up top, again with a protective flap, and next to a Sony Assist key that enters the BIOS and troubleshooting mode.

The USB port has a sleep charge regime, so you can top off your electronics from it even when the tablet is not active. The very short and stubby plug of the wall charger feels a bit insecure, though the purpose of this has been to prevent the tablet from flying off your desk when you trip in the power cord. The power brick has a separate USB port, too, so you can charge a phone, for example, while juicing the tablet.

The power/lock key and the volume rocker on the right are easy to feel and press, with nice clicky feedback. The circular metallic lock key is done in the Omnibalance design tradition of recent Xperia phones and tablets, immediately implying this tablet is a Sony, regardless of the operating system. We get a physical home key with the Windows logo on it underneath the display, which is a bit too recessed and hard to easily press, with shallow tactile feedback.

Magnetic keyboard

The keyboard is rather thin in its turn, and with brushed aluminum looks on the back. It snaps magnetically onto the display, serving as a screen protector. The keys are recessed, so you needn't worry they'll scratch the panel, and there is a nice touchpad in the middle of the palm rest, with clicky one-piece mouse keys underneath. The touchpad dots are slightly elevated to mark its existence, but otherwise patterned in the palm rest's color, giving the keyboard an uninterrupted look.

The Bluetooth keyboard is just 4.5mm thick, so even when it's tacked on, the Vaio Tap 11 is still thinner than an ultrabook. Decked up in white with aluminum back, it looks rather nice with its chiclet buttons, and despite the thin frame, we get decent 1mm of key travel, making it very suitable for some serious typing. There aren't any charging ports around it, which probably contributed to the slim profile, and the keyboard latches onto a small three-prong dock connector in the tablet itself, juicing up from it when it serves as a display cover. It has an on/off slider at the top, along with an LED charging status indicator.

Active Pen input

The other input method Sony provides with the Tap 11 is a metal Active Pen stylus, powered by a small AAAA battery inside. It doesn't have a silo to become integral part of the tablet, but rather a clip-on holder, which can be a bit flimsy, so you have to keep it in mind always. Sony's responsive digitizer allows you to preview content such as titles, messages or pics, by just hovering the stylus over, similar to Samsung's Air View feature on the Note line. Sony has preinstalled apps like Note Anytime, which are meant for stylus use and let you quickly jot down notes, annotate with VAIO Paper, clip pics and web site content with the VAIO Clip app, or straight out draw on the display.

Display

The 11.6” Triluminous LCD display of Sony is with the pretty 1920x1080 pixels of resolution, returning 190 pixel per inch count. Granted, there are tablets with much higher pixel density out there, but for most every need 1080p is more than enough on such a screen size.The panel sports flashy, somewhat oversaturated colors, especially when running media, and deep enough black levels for an LCD screen, which make video playback a joy. Brightness levels are pretty high for a tablet, and screen reflections are kept in check, so when you need to take it outside, the Vaio Tap 11 won't disappoint.

Viewing angles are also great, with barely a shift in brightness and contrast, even at extreme angles. High-res tablets like the Vaio Tap 11 are worth it for their screen alone, especially if you are coming from a crappy laptop HD display of yesteryear, where a movie can be watched by only one person, for example, as the slightest screen tilt deteriorates the picture badly.

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meet Sony's answer to the Surface Pro

Look and feel

As we examine the Tap 11, we're faced with a tough question: would we have preferred this be thin and light, and made of so-so materials? Or a bit weightier, with unimpeachable build quality? We know where Sony stands on the issue, anyway: at 1.7 pounds and 0.39 inch thick, the Tap 11 cuts a skinny figure. Indeed, Sony claims it's the thinnest Windows 8 tablet with a Core processor inside (the Surface Pro 2 comes in at two pounds and 0.53 inch thick, despite having a smaller 10.6-inch footprint). And you know what? The Tap 11 makes a damn good first impression: we look at it and wonder why every other Core i5 hybrid can't be this thin. And particularly with the brushed-aluminum keyboard attached to the front as sort of a makeshift laptop lid, it looks not just slim, but expensive, too.

