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Hands on: Sony Vaio Fit 11A

The Fit 11A may be the best convertible from Sony thus far, but we’re not sure it’s good enough to beat Lenovo’s Yoga 2.

Sony was one of the first companies to jump on board the convertible PC bandwagon, but you wouldn’t know it from the press surrounding it. That’s because its early attempts were, to be frank, pretty bad. We gave the Sony Vaio Duo 11, one of the early sliding convertibles, a two out of five stars, and later efforts didn’t fare much better.

The company is getting is act together, however, with the new Fit 11A. This is a new, smaller entry in the “flip” line of Sony systems, all of which feature a unique display hinge that can recline the display over the keyboard for tablet use or flip it backwards and hold it in a convenient position for touch-only lap or desk use.

Sony Fit screen angle side

Maneuvering the hinge feels a bit unwieldy on larger models, but the smaller, lighter Fit 11A is easier to handle. Sony’s design provides many of the advantages of Lenovo’s Yoga, but with the added benefit of covering the keyboard during tablet use. Anyone who intends to use their convertible PC as a tablet just as often as a laptop may find the Fit 11A a better choice.

We also like the look of the “Triluminos” 1080p display, which has a sharp, colorful picture and was bright enough to be usable under the glare of the show room’s lights. Responses to changes in orientation were quick, too, which made converting from one mode to another a seamless experience.

The Fit 11A does have a few issues, however, and most of them are related to the hinge. While it does its job well, the hinge is more complex than those used by Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 2 or the Dell XPS 12. This means weight comes to a 2.82 pounds, a bit hefty for an 11-inch system, and the chassis is quite thick. Yet that thickness doesn’t translate to knockout performance; an Intel Pentium processor, rather than an Intel Core, lurks inside.

We also had some reservations about the keyboard. The layout is fine and almost every millimeter of available space is used, but individual key caps are small and can throw off speedy touch-typists.

Aesthetically, the Fit 11A looks good on its own, but the show floor proved the brushed metal exterior is quite the fingerprint magnet. Worse, smudges seemed to persist despite tireless buffing and scrubbing by Sony’s booth workers. There’s something about the exterior metal that absorbs, rather than resists, greasy palms.

Sony plans to start selling this system in February for $799. That’s not bad, but Lenovo will be selling its new 11-inch Yoga 2 for $529, albeit with a less impressive display. We think a lot of buyers will opt for the less expensive Lenovo, but the Fit will appeal to people who can’t stand to have the keyboard hanging out or want an excellent display.

Highs

  • Versatile display hinge
  • Attractive and bright 1080p display

Lows

  • A bit bulky for its display size
  • Keyboard can be hard to use