Editorial Review

Hands on with the Sony Vaio Duo 11 at IFA

Earlier today Sony introduced the Vaio Duo 11, a laptop/tablet hybrid with Windows 8 that's made to give you the best of simply all worlds. 

When collapsed the Vaio Duo 11 seems just like any regular 11" Windows 8 tablet but it actually has a lot more. Sony's picked a very high quality 1920x1080-panel with excellent viewing angles (so probably IPS) for the display. The result is an extremely crisp image with deep contrast and good brightness.

In contrary to what was believed to be the case (due to the leaked documents), Sony has decided to use a very good Wacom pressure sensitive digitizer for the stylus. I've tried one of the apps to take notes that came with it and it worked remarkably well. Since you could just rest your hand on the display as you would with a real paper notebook writing feels incredibly natural. The digitizer reacts almost instantly and the pressure sensitivity makes it look incredibly real. The stylus has two buttons, one of which is used to switch between input modes.

I've also tried OneNote 2010 on the hybrid and it worked pretty well. With all the new improvements for touch in Office 2013, the next version of OneNote should work perfectly without any issues. While we're talking software, the whole system seemed to be relatively bloatware-free.

When using it in the extended mode with keyboard things change pretty drastically. Having had the chance to properly play with Windows 8 I sort of expect that if you have a touch screen available you will probably just use it. The keyboard on this laptop only really functions as a pure text input device, similar to using an external keyboard for the iPad. Because of the switching mechanism the keyboard had to be placed as low as possible on the base, removing any possible room for a touch pad. To counter the complete lack of a mouse Sony included an optical track-point in the center of the keyboard, but since it doesn't react very well I suspect not many people will be using it.

The keys on the keyboard itself are on the small side, but they type quite comfortably. If you're used to a chiclet keyboard you won't have a hard time with this one. As it should be in this day and age the keyboard has a backlight that switches itself on when needed (using an ambient light sensor).

The switching mechanism itself seems to be quite sturdy and the whole product felt quite solid in any situation. On the inside the device is powered by a regular Intel Core i5, making you able to run all non-Modern software you want/need. Because of the impressive specifications, sturdy body and hybrid mechanism the weight of the device is quite a bit above what you're used to for a tablet, but holding it with one hand should still be possible without getting uncomfortable too soon. On the connectivity side you have a bunch of USB3 ports, HDMI and good old VGA for those company projectors that only have VGA.

My overall opinion of this product is quite positive. It'll probably cost quite a bit of money, but for that price you get one of the most versatile and high-quality products you'll be able to get with Windows 8 (other than Microsoft's own Surface device). In fact, while I wasn't a fan of Windows 8 before these Windows 8-optimized products made me realize that it really isn't all that bad, especially not on a tablet.

Keep your eyes on our front page for the next few days as we'll be posting more hands-on experiences and pictures straight from IFA, including Samsung's new ATIV hybrid tablets and Sony's 20" tablet prototype.

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18 Comments

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this looks very aged in the pics... my daughter has an old Toshiba with centrino in it that looks very similar to this, plus the stylus?!?... hehe i know it could be useful for some but NOT for most, I too will be holding out for the surface as well.

rippleman said,
this looks very aged in the pics... my daughter has an old Toshiba with centrino in it that looks very similar to this, plus the stylus?!?... hehe i know it could be useful for some but NOT for most, I too will be holding out for the surface as well.

I actually like having a stylus. Much better when writing for long periods. I'm definitely looking forward to this class of devices, so I can have the best ways to do everything and not limited to just laptop/tablet/PDA devices. I'm looking forward to Surface, also, but I've either loved or hated some of Microsoft hardware, so we'll see . . .

Looks ugly compare to Saumsung Ativ Smart PC Pro. =D Too bad that the Ativ is made out of cheap plastic compare to the Android counterpart which is made out of aluminum. Boohoo Samsung.

Princess Chica Ami said,
Looks ugly compare to Saumsung Ativ Smart PC Pro. =D Too bad that the Ativ is made out of cheap plastic compare to the Android counterpart which is made out of aluminum. Boohoo Samsung.

Yeah. Shiny black isn't nice any more, but I guess it's Sony's hallmark. Everything they make (more or less) is black and monolithic and glossy. Also the Sony logo looks ugly printed on in white on the front. Engrave it on the back instead or something.

Looks like an awesome product.

I'll be looking for an hybrid windows 8 pro device later this year or early next year. This is definately a product i'll consider.

S3P€hR said,
best forfactor I have ever seen. very nice. now I have to decide to get this or surface pro/

You mean form factor?

ChuckFinley said,
Although this comment did confuse me lol.... "regular Intel Core i5, making you able to run all non-Modern software you want/need"

As opposed to the ARM, which can only run Modern apps, for the most part, excluding Office.

The optical track-point is a bit of a shame, but most people I see with notebooks tend to use an external mouse rather than the trackpad anyway. Anyone using it in a more tablet-like way probably won't care.

IronChef75 said,
The optical track-point is a bit of a shame, but most people I see with notebooks tend to use an external mouse rather than the trackpad anyway. Anyone using it in a more tablet-like way probably won't care.

The keyboard is so close to the screen that you could probably just touch it if it were a quick action.

IronChef75 said,
The optical track-point is a bit of a shame, but most people I see with notebooks tend to use an external mouse rather than the trackpad anyway. Anyone using it in a more tablet-like way probably won't care.

for RT interface there is touch and for desktop there is a pen. only problem is lack of additional buttons on pen to fully replace mouse functionality. for this reason I bought compatible pen for my old tablet PC, which had 2 buttons and eraser tip, and also double the pressure sensitivity of default pen.