Sony cut corners to keep the weight down (and, perhaps, to meet a certain price point).

But the more time we spent with the Tap 11, the more obvious it became that Sony cut corners to keep the weight down (and, perhaps, to meet a certain price point). Part of it is the build materials. With the exception of some metal accents on the edges and buttons, the Tap 11 is made of plain plastic. This wouldn't necessarily be an issue (see: the iPhone 5c and nearly any Lumia phone), but in this case, we have some concerns about the craftsmanship. For instance, when you press the Start button on the front face, you can see the plastic enclosure separate slightly from the glass. Stick a fingernail in there and you can pry it even farther away, though we admittedly never succeeded in wrenching it off. Ditto for the port covers hiding the microSD/SIM slots on top and the USB 3.0/micro-HDMI connections on the right: they feel flimsy, and don't snap in firmly when it's time to cover those openings again.

And we have other quibbles too: the Start button can be difficult to press because it's so stiff; we would've much preferred a touch-sensitive button, maybe one with haptic feedback. Also, there are a few too many exposed screws here: two underneath each of the port covers, and then another three on the underside of the kickstand.

What the Tap 11 lacks in polish, though, it makes up for in sheer practicality, with that kickstand being perhaps the best example. Forgetting the fact that it's not as discreet as the one on the Surface Pro, it's easier to open, thanks to a wide notch that's easy to slip a fingernail into. What's interesting is that whereas Microsoft's going out of its way to tout the new Surface's two-stage kickstand, Sony's model supports not just two kickstand positions, but... all of them. Going back to that "function over form" thing, the Tap 11's kickstand has a strip of rubber at the end, ensuring that no matter how far out you pull the kickstand, it will stay put on your desk. Incidentally, too, that rubber tip means the Tap 11 is also comfortable to use in your lap; you won't have any blunt metal edges digging into your legs. Meanwhile -- and not to pick on Microsoft here -- you have no choice but to use that second kickstand position with the Surface Pro 2, since it's the only one that makes for a truly stable, comfortable experience when you're using it on your lap.

We also grew to appreciate the wireless keyboard, which attaches to the Tap 11 via a single magnetic connection on the lower-right corner of the tablet's front face. It latches on with enough strength that you could carry the whole thing around in one hand, like a netbook, and not have to worry about it falling off. The magnet's also strong enough that you never have to guide the keyboard cover onto the tablet; it just falls into place. At the same time, the keyboard is never a pain to remove: you can even slide it aside with your thumb while holding it in one hand.

Finishing our tour of the device, there's that microSD/SIM door on the top side, as we said, along with a labeled NFC area and a VAIO Assist button, just like the one you'll find on Sony's various notebooks. Nearby, on the right landscape edge, you'll find a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, along with a small metal power button and a matching volume rocker. As a refresher, the left landscape edge is home to the door with the full-sized USB 3.0 port and the micro-HDMI socket. Further down on that same side is where the power socket lives, so when you've got this thing plugged in and propped up, the cable will be trailing out pretty close to the desk (that's a good thing we think -- more discreet).

The bottom edge, of course, is where we might normally expect to find some sort of docking connector, but again, there's just one, and it's located on the front face, over in the lower-right corner. Returning to the backside, there's a vent along the top edge, with the main 8-megapixel, Exmor RS camera sitting very close by. (The front-facing camera is a 2-megapixel affair, which uses Sony's older Exmor R CMOS sensor.) Also on the back are two speaker grilles, each sitting off to one side, closer to the bottom edge. Additionally -- and this is important -- the Tap 11 will ship with a pen holder. That's important because, you know, the pen comes standard in the box. Pulling it all together is a metal, diamond-cut VAIO logo stamped in the middle of the back -- this is a Sony product, after all. Finally, under the hood, this has NFC, as we said, along with 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and support for Intel Wireless Display.

