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back to article Review: Sony Vaio Duo 11 Ultrabook

The other day, a friend sent me a Picasa link to photos he'd taken at a recent vintage motorcycle show. It was a wide ranging display of classic engineering imagination put to work to power a rider on two wheels. Similarly, it’s those variations on a theme that Windows 8 has spurred among mainstream computer makers, as they all …

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Meh

I played with one...

...and wasn't that impressed. Just seemed cheap and fiddly, and the various workflows I tried simply didn't "gel". Some issues were hardware based, some were win8 based. The track button I hated. The screen angle was ok for me, but the whole process of switching from tablet to laptop was fiddly and cumbersome, and not to mention surprisingly hard - there was a lot of resistance in the motion on this showroom model.

Maybe gen 2 will be better.

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Anonymous Coward

Boo It's a Sony

Never buy a Sony. They lock down driver updates so you can't get the manufacturers generic driver and block record what u hear.

Oh and for good measure they try and stitch you up for "free win 7" update which costs £25 P&P

Fuck off Sony.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Boo It's a Sony

And they fucked my dog! Bastards!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Boo It's a Sony

"And they fucked my dog! Bastards!"

Thank you for that intelligent insight into Sony's after sales policy.

100 million sperm and you had to make it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Boo It's a Sony

Mine was just as intelligent as the post I was replying to, and was a lot clearer than your "100 million sperm and you had to make it". What are you trying to say?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Boo It's a Sony

"100 million sperm and you had to make it". What are you trying to say?

QED

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Boo It's a Sony

communication not your strong point.....?

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This post has been deleted by its author

JDX
Gold badge

Price?

No mention I could see in the article.

I started off being cautiously optimistic this could be a cool device but it just ended up sounding shit, not something that should be sporting the Vaio brand at all.

Is the crap design to distract you from W8's own faults? ;)

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Silver badge

Does it come with any freebies?

Like its own rootkit?

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Didn't Asus do something similar a while back?

The was a whole bunch of gawping at the Transformer Prime but I vaguely recall something about an Asus Slider as well that worked in pretty much the same way as this Sony one.

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Bronze badge

Q: What "serious work" can you do on a plane/train?

And if it is more than "reading mail / reviewing texts" than you likely have booked a seat with fold out table or middle table (train) so you can use a notebook. In all other cases switch to tablet mode and use the pen and handwritting recognition

Q: Do people really "lounge around and watch movies" on a tablet?

In the situations I do this I typically use a TV screen. And this unit has more than one way to connect to those if one stays in a hotel

Q: Why is everyone "ohhh I loose the stylus" when they are prefectly capabel of keeping track of ballpoint pens?

Price starts at 1200€ here in germany for the base i3 / 8GB / 128 unit. A realistic i5 / 8GB / Win8Pro / Sheet Battery unit is 1550€

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eh?

>Q: Why is everyone "ohhh I loose the stylus" when they are prefectly capabel of keeping track of ballpoint pens?

speak for yourself - I can never find a pen when I need one.

at least I can then just buy one for 10p though....

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Meh

Astroturf much?

So to add to "you're holding it wrong" we now have "you booked the wrong seat"?

It's not that no-one loses ballpoints, it's that no one cares when they lose a 20p ballpoint. A 50 quid stylus is, unsurprisingly, a little different.

And yes, people do lounge around and watch stuff on tablets. In my experience it's the main things they're used for.

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Anonymous Coward

"In the situations I do this I typically use a TV screen. And this unit has more than one way to connect to those if one stays in a hotel"

If the hotel TV has an option of turning on the other input... plus you have to carry round extra cables, no chance of DLNA or similar in a hotel..

.

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DJO
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Boffin

silly question

Q: Why is everyone "ohhh I loose the stylus" when they are prefectly capabel of keeping track of ballpoint pens?

Oh come on, we all know the reason for this

The Law of retaining useless items:

The probability of losing an item is inversely proportional to the items cost or utility.

So biros - never lose, Mont Blanc pens and pricy styli last about 30 seconds before being lost

Crappy-phone is never lost, super-feature-phone lasts less than a week.

