Sony Vaio Duo 11 hands on: A hybrid that’s all gimmick, no game

Check out our full review of the Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop.

With the success of Asus’s Transformer tablets and Microsoft requiring touchscreens on new Windows 8 PCs, every laptop and tablet manufacturer is going crazy trying to reinvent the wheel. Regular tablets and regular laptops are too boring in this Windows 8 universe. There are at least two dozen Windows 8 devices launching at the end of October. To get attention, you need a gimmick. Sony’s big idea, like Toshiba’s, is a tablet with a slide out, and up, keyboard. Sony is calling the Vaio Duo 11 a “slider hybrid.” It has the touch capabilities you’d find in a tablet like the iPad, but runs on a processor and other hardware you’d find in a traditional Windows laptop. Sony hopes the Duo 11 will hit a sweet spot and be a best of both worlds scenario. I’m not as optimistic.

A high price for buggy hardware

I love the idea of a slide-out keyboard, and am a fan of Toshiba’s U925t (though I’m not a fan of its name), but Sony’s design did not impress me. The Duo 11 will start at $1,100, a high price for a Windows PC these days, so for that price, I kind of expected everything to work fairly well. Unfortunately, like some other recent Sony products, the big problems I had were manufacturing and design issues.

Figuring out how to open the Vaio Duo 11 was my first challenge. Though it slides out, you cannot just slide the screen forward (and up). Instead,  you must pry the back apart. Unlike a MacBook, getting the Vaio to open is reminiscent of prying open a bear trap. I needed both hands. Once slide out, the screen sits at 1 unadjustable angle. It didn’t bother me much, but I missed the ability to adjust the angle of my screen. More of a problem was how floaty the screen was. It doesn’t snap into place very well, and often just kind of hovers near your keyboard. One of the rubber feet on the unit I was using also came off. Hopefully that’s not a common problem.

sony vaio duo 11 hands on  homescreen

The other annoying issue I had was that if the screen happens to be oriented upside down or vertically when you slide out the screen (which happens since this is also a tablet), it will not auto correct itself. You can get the screen to face upward if you lift the entire screen (and device) toward you, but in its default resting position, it will not auto right itself. I encountered this problem multiple times in my few minutes with the Duo 11. It’s hard to believe no one at Sony has discovered and fixed the issue. Perhaps it’s a Windows 8 problem? Either way, it’s not wise to make a device that doesn’t know up from down.

Finally, at 2.87 pounds, the Duo 11 was a little too heavy to effectively use as a tablet. It’s hard to complain too much about this since it doesn’t have to be used as a tablet, but Sony is really touting its flexibility. Minor gripe.

It does work, so that’s something

Though its more tablet now than laptop, there is still good in the Duo 11. Windows 8 ran quite smoothly on the hybrid and I had no issues with the 11.6-inch touchscreen or the keyboard. Sony has actually included one of those old keyboard nubs you’d find in Lenovo computers so you can have a mouse pointer without a hassle. 

The Duo 11 runs on a 3rd-generation Intel Core i3 processor, has a full 1080p screen, comes with a 128GB solid-state drive (flash storage), has 4GB of RAM, does not have an optical drive. Unfortunately, it does only get about 4 hours and 45 minutes of battery life, according to Sony, which is less than many thin laptops these days, which can often achieve 7 hours before a charge.

Overall, I didn’t walk away impressed in my first encounter with Sony’s new convertible laptop. There are a lot of solid Windows 8 devices coming out. I’m not sure this is one of them.

(*Note: In the video above, I accidentally say that the Duo 11 has a 12.5-inch screen. It’s screen is 11.6 inches diagonally.)


Brace yourself. Sony’s PlayStation 5 is going to be expensive

How much will Sony's PlayStation 5 cost? Official pricing will stay under wraps for months, but early details provide enough information to make a guess. Our estimate suggests the price will be higher than fans expect to pay.

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for April 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for April 2018.

Samsung says the Galaxy Fold needs more improvements before it's released

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.

Amazon strikes $100 off the price of Microsoft Surface Go tablets

If you've been eyeing Microsoft's Surface Go for its compact size and portability, now may be a great time to buy the tablet. Amazon has a $100 discount on the Surface Go, bringing the price of this slate down to just under $400.

AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

The sequel to AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs is slated for a 2020 release and when it arrives, could leverage the new Zen 3 architecture to deliver impressive gains to performance and power efficiency.

The iPhone’s Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts could land on Macs this year

For its desktop computers, it appears that Apple may continue to draw from the iPhone for inspiration. iOS 12 features, like Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts, are believed to be making their way to MacOS this year at WWDC in June.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Dell slashes prices of XPS 13 and Alienware 17 laptops in latest promo

Dell's latest promotion will score you big savings on the XPS 13 or the Alienware 17. The stylish XPS 13's discount is for $430, and only the rose gold model is on sale, while gamers who choose the Alienware 17 will save $860.

Lenovo’s Yoga C930 sale drops a $650 discount on its 2TB SSD laptop

Lenovo is offering one of its 2-in-1 laptops at a $650 discount. This Lenovo Yoga C930 laptop comes with a 2TB solid-state drive, a digital pen, a fingerprint reader, and a Dolby Atmos sound bar.

You won't want to miss these deals on some of the best laptops around

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we have you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.

These business machines can rival any consumer laptop in style and function

These laptops have the reliability, performance, and battery life you need whether you're at your desk or flying across the country for a meeting, letting you to revel in a function-first approach.

Online passwords: Research confirms millions of people are using 123456

According to recent analysis of data caught up in cyber attacks, millions of people are continuing to use super-simple passwords, with 123456 topping the list of easy-to-crack codes.

Microsoft deal takes up to $400 off select Surface Book 2 laptops

Microsoft is running a promotion for the Surface Book 2, taking as much as $400 off the price of the laptop at the Microsoft Store. The promotion applies to select 13.5- or 15-inch configurations of the convertible laptop.