Keyboard

If the Surface's Touch Cover keyboard requires a learning curve, the Tap 11's should feel instantly familiar. The entire thing is very reminiscent of Sony's VAIO laptops -- it's got the same generous spacing between the buttons, and the same relatively shallow pitch of the keys. Speaking of the sort, if this really were an Ultrabook, we might take issue with the short travel, however considering this isn't a laptop keyboard, but more of a keyboard case, these buttons are quite tactile. We easily got the hang of typing on them, and found we could almost always find the correct key without looking (it helps that major buttons like Shift, Enter and Backspace are all pretty big.) As a bonus, the keyboard has a convenient on/off switch at the top, along with two LED indicators, making it easy to tell when you've successfully paired it with the tablet over Bluetooth.

The Tap 11's keyboard also has a trackpad built in, and it's both taller and wider than we would have expected, especially since it's competing for space with a very well-spaced set of keys. At first, we thought the trackpad's textured surface seemed to present too much friction, but we actually came to appreciate the tactile feedback. The one thing we had to get used to was the narrow touch button that sits below the touchpad: you have to train yourself to press it at the very left and right ends. Otherwise, if you catch that dead zone in between, the button is much harder to press than it should be.

Display and sound

If you go through our laptop reviews written over the past few months, you'll see we haven't met a display from Sony that we haven't liked. With few exceptions, Sony's been using all 1,920 x 1,080 IPS panels, and they're all of magnificent quality. In particular, this guy makes use of Sony's own Triluminos technology, which the company already uses in its Bravia televisions to improve color reproduction. Indeed, the colors here are vibrant, but not too saturated, and we enjoyed some wide viewing angles, both from head-on and from off to the side. Granted, that versatile kickstand may also have a little something to do with that.

As for the touchscreen, our pre-production (read: not-quite-final) system didn't always respond to taps and other gestures. Fortunately, though (if that's the right word), Sony says it's aware of the issue and that by the time this goes on sale, there should be a firmware update in place to help correct the issue.

We haven't met a display from Sony that we haven't liked.

Happily, pen input works well, even on this pre-production unit. Like it did with the Duo 11 and Duo 13, Sony went with an N-trig active digitizer to power the pen input. While a few of our readers might be disappointed it's not a Wacom digitizer, Sony explains it chose N-trig because it places the sensor at the tip of the pen, allowing for the best possible sensitivity. Indeed, the tablet picked up all of my handwriting; I never had to go back and re-trace my penmanship. Also, the pressure sensitivity worked much better than we expected, given our disappointing experience with an N-trig digitizer on the Acer Aspire R7. In Fresh Paint, for instance, we enjoyed thick brush strokes when we bore down with the pen, but we were also able to sketch faint lines by lightly dragging the pen across the screen. This might not silence those of you who swear Wacom does a better job, but we guarantee most people buying this won't be able to tell the difference.

As it happens, we tested the Tap 11 alongside the Sony VAIO Flip 15, so we have some interesting perspective on the audio here. On its own, the Tap 11 doesn't get that loud, which isn't surprising for a tablet this size. But the volume is actually on par with Sony's 15-inch notebook, and we'd argue the quality is better too. Whereas the Flip 15's audio sounded empty and distant, we enjoyed some balanced tracks on the Tap 11. All of which is to say, the Tap's sound might not be exceptional, but it's not half-bad for a product in this category.

Performance and battery life

Take those benchmark scores up there with a grain of salt. Well, don't do that exactly, but at least approach them with this little bit of context. Unlike almost every other Haswell PC we've tested these past few months, the Tap 11 makes use of Intel's Y-series chips, which consume even less power than the U-series processors we normally find inside Ultrabooks. So, it's not surprising, then, that the Tap 11 turns in lower benchmark scores than other recent Sony machines, like the Pro 11 and Duo 13. That said, in practical use, it keeps up with the best of them, with boot-up times averaging 14 seconds and read speeds topping out at 548 MB/s (this is normal for an SSD, especially one that doesn't follow the PCI Express standard). Also, what you lose in bragging rights, you make up for in efficient power management. Whereas music streaming (or even sitting idly) might trip up a bigger system, the Tap 11 stayed cool and quiet throughout.