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Bronze badge

Granted on the "you may not connect". Last few hotels allowed that.

As for cables: this is a "notebook bag" sized unit so the extra HDMI cable would not be a problem.

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Bronze badge

Re: Astroturf much?

Yawn. Looked at the Sony, basically a fine unit. Found out it is NTrig => End of Interest, don't like the battery powered stylus and it's history of contact problems. Field stripping my "tool of trade" was fun back in the 1980s when it was "beat the Sarge, get half a day off" but not in the conference room

As for "book the wrong seat": Yes, if you plan to do serious work "on the move" and NOT book a useable seat (at least german ICE have them) you did something wrong.

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Re: Astroturf much?

Oh and: People use cheap Android and not so cheap iOS units for media consumption. This is a 1000+€ convertible, not one of those media tablets

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Re: eh?

The pen for my various tablets is the one thing I have never lost in the 10+ years I use those things. Maybe due to the "no touch" approach I take (Hate the fingerprints, see no benefits)

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Re: This is a 1000+€ convertible

The one reviewed here is something like $4000

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: eh?

mmeier doth protest too much, methinks.....

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Bronze badge

Re: This is a 1000+€ convertible

According to the Sony shop the biggest unit (i7 / 8GB / Win8Pro / 512GB SSD / second battery) costs a bit under 2400€ including VAT (and can be yours before the Idens of March ;) ). About the same price class as a similar loaded Fujitsu T902 (bigger screen size, less resolution). Both units are "Made in Japan". Both units have at least some user-serviceable parts (The T-Series has more AFAIK but is heavier)

Me, I wait for the Haswell-equiped versions of the Helix and a 13'' Duo and then decide, prefering the Helix (Wacom, detachable tablet)

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JDX
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Q: Do people really "lounge around and watch movies" on a tablet?

Is that even a serious question?

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Re: Q: Do people really "lounge around and watch movies" on a tablet?

Yes it is. For the last 2 years I had 2-3 tablets "on hand", both the "toy breeds" (iOS, Android 3 and 4) and the "working breeds" (Win7 and 8 on Atom and core-i) and never used them for that. At home I can do that a lot better on a 42'' TV screen(1) and while travelling I could never enjoy that. EBooks are fine but movies are not.

(1) Connected to a cheap E-Series Compaq that does double duty as a DVD player / NAS / CUPS Print server. Due to restrictions in cabeling my "Electronic cabinet" ended up in the living room cupboard

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Headmaster

Why is everyone "ohhh I loose the stylus"?

Loose your styluses! Let them run free! Sony steals them from their mothers and breeds them in dirty factory farms.

Anyway, people are always losing pens. Jerry Seinfeld has hours of material on losing pens.

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Intel HD graphics

It must be the worst thing happened to progress of x86 hardware& software especially in tablet& netbook form.

IMHO it was Intel graphics which killed the netbook alone.

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Meh

Re: Intel HD graphics

Noo it was slow single core CPUs, slow 4200rpm HDDS and 600 pixel depth screens that killed them.

The Intel graphics was the least of the worries.

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Re: Intel HD graphics

Ilgaz - I wasn't aware that there were any netbooks with Intel HD 4000 graphics, they came in with Ivybridge CPUs, and can quite happily decode HD video and drive a few monitors. Check the benchmarks online.

Things do get better, you know.

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Unhappy

Re: Intel HD graphics

"Noo it was slow single core CPUs, slow 4200rpm HDDS and 600 pixel depth screens that killed them.

The Intel graphics was the least of the worries."

I'm guessing the 'HD graphics' thing is a bit of misunderstanding.

Dual core netbooks with Intel GMA 3600/3650 GPU and the graphics drivers unavailable for Linux really didn't help make netbooks more useful, though, seeing as it was Linux that made netbooks really perform.

Checkout Atom N2600 and N2800 associated problems mentioned here:

http://communities.intel.com/thread/29157?start=15&tstart=0

and here:

http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=105091

Quoted from the Linuxmint forum, with my emphasis in bold:

Last generation of Intel Atoms: CedarView (D2300, D2500, D2550, D2600, D2700) and Cedar Trail (N2600, N2700, N2800) SoCs integrate a PowerVR GPU from Imagination instead of the usual Intel GPU. [...] An unsupported graphic card on Linux distributions, and which can't properly support a basic desktop environnment like Unity or Gnome 3.

