The Bottom Line
Mar 7 2013 - Sony's VAIO Duo may be the lightest and smallest of the current generation of hybrid laptops but its high price and number of problems make it a less than ideal choice. Sony certainly gave it a great display and some very fast storage but this is hampered by a hinge design that makes it very hard to use as a laptop both from the screen perspective and the keyboard. Add to this battery life that is below the competition and a price that is above them and it certainly is a less attractive option.
- Lightest Of Current Hybrids
- Great High Resolution Touch Display
- Fast Storage Performance
- Hinge Limits Screen Pisitioning in Laptop Mode
- Smaller Keyboard and Pointing Device Make Them Difficult To Use
- Below Average Battery Life
- Intel Core i5-3337U Dual Core Processor
- 6GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 11.6" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.6" x 7.8" x .71" @ 2.87 lbs
- Windows 8, Office Starter, Kaspersky Internet Security
Review - Sony VAIO Duo SVD11223CXB
Mar 7 2013 - Sony's VAIO Duo hybrid laptop is one of the smallest and lightest among the bunch. Even at its .71-inch thickness and under three pound weight, it still feels very awkward as a tablet compared to the dedicated Microsoft Surface Pro. Of course most people looking to get a hybrid are likely to want to use it mostly as a laptop while the tablet capabilities are going to be secondary.
Powering the Sony VAIO Duo is an Intel Core i5-3337U dual core processor. This is a bit more powerful than the i5-3317U that is found in most ultrabooks but in the average task, users won't see much difference. A bigger difference comes from the 6GB of DDR3 memory compared to the average 4GB in many competing system. This gives it a bit smoother operation when multitasking of running some more demanding applications like video and graphics.
Storage for the Sony VAIO Duo is fairly typical of a high end ultrabook system. It is based around a 128GB solid state drive. This offers it some incredibly fast boot times that is just over ten seconds and just as quick application load times. The downside of course is limited storage space for applications, data and media files. To make up for this, Sony includes two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external drives. Sony even offers full size SD card slot on its tablet for use with the most common form of flash media cards. There is no optical drive like most laptops in this size range.
With its sliding design, the VAIO Duo display is always exposed. Because of this, they use Gorilla Glass to protect it. The 11.6-inch display under the glass offers a surprising high 1920x1080 native resolution which is capable of full 1080p high definition video playback. The one downside is that the sliding hinge does not allow adjustment of the angle for the screen which can make battling glare a problem. At least it uses IPS panel technology to keep brightness high, colors rich and wide viewing angles. Since this is a touchscreen with Windows 8 with such high resolution, there are issues at times with small sized items on the display that are difficult to touch with the stylus or one's finger. The graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the processor which is fine for most of the tasks it will be used for but limits 3D performance and acceleration for non-3d programs only to Quick Sync compatible applications.
When the VAIO Duo is setup in its laptop mode with the screen propped up, the keyboard takes up the remaining space which is admittedly limited due to the large sliding hinge. The keys are certainly smaller than your typical ultrabook in this size range but at least they space the keys well so accidental typos are limited. There is no trackpad on the system as there is no room for one. Instead it uses a small pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard with right and left buttons just below the keyboard space bar where a trackpad would traditionally go. It certainly provides more accurate pointing on such a high definition screen than touching it with finger or stylus but it still has some accuracy problems.
Sony includes a nearly 5000mAh battery with the VAIO Duo system. In digital video playback testing, it was able to run for four and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. This puts it at the lower end of the convertible laptops which tend to have less battery than non-touchscreen ultrabooks. The Lenovo Yoga 13 while much larger offers nearly an hour more while the traditional styled Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Retina can achieve over six hours in the same tests.
Priced at $1300, the Sony VAIO Duo is on the upper end for the new batch of hybrid Windows 8 laptops. Its primary competition comes from the Dell XPS 12 and the Toshiba Satellite U925t which are fairly similar in size but both more affordable. Toshiba's Satellite u925t uses a similar slider design but offers adjustable angles for its screen but is much heavier and not quite as sturdy. Dell's uses a rotating screen design that offers a better keyboard but is a good one pound heavier. In addition, there is the Lenovo Yoga 13 which while larger offers better better life and a much better laptop experience and is also more affordable.