Sony doesn't say how long the battery inside the Tap 11 is supposed to last, but given that it has a Haswell processor, we'd assume it would offer longer runtime than the Surface Pro, or the ASUS TAICHI 21, or any other laptop/tablet hybrid we tested with last year's Ivy Bridge chips. And that's true: the 3,800mAh battery here made it through five hours and 14 minutes of video playback, with WiFi on and the screen set to a fixed brightness. That's more than a 20 percent improvement over what we got from the Surface Pro and the TAICHI 21, neither of which was able to crack four hours on the same test. Still, if you were hoping this would last seven, eight or nine hours, like a Haswell Ultrabook, you're going to be disappointed: this thing just doesn't have the same battery capacity.

Software and warranty

Sony pre-loads the Tap 11 with a fair deal of software, including many of its own proprietary apps. These include VAIO Message Center, Album by Sony, Music by Sony, Socialife, VAIO Care, ArcSoft Camera for VAIO, Note Anytime for VAIO, PlayMemories Home, VAIO Movie Creator, VAIO Update and VAIO Control Center. There are a few third-party apps too: CamScanner, Intel Experience Center (along with the Intel AppUp store), iHeartRadio, Microsoft Office, a trial of Kaspersky Internet Security 2013, Crackle, My Daily Clip, Evernote Touch, Music Maker Jam and -- big finish here -- Pac-Man Championship Edition for Xbox Live. Phew -- that seems like a lot, now that we've tried to say it all in one breath.

The Tap 11 comes with a one-year warranty, including toll-free, 24/7 phone support.

Configuration options

The Tap 11 starts at $799 with an Intel Pentium 3560Y processor, which pretty much explains why Sony was able to undercut the Surface Pro by hundreds of dollars. You can also get it with a Core i3-4020Y CPU ($1,000) or a Core i5-4210Y ($1,100) chip. That means if you were to get the Core i5 version, it's actually about the same price as a 128GB Surface Pro 2 ($999) with a $120 keyboard. So much for undercutting, right?

Whichever configuration of the Tap 11 you get, entry-level specs include a 128GB SSD, integrated Intel graphics, NFC and 802.11n WiFi (not ac). Storage-wise, you can opt for a bigger SSD if you like (256GB and 512GB are the two upgrade options). Regardless, it comes with 4GB of RAM, and the keyboard and pen are both included in the box.

The competition

Sony, if you're reading this, it's not too late to rewrite the Tap 11 as a more competitive product.

The headline says it all, really. With a kickstand and an 11-inch, 1080p IPS display that supports pen input, the Tap 11 is nothing if not a competitor to the Surface Pro. Fortunately for consumers who don't feel like waiting any longer to make a purchasing decision, Microsoft just came out with a sequel, the Surface Pro 2, so what follows will be an apples-to-apples comparison between to very fresh devices.

The new Surface starts at $899 with 64GB of storage, a Core i5 Haswell CPU, 4GB of RAM, 802.11ac WiFi and a 10.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display with a Wacom digitizer for pen input. If you like, you can also get it with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of built-in storage ($999/$1,299/$1,799). If you go for the 256GB or 512GB model in particular, you'll also get twice the RAM. Either way, unlike Sony, Microsoft still isn't offering a keyboard in the box -- you'll have to pay either $120 or $130 extra, depending on whether you go for the Touch Cover (the flat one made out of polyurethane) or the Type Cover (​the one with physical buttons).