Yeah, with the Atom N2800 able to support 4GB memory (http://ark.intel.com/products/58917) it seems perverse it should come with the limited Win7 Starter, and also not fully support Linux. I'm sure it made some sort of sense to someone to keep netbooks restricted by the OS. (Oooh look at the shiney new thing over there - touch the $hiney, shiney screen! - £ove the shiney!)

Atom N2600 and N2800 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom_N2600#.22Cedarview.22_.2832_nm.29_2

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JDX
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Re: Intel HD graphics

Sorry Jason but you're wrong. Modern onboard graphics are a huge leap forward from the i945 chepsets or whatever we used to have. It won't run a brand new game like your gaming rig but duh.

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Meh

Re: Intel HD graphics

@JDX

what are we referring too here? I was just commenting that the vast majority of netbooks had crappy hardware specs which is hardly deniable.

Fully aware than Intel HD4000 is a leap on from those days but nothing to do with netbooks.

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Re: Intel HD graphics

Why wouldn't a 2013, i7 cpu based device reaching $4K wouldn't run a high end game?

If it is normal, why wouldn't we buy a top ends nvidia tegra tablet with quarter of price?

See what I talk about? Intel should really do what it does best: Cpus. Graphics is totally different business. Their solutions are weak, pushed/forced to consumers.

I7 with 8 gig RAM? I expect it to play 4K 10 bit h265 with colour correction. Regular HD? Even my smart phone does it.

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Re: Intel HD graphics

"graphics drivers unavailable for Linux really didn't help make netbooks more useful, though, seeing as it was Linux that made netbooks really perform"

You mean except for the graphics under linux.

Seriously - linux drivers not being available does not equal "intel graphics wrecked a product line".

Netbooks that ran linux were a tiny minority of netbook sales - the vast majority of people don't want linux, they want compatibility with their windows programs (without faffing about with VMs, most users don't know what they are)

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Re: Intel HD graphics

Users do not "...want compatibility with their windows programs"; what they want is to easily do things they find useful. From the increase in usage of Linux, and especially the uptake of Android tablets, it is very clear they are not 'loyal' in some way to Windows programs but just interested in cheap convenient (handy and portable) functionality.

Not being blighted with bloat, Linux can get more performance from a lower spec system than any current Microsoft OS (so MSoft needs a higher spec than Linux) and therefore Linux has recently been the natural OS for any small cheap portable computers provided it can be useful.

But to be useful Linux needs to run an appropriate application in a way that is easily accessible to the user, and as most users are not CLI literate that means using a graphic interface.

So scotching the Linux graphic interface keeps netbooks from being cheap and useful, and for most users it just kills off the netbook and then leads in to the much more expensive higher-spec netbook replacements.

However, this approach is likely to fail on the cheap and convenient requirements which most purchasers still have (not being 'loyal' to spending more money than they have to, or buying more hardware than they need to), which is why they are so enthusiastic about cheap Android tablets (Warning - these tablets may give Microsoft the shits!).

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Meh

Re: Intel HD graphics

Because this is basically an ultra portable (hence the cost) with stunning pace for business and media use.

If you start to put discrete graphics in there you a) lose battery life and b) generate a lot of heat.

It is not a gaming rig, and you are not paying the price for a gaming rig. You are paying the price for a fully fledged computer to be squeezed into a package the size of an 11" screen whilst keeping 6 hour basic usage battery life.

It will not match an Alienware of the same cost, but then the Alienware will not have a long battery life or be light enough to take everywhere with you.

Horses for courses.

That said it does seem to have too many foibles to be useful (but then my last two Vaio's also got poor reviews on the reg and the two best laptops I have ever owned...)

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Stop

useless

I've got a vaio picturebook C1XD in the house - same size more or less, circa 1999. No touch screen, but similar size/market.

