Gadgetslab: Sony Vaio Duo


As part of our great migration to our online space, here’s a nice Gadgetslab from Sony, first published in 2013. Enjoy!


  • Screen Size:11.6-inch IPS display
  • Memory:4GB of DDR3 memory
  • CPUand chipset:IntelCorei5·3317U @  1.7GHz
  • Physical Dimensions: 320x199x18mm


  • Unique Surf-Slider design
  • Part tablet,part ultrabook
  • Excellent performance



  • Keys are a littlesmall
  • Orientation issues
  • There is no place to dock the stylus
  • on the device


The Sony VAIO Duo 11 does a good job of performing both tablet and ultrabook duties in a small,compact device.


With the general release of Windows 8,Microsoft’s partners have been experimenting with the concept of marrying a touchscreen with a notebook. Some have gone the easy route and have basically Integrated the touchscreen Into the display of a notebook. Others have gone off the deep end by utilizing two displays on both sides of the notebook’s lid. Sony’s VAIO Duo 11 goes down a different route by trying to merge the utility of a notebook with the portability of a tablet, and the results are, mostly, positive.

The Sony VAIO Duo 11is a hybrid device-when fully closed, it acts like an lintel-based Windows 8 tablet. In tablet mode, the first thing you’re going to notice is the device’s somewhat portly 18-milimeter overall thickness and its 11.6-inch IPS display. Unlike other tablets, the Duo 11 has a multitude of ports, including of two USB 3.0 ports, SD card slot, D-sub port, full-size HDMI port and an Ethernet port. When you turn the Duo 11over,you’ll see a screen orientation lock, a Sony Assist button and volume controls.

Slide it up, and the Duo 11 reveals a compact QWERTY keyboard, along with a TrackPoint device that takes the place of a traditional trackpad. While the keys are understandably compact to fit within the boundaries of a 320x199x18-milimeter frame, they are still surprisingly comfortable to type on, even with digits that are larger than normal. The keys have adequate travel and are backlit for easier typing when in low light. The VAIO Duo 11 comes with a separate stylus, which does not have a dock on the device. That means you will have to stuff it in your bag alongside your other stuff, thus increasing the risk of you losing it.

While the size of the Duo 11’s display is just 11.6 inches, the screen resolution is cranked up to 1920×1080 pixels for razor-sharp text and graphics. The display is an IPS deal, for good visibility from different angles. Possibly the only complaint we have with the display is that it suffers from a bit of glare.

Even though the Duo 11looks and feels like a tablet, its specifications reveal that it’s a notebook at heart.

The Duo 11 packs a third-generation Intel Core i5·3317U processor chugging along at 1.7GHz,along with 4GB of DDR3 memory. Intel’s built-in HD Graphics 4000 is enough for most daily tasks, though we wouldn’t recommend using the Duo 11 to play hardcore PC games. The Duo 11 uses a 128GB SSD drive for storage.

Because of Windows 8,we feel quite at home with the device’s dual notebook/tablet role. The touchscreen is pleasant to use, and is extremely responsive. Windows 8 still takes some getting used to, but for the most part, the OS does a great job at transitioning from tablet to notebook mode through the Ul and desktop app.

Try as we might, we just couldn’t keep the VAIO Duo 11 down. The device performed brilliantly during our tests, and never seemed to slow down or become unresponsive, even with apps running in both the desktop and Windows 8 Ul. Battery life was a bit unimpressive at just 5

hours of straight use-good enough for a notebook but unacceptable for a tablet. There were also times that the orientation of the device was a bit weird, and would not go back to normal after switching to portrait mode while being carried from place to place. The sliding mechanism, while sturdy enough, looked a bit flimsy. We hope it takes more than a solid knock to damage the Duo 11,as it is not exactly a cheap device.

The Sony VAIO Duo 11 is an excellent example of what a hybrid device should be. While it’s plagued by battery life unfit for a tablet, it’s still able to accomplish its core function as a Windows 8 Ultrabook.


First Published in Gadgets Magazine February 2013

Words by John Nieves