We also wouldn't count out Dell. The company recently unveiled the Venue 11 Pro Windows 8.1 tablet, and that, too, seems made to take on the Surface Pro. What we have here is a 10.8-inch tablet with a 1,920 x 1,080 display that also supports pen input, thanks to a Synaptics digitizer. What's interesting, though, is that though you could get it for as cheap as $500 with an Intel Bay Trail processor, you could also configure it with a Core i3/i5 Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of built-in storage (presumably for a lot more money). It also has a removable battery for a change, with runtime rated at up to 10 hours. People who like to bring their devices to work will also appreciate that it has TPM security, along with Intel's more manageable vPro processors -- both table stakes for IT departments, don'tcha know.

Additionally, Dell will be offering it with a series of accessories, though unfortunately, they're all sold separately (unlike what Sony's doing). These peripherals include a "Slim" keyboard, which doubles as a case (similar to the Tap 11), a "Mobile" keyboard with a built-in battery and a "Tablet Desktop Dock" with dual USB 3.0 ports and two video-out sockets.

Wrap-up

When we learned that the Tap 11 came standard with a Pentium processor and not a fourth-generation Core chip, we were forced to rewrite parts of this review: the review card and even the conclusion you're reading now. Had Sony started at $800 with a Core i5 or even Core i3 chip, it would be undercutting Microsoft in a big way, and giving people a very good reason to not buy the similar-looking Surface Pro 2. We would have silenced all the skeptics who say Sony only sells overpriced things.

As is, though, the companies charge about the same for similar specs, and from what we can tell, Microsoft's tablet is of higher quality. Don't get us wrong: the Tap 11 has some good things going for it: the keyboard is comfortable; pen input works well; the tablet itself is thin and light; and the 1080p IPS display offers fantastic viewing angles. But it's clear that Sony had to compromise on build quality to achieve that attractive price point. And while we haven't yet tested the Surface Pro 2 for battery life and performance, we've spent enough time with it to know it's a more carefully made product, even if it's heavier. For now, we'd encourage you to at least wait for our Surface review to see how the two stack up. And Sony, if you're reading this, it's not too late to rewrite the Tap 11 as a more competitive product: all you need is a little price drop.

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Sony VAIO Tap 11 review

Every month, it feels like the gap between tablets and laptops is getting smaller – or at least, it feels like a new company is trying to make it smaller.

Everything from the new Surface Pro 2 to the Samsung ATIV Smart PC or the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 10 is trying to combine low-powered laptop components with a tablet's portability and weight.

The Sony VAIO Tap 11 comes in at the higher end of the spectrum for these kinds of machines, with a price tag of around £999/USD $1,606/AUD $1,692 for the model we used.

That's a huge amount steeper than the Lenovo Miix 10, but the Lenovo uses a meagre Intel Atom processor, while the VAIO Tap 11 has something new from Intel to show off.

There's a new kind of super-low-power processor at the heart of the Tap 11, called the Intel Core i5-4210Y.

The Tap 11 has an extremely diminutive form factor

We'll go into more details about it in the specifications section, but it basically uses the powerful Haswell architecture of Intel's latest chips, rather than the drastically simplified cores of the Atom chips. In theory, it's Haswell, in a tablet, with a low power draw!

The idea is that you can still have the slim and light tablet chassis, but without the frequently tedious performance of the Lenovo Miix 10 or the Acer Iconia W510. It's designed to go up against the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, rather than the low-end tablets.

And, indeed, the VAIO Tap 11 is nicely thin and light. It's 9.9mm thick, and weighs 780g, making only slightly heavier and thicker than the iPad 4, despite its extra processing power.

Decent specs

Sony has still managed to squeeze in a decent spec list in addition to the Intel Core i5 processor, though. There's 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a USB 3.0 port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, a micro-HDMI port and microSD card reader, NFC and front and rear cameras.

It also comes with a keyboard, much like many of its kind (though you still have to buy the Surface Pro's keyboard separately…), which doubles as a screen protector for when you travel. It's a very thin add-on, though it weighs almost as much as the tablet itself. It's wireless, and charges itself from the VAIO Tap 11 when it's connected to the front of the tablet magnetically. There's no other way to charge it, so if it gives up while you're working, you'll just have to… stop working.

