The Transformers (Part 1) : Sony Vaio Duo 11

3/6/2013 9:26:57 AM

Windows 8 ushers in convertibles and hybrids but are they really worth the money?

We now have a new breed of devices to choose from, the Windows 8 convertibles and hybrids. With Microsoft’s new operating system being optimized for touch, these devices try and bring the touchscreen closer to the user.

So there are hybrids, which are essentially tablets that have extra keyboards, or convertibles that can transform themselves from Ultrabooks to tablets.

Windows 8 ushers in convertibles and hybrids but are they really worth the money?

Windows 8 ushers in convertibles and hybrids but are they really worth the money?

With pricing being what it is, most of these devices will continue to be niche products for some months to come. The hybrids are cheaper, but they are also Intel Atom-based devices which might not be able to perform many high-end tasks. However, these are more portable and handy, making them the ideal device for those who will need a tablet that can do a bit more.

The Ultrabook convertibles, on the other hand, will be able to do most tasks that you assign to it. But they are costly and a bit too heavy and large to use as proper tablets. They should be preferred by people who essentially need an Ultrabook, but would like to have the ease-of-use of a tablet when required.

However, in the New Year you will see a lot of conversation revolving around the convertible and hybrids, which will be the showcase devices for Windows 8. At least for now, this form factor is also unique to this OS as you don’t have hybrids and convertibles in OS X or Android, except for maybe the Asus Transformer series.

But this is just the beginning, even as you see touch becoming an essential feature in computers in coming months you will also see these convertibles and hybrids evolving in design, and, hopefully, becoming cheaper. They are being projected as the ideal solution for individuals who are now dependent on two or more devices for their daily fix. So, the suggestion is to choose a convertible or hybrid over carting around both a laptop and tablet. No doubt, there will be takers for this concept.

the Asus Transformer

The Asus Transformer

We can see a lot of design innovation taking place in the segment - there are said to be around a hundred new designs in various stages of production. There are also attempts to bring the prices down by making touchscreens cheaper. Intel, meanwhile, is promising all-day power with its new fourth generation Core processors. They are also expected to make the hybrids more enterprise-friendly with added power and laptop-like security features.

The advent of the convertibles don’t mean the traditional tablet or laptop is dead on the Windows platform. In fact, the traditional devices will continue to be made and sold. They will co-exist with the new premium segment for some time. The older devices will need to bring in touch into their devices though. Thankfully, touchscreens have already become affordable with devices like the Asus Vivobook F202E. For the budget conscious, you will see track-pads and mouse becoming touch enabled so that Windows 8 commands can be executed even if you don’t have a touchscreen. This will be crucial, for using Windows 8 without any form of touch to exploit the full potential of the OS could be quite frustrating.

The fifty-fifty

Sony Vaio Duo 11

·         Price: $1,660

·         Specs: Windows 8, 11.6-inch Full HD touchscreen, Intel Core i5-3317U, 6GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel HD graphics 4000, 12.60” (W) .71” (H) 7.84" (D), 1.3kg

Sony claims its Vaio Duo 11 is the easiest Ultrabook convertible to use with a single motion to do the actual conversion. So we thought this was the first thing we should test with the Duo 11. Yes, it is quite easy to pull the display up to reveal the keyboard in one simple motion. But, no, you cannot do it with one hand.

Sony Vaio Duo 11

Sony Vaio Duo 11

The Duo 11 is a screen-first kind of design and you can use it as a tablet if you are comfortable with the weight. But then all Ultrabook convertibles make heavy tablets. At the top of the display is a small groove, pulling on which makes the screen stand up, revealing a neat little keyboard below.

But it is not a full-size keyboard and there is a no place to rest your wrists while typing. So you will have to adjust a bit while using it. However, you will get used to it in a few hours and this is a good keyboard to use, if you will need to use it.

This design also shows that track-pads are becoming redundant in a touchscreen world. In fact, even the track-point, which has been nestled between the keys, is unnecessary with an 11.6-inch touchscreen just in front of you. There are also three keys below that work like the keys on a mouse.

The touchscreen is very responsive and the pictures are really crisp, that is because this is a 1080p FuII HD display. The sound quality is also very good, especially when you are using the tablet. Thai is because he speakers are facing down and are placed Belo the keyboard. Similarly, keep the orientation lock o when using the device as an Ultrabook, for the smallest movement flips the screen over.

Like all Ultrabooks, the Duo 11 too runs 3rd generation Intel Core i5 processor and won’t have any trouble munching through even heavy tasks. It also starts p in a jiffy, but we have come to expect that from uItrabooks. While other convertibles are for those who will use the Ultrabooks pan more, the Duo 11 is good in both modes and can be suggested for those who will have a substantial tablet use as well. Being a Vaio, there is an Assist button, but ii is sort of hidden under the front edge near the volume buttons.

Son is pitching this as an enterprise-ready device a d so there are Iwo USB drives, a card reader, as we I as HDMI and VGA ports. We also loved the fact that the Ethernet port and power jacks are behind, and this will add to its usability as a desktop device. Overall, this a good buy for people who ‘need power in their convertible, which they will use equally as a tablet and an ultrabook.

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