Home Icon
sony-vaio-duo-11-review-01

Hybrid hero: Sony’s VAIO Duo 11 reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 11:29 am 23/04/2013

Computers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and this year, we’ve certainly seen some interesting blends of the computer and tablet, pushing the hybrid to new levels of neat design. Sony’s Duo 11 makes the tablet and notebook into one device too, but it might well be one of the nicest hybrid designs yet.

Features

With Windows 8’s reliance on touch, every manufacturer is trying something a little different, taking some creative control and putting a special spin on what it thinks a touchscreen laptop should be like.

In Sony’s VAIO Duo 11, the tablet and laptop have been merged, and in a way we haven’t really seen before on a laptop before.

Here, the 11.6 inch Full HD (1920×1080) touchscreen sits facing up like it does on any tablet, but when you pull up on the back of the screen, a hinge activates at the back and pushes the screen up, with a stand holding it place at an angle against the keyboard underneath. It’s a hybrid laptop that you can use as either a tablet or a laptop in pretty much any place, and we’re keen to see it in action.

So what makes it tick?

In this machine, Sony has thrown in an Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 1.7GHz, 4GB RAM, Intel HD 4000 graphics, and a 128GB solid-state drive for your files. Windows 8 is the operating system of choice, and it’s running in 64-bit mode here.

Sony has left plenty of ports for you to use and add things, including two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI, a single VGA, a combination memory card slot capable of reading both Sony’s own MemoryStick Duo format and the more popular SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, 3.5mm headset jack, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

With that last one, you can of course use wired networking, but there’s some wireless goodness in there too, with 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and support for Near-Field Communication (NFC).

The keyboard also comes with a tiny optical trackpad embedded in the centre, with three clickable buttons underneath the spacebar on the keyboard.

A two megapixel webcam capable of Full HD video sits above the screen.

A double-sided stylus has been included in the package too, adding to the input devices, so you can draw things using a fine-tipped pen at the front or use the flat-backed end of the stylus as an on-screen mouse.

Performance

Can Sony shake up the tablet space with its hybrid? That’s the question being asked with the Duo 11, Sony’s first attempt at a device that blends the touch-friendly usability of a tablet with the innards and keyboard action of a proper laptop computer.

Pick up the Duo and you’ll realise that you’re holding a completely different style of laptop, even a different style of tablet, than you’ve likely ever tried.

Longer than the average 9 to 10 inch tablets and certainly heavier, it carries a design that brings it closer to the laptop than a tablet. The edges aren’t softened or simple, and as you grip every side, your fingers will feel a port or button of some kind.

There sure are a lot of ports here, so much that it’s closer to a high grade laptop than “just another tablet,” and it even manages to come with a build quality closer to that of the well-crafted notebook computer.

As such, the build quality of this machine is excellent, with Sony betting on magnesium-alloy for the main construction material. The gun-metal coloured alloy looks excellent and very professional, even if the connectivity options along the side kill the minimalist look the front is going for, and a resistive matt black finish on the bottom helps to make it difficult to let go of.

A power button on the right side of the Duo will switch this on, and you can go ahead and use this hybrid machine without any physical buttons, although the volume and orientation lock buttons on the bottom will definitely be helpful.

Pages: 1 2 3

Price (RRP)

$1499 starting price

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Cool concept; Works excellently on public transport and in small spaces due to its design; Fantastic screen; Included stylus is a neat idea; Standby life is great;

Product Cons

Positioning of buttons on the bottom isn't good; Keyboard is small and feels cramped; Optical touchpad seems like a waste of time; Mediocre battery life;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

Latest reviews

  • Review: Jura Impressa F9

    Getting good coffee with personality out in your own home can need some complicated contraptions, but what if you could get seriously good coffee without needing to buy into…
  • AppMonday: Pac-man 256

    Endless runner games like “Temple Run” and “Flappy Bird” are certainly addictive, but what happens when you mix them with the old school retrolicious charm of 80s arcade gaming?
  • Review: Asus ZenBook UX305

    Ever since Apple rolled out the MacBook Air, companies have been trying to do their best at making something close, and in the UX305, Asus might finally have nailed…
  • Samsung’s best phone yet: the Galaxy Note 5 reviewed

    Samsung announced two big phones in August, with a phablet for every purpose: style and substance. We’ve done style, so let’s find out what Samsung’s answer to substance is…
  • Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

    Don’t need the crème de la crème when it comes to your eReading experience? Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite does it with all the clarity of its Voyage sibling, but is…
  • AppMonday: Macronos

    Sonos owners are used to the constant evolution that is the Sonos app, but an app made exclusively for Android makes Sonos a little more playful with a one-touch…
  • Bigger, again: Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ reviewed

    Samsung’s next big thing is bigger, as the S6 Edge arrives with a plus-sized sibling, but is it more than just a big brother?
  • Review: Astell & Kern AK Jr

    You might think that media players are dead now that the smartphone has taken over, but if you like your audio high quality with support for 24-bit, there’s still…
  • AppMonday: Pixl

    Tired of the same old same old selfies and snapshots? Pixl changes the formula slightly by pixelating your images and bringing squares, triangles, half circles, and more.
  • Review: Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

    Sony’s phones frequently dabble in water proofing, but it’s usually only in the high-end. What happens when Sony brings water resistance to the mid-range?

“How do you stop yourself from being caught out by these scam artists?”

Read More

Tell us…

Which smartwatch are you interested in buying?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

“There’s certainly no doubt that you can find a bargain, but like always, you get what you pay for.”

Read More