There's also a powered stylus, which works with a digitizer in the screen to give you precision touch control and drawing. Both the keyboard and the stylus don't need setting up at all – just turn them on and they'll work, which is handy.

Sony is keen to point out the creative potential of the tablet, giving it a glorious 1920x1080 screen for detailed drawing. The screen is only 11.6 inches, so it's lovely and sharp.

The screen is a nice glossy one

From the front, the VAIO Tap 11 is a looker, with a glossy black front, and a smart bezel surrounding the screen. As with most Windows tablets, the idea of using it portrait mode has been pretty much abandoned, with a rear kickstand combining with the Sony logo and positioning of the Windows Start button on the front to indicate that you should just use it in landscape.

The Start button is quite annoying, because it's a quite resistive physical button rather than a touch-sensitive one, and if the tablet is standing using its kickstand you'll need to use two hands to stop it slipping around when pressing it.

It's a shame that the smart front is slightly marred by the connection for the keyboard to charge in the bottom corner, but it's not the only less desirably build element of the Tap 11.

Some poor finishing, especially around flaps

The edges of the unit fit together well enough, but wherever there's an opening or flap they're incredibly poorly finished, with port covers not seating properly and rough, pointy corners around holes for the headphone jack or power cable.

The back is mostly just plain plastic, but you'll find speakers here, as well as a flip-out stand. The stand helps you create a laptop-like setup with the keyboard, and has a brilliant stiffness to it, so that you can adjust the angle of the screen.

They keyboard and pen are both really well-made, though, in simple matt black, so that they match the device overall.

The stylus matches the overall look

The most unusual thing about the Sony VAIO Tap 11 is the new kind of Intel processor that it showcases. It's designed to allow the Tap 11 to provide capabilities closer to the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, but in a package more like the thinner regular Surface 2.

The chip used here is the Intel Core i5-4210Y. It's a dual-core chip, based on Intel's most up-to-date designs known as Haswell. As we said, other low-power Windows 8 machines, such as the Lenovo Miix 10, use Intel Atom processors, which are built differently, and optimised for lower energy consumption, with processing power suffering considerably as a result.

The Core i5-4210Y is an attempt to get better performing chips down to levels of power that will allow for something closer to the battery life of the iPad 4 without losing the fuller capabilities of Windows. Intel is suggesting that in some light-use scenarios, the chip could use just six Watts of power, which is around a third of the maximum power used by the higher performance Haswell ultraportable chips in the latest MacBook Air.

Max power

However, when you look at the maximum power used by the 4210Y, under heavy load, it's around 75% as power-hungry as the more powerful chips. We'll probably have to wait until Broadwell to see this kind of thing reach its potential, but if the technology is currently capable of giving the Tap 11 a nice long battery life for more basic use, it could be very useful here.

The dual-core 4210Y features Intel's HyperThreading technology, offering a boost in some operations, and is clocked at 1.5GHz, with Turbo Boost taking that up to 1.9GHz when possible.

It's no surprise to see that the graphics in the VAIO Tap 11 are of the integrated variety from Intel. The Intel HD 4200 is the lowest-end of Intel's graphics range for Haswell chips, which helps in keeping power use low, but means that it's a significant drop off in power compared to even the graphics in the MacBook Air.

However, Intel has continued to improve its graphics chip designs in Haswell, and the difference between what's in the VAIO Tap 11 and what's in Atom-powered tablets such as the Samsung ATIV Smart PC is vast.

Few surprises

Elsewhere, the VAIO Tap 11 carries few surprises, but that includes nothing nasty when it comes to specs.

The 4GB of RAM is plenty for most uses. It's not great for high-end graphics work, but should be fine for some photo editing, and is more than enough for home use or working on documents.