I've also got a vaio UX in the house - smaller umpc - touch screen, slide out keyboard, wifi, gprs, etc from 2003. Arguably exactly the same functionally as this thing.

10 years later and I'm looking at the same thing - still with all the same crappy limitations that made the other 2 interesting, expensive gadgets that were ultimately not useful for much real work.

Your analogy of motorbikes is a good one - but it shows the real lack of any real vision and end to end design in the PC market - and particularly in that, once king of consumer gadgets, Sony.

The next sentence is where i get a kicking from anti-apples - but say what you want about the company - with the exception of the odd 'play product' like the ipod mini - they don't bring something to market till it has been thought through and the tech and software is there to make it work. They then steadily evolve it.

Where is the evidence of this here ? 10 years on we have the same shite.

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Anonymous Coward

Asus have cheaper and better alternative

The Vivotab TF810 also has a Wacom 11.6 inch touch screen and keyboard and costs only £700. You can also adjust the viewing angle. Battery lasts forever :-)

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Bronze badge

Re: Asus have cheaper and better alternative

Comparing Atoms and core-i is like comparing baseballs and handgrenades. Similar size, both can be thrown.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Asus have cheaper and better alternative

I am not sure the i3 will be that much better. I have an i5 Ultrabook and the TF810 and I can use the Asus for most business and web tasks. I think the £400 price difference is not worth the extra cpu power and lower battery life.

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Bronze badge

Re: Asus have cheaper and better alternative

Depends on the tasks and how much the need (Assuming the UB has an SSD and not spinning metal HDD)

Memory (Max 2GB on Atom - 8GB here)

Disk (The Atoms "pocket SSD" are slow)

Processor power (The Atom is slow compared to an SSD)

Docking station (no USB3 for Atom), WIDI (None for Atom) or Miracast (may work with external USB dongle)

For some writing/surfing an Atom is enough. Run more than two applications, try to use CPU intensive stuff and it will break down AND start to eat power.

Do not get me wrong the TF810 (if one can get it) looks like a very nice unit even without the dock. Not cheap but if it is build like my EP121 (and from the forums it sounds like that) a good buy if you can live with Atoms restrictions. I found out (Lenovo S10-3) that I can not. YMMV

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I played with one of these today at a MS promo event for windows 8 (seems a bit late!)

I'd read several average-to-bad reviews, but I honestly liked it. The screen was bright and clear, everything was snappy, touch wasn't laggy at all. Handwriting recognition with fingertip was impressive; didn't get to try a stylus tho.

My major concern was it seemed weighty for such as small machine, but then again I'm used to a lighter yet larger laptop.

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Bronze badge

1.6-1.8 kg (Sheet battery and sleeve included(1)) is borderline for a tablet. 1kg is doable for an average person cradled in one arm but I won't protest less weight. Still this would be the configuration I would use allowing me "charger free" use over a workday

OTOH a convertible must be a bit sturdier since it will be handled different from a notebook in tablet mode

(1) Similar to a Helix in "Tablet+", leighter that a T-Series with dual batteries.

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WTF?

Sony?

Expensive

Poor battery life

Lock down so you can't use OEM drivers

Ridiculously priced accessories

Windows 8 ......

Not for me!

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Price

This is pretty close to being a decent machine but I don't really want a tablet/laptop hybrid so all the compromises that have been made to make that possible are just going to annoy me. Give me a 1080p screen on either an 11.6" or 13.3" laptop with 8GB Ram and either a 256GB SSD for a sensible price or a cheap 2.5" HDD that I can swap out myself.

If you want to upgrade this Vaio from a 128GB SSD to 256GB the cost is £250 !!! At a time when a decent 256GB SSD is £130 and top of the range is less than £200. Sony want £250 for an upgrade.

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Anonymous Coward

(Why?)

Say what you like about Sony, but few other companies can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with such panache. Except HP.

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Bronze badge

Rather reminds me

Of the AST 2260 (GRiD) Convertible I worked on around 1994.

http://www.sinasohn.com/cgi-bin/clascomp/bldhtm.pl?computer=penexec

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Headmaster

A slither of buttons?

A sliver, surely!

Or are you comparing Sony or the owners of these machines to snakes?

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