The 128GB SSD should keep sleep and wake times to a minimum, though the amount of free space really isn't huge – you'll have something like 50GB available to use for storage and programs. There is a microSD card slot for some additional storage space, at least.

As we said, there's 11.6-inch, 1920x1080 screen, which is the sort of thing we'd expect for a tablet at this price. The micro-HDMI port enables you to connect larger screens, too.

The standard USB 3.0 port is a nice addition, and it's good to see Bluetooth 4.0 included, allowing for low-power Bluetooth accessories to connect. The Wi-Fi is 802.11b/g/n, meaning that the fastest current protocol, 802.11ac, isn't included, but that's no surprise, and it's not really necessary for a tablet.

www.techradar.com

Sony Vaio Duo 13 - specs, prices and quick comparison to the Vaio Duo 11

Among their several new lines of Haswell ultrabooks, Sony launched the Vaio Duo 13 as well.

We’ve tested their previous Vaio Duo 11 a while ago and there were a couple of things I didn’t like about that particular laptop. The 13 inch version promises to fix many of them, while boosting a brand new Intel Haswell hardware platform and some nice Sony tweaks.

Still, the Sony Vaio Duo 13 is among the first Haswell ultrabooks you will be able to buy, hitting the sores on June 9th. The first reviews for this unit are in and unlike the Vaio Duo 11, the 13 managed to score good marks. Those being said and given the features bundled by this machine, I believe the Duo 13 is among the most interesting new ultraboks of the moment.

You’ll see why below. For starters though, check out the list of specifications, so you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about here.

Sony Vaio Duo 13 specs sheet

Sony Vaio Duo 13
Screen13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, Triluminous
ProcessorIntel Haswell COre i5/i7
ChipsetIntel HM87
VideoIntel HD Graphics 4400 or 5000 (for Core i7 options)
Memory4-16 GB DDR3
Hard-disk128 to 512 GB SSDs (uncluding RAIDs)
ConnectivityWireless N, Bluetooth 4.0, WiDi, LTE
Ports2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, SD card-reader, HD webcam
Baterry10h+ battery
Operating systemWindows 8 Pro
Sizeunder 0.8 inch thick
Weightaround 2.9 pounds
Extrasslider, available in black and white

Alright, so there are several things you should notice from the specs. First, this ultrabook runs on Haswell hardware, and you’ll be able to choose between some i5 and i7 configurations, all with different graphics. The Intel Core i5-4200U processor is bundled with Intel 4400 graphics, which is basically a GT2 chip, as Chippy noticed here, so it shouldn’t be much faster than the Intel 4000 chip used on most Ivy Bridge ultrabooks. The Intel i7 option however will offer 5000 graphics, part of the new GT3 family, that promises twice the performances of the 4xxxs lines. We’ll see.

Then, you should notice that the Duo 13 is not a lot larger than the Duo 11 and only less than 0.1 pounds heavier, and that’s because the Duo 11 was quite beefy by itself (for an 11.6 inch machine), with thick bezels. That’s why the Duo 13 doesn’t feel a lot bigger and should be quite comfortable to use. Yes, it’s still a 13 inch machine and weighs about 2.9 pounds, so it doesn’t feel like an iPad or other tablets, but it’s not that bad either in tablet mode, especially if you want to have an all-in-one device.

Because that’s what the Sony Vaio Duo 13 is. An all-in-one mini laptop. You can use it as a tablet, or as a notebook. Sliding up the screen reveals a decent sized keyboard and a tiny touchpad. Yes, the Duo 13 is still a slider, and that means you can’t adjust the viewing angles, but for the average user that might not matter that much. And the sliding mechanism actually looks quite cool, plus was improved from the one on the Duo 11. It’s called the “Surf Slider mechanism” now and feels more solid, while works far smoother, based on my brief experience with this unit.

Sony Vaio Duo 13 – the sliding mechanism was improved

Then, there’s the screen. 1080p IPS touchscreen, so nothing fancy, but.. it bundles Sony’s Triluminous technology, which basically makes the colors pop out of the display. The panel is also very bright and offers good contrast and viewing angles, which were a must, given how you can’t adjust the screen’s inclination. But I for one do find this display a bit too over-saturated, too punchy for my liking. Think about the popping colors on the AMOLED screens of the Samsung Gaalxy S3/S4 phones, that’s basically what you’re getting here, and not everyone will enjoy that.

Another thing I noticed in the several reviews available already for the Vaio Duo 13 is the impressive battery life. I wasn’t happy with the Duo 11 on this front, and while it seems like the battery isn’t a lot larger on this 13 inch unit (we’re probably looking at a 50 Wh battery, given the size and weight of this machine), the laptop can easily go for 9-10 hours of average use, according to Engadget. Which, if it really proves to be true, is astonishing.

And there are some other things worth noticed:

  • the Sony Vaio Duo 13 comes with a set of dual-cameras, a 2 MPx one on the front, and another 8 MPx main shooter, capable of taking decently good pics and videos;
  • will be available in white and black, both versions offering a carbon-fiber body;
  • comes with a pen and digitizer integrated within the screen, so you can use it for taking notes, sketching and so on. And there are even two ways of attaching the pen to the tablet now, which were both missing on the Duo 11;
  • Sony does bundle the Duo 13 with what they call Active Sleep, which does sound a lot like Intel’s Connected Standby technology, that lets the laptop update while in sleep mode, so you’ll have all your emails and notifications updated when you’ll open your machine. Given how the laptop can not last for many days in sleep mode and resumes from sleep in about a second, that gives you little reasons to ever shut-down your device from now on.

Sony Vaio Duo 13 – digitizer and pen

Sony Vaio Duo 13 prices and availability

Like I mentioned in the beginning, the Sony Vaio Duo 13 will hit the stores on June 9th, 2013. The base version, with an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD starts at $1400.

You can also configure several other version of the Duo 13, the top option, with an Core i7-4650U, 8 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD, LTE and Windows Pro going for about 2700 USD.

All versions can be found slightly discounted though, as you’ll see from this post.

Sony Vaio Duo 13 vs Duo 11

There’s probably one reason why you’d buy the existing Duo 11 over the new Duo 13 right now: the price. I’d expect the 11 to drop in the next months, maybe to around $1000 or so, and since the 13 starts at $1400, you might want to save some money and buy the smaller version.

Smaller is not really the right word here though, as the two are pretty much the same size and weight, despite the new model sporting a larger screen. And then there are plenty of improvements on the 13: faster hardware, longer battery life, better screen, better Sliding mechanism, roomier keyboard and a trackpad and so on.

Of course, if Sony decided to update the Vaio Duo 11 somewhere down the line and make a more compact option, then all these words in this chapter won’t have ground anymore. But until then, get the Vaio Duo 13 over the 11, it’s clearly the better option.

Wrap up – should I buy the Vaio Duo 13?

I’ll hold off on answering this until a get to play with the Vaio Duo 13 for a bit longer, hopefully in a week or two. But, don’t be hasty if you can, this is just one of the first Haswell ultrabooks to hit the stores, many more will follow by the end of the summer. And I’m pretty sure most of them will be cheaper than this Sony.

Still, if you want a new ultrabook right now, don’t mind paying the premium price and need some of the fancy features offered by the Vaio Duo 13, like the pen/digitizer, the LTE support or the convertible form factor, you won’t go wrong with this one. You should still check out my list of the best ultrabooks of the moment and my list of top hybrid ultrabooks, you might find some very interesting options in there as well.

Sony Vaio Duo 13 – still a slider-, but definitely an improved one

Those being said, I hope to have a detailed review for the Duo 13 very soon. In the meantime, let me know what do you think about this laptop, what you like about it and what you wish Sony would have done better.

www.ultrabookreview.com


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