The Sony Vaio Duo 11 is one of the more interesting Windows 8 tablets to hit the market with the launch of Microsoft's new operating system. Like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, Asus Taichi and Toshiba Satellite U925t, the Vaio Duo 11 has a gimmick. In the Duo's case it's a touchscreen tablet with a slider keyboard design that sets it apart from traditional notebook designs that simply have touchscreens.
The 2.87 pound computer can be used as a slate or in a nearly standard laptop position. It has an 11.6" full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display with Gorilla Glass that's simply stunning. It's also bright at 400 nits. Typical of Sony, build quality and materials are excellent with liberal use of metal and a slider that's firm and solid, though the slider bits are accessible if you reach behind the metal baffle plate on the rear that protects them (keep it away from small children and curious cats).
We've seen quite a few touchscreen Windows 8 machines at launch, but few have the active digitizer with digital pen that used to be standard issue with Windows tablet PCs. The Vaio Duo 11 has a 10 point capacitive multi-touch display and an active N-Trig digitizer with a lovely pen included (alas, there's no place to stow the pen in the computer unless you add on the $149 battery slide with pen silo). The digital pen has two buttons (generally assigned to right click and erase) and it's far more precise than a capacitive stylus. It also supports pressure sensitivity in apps like the included Art Rage Pro, though we've yet to find drivers for apps that use WinTab drivers like Photoshop.
Unlike the MS Surface RT tablet we recently reviewed, this is full Windows 8 running on an Intel Core i5 CPU (a Core i7 is also available) with Intel HD 4000 graphics. That means you can run Windows 7 apps and all .exe programs. The i5 ships with 6 gigs of DDR3 RAM and 8 gigs is max. You can get it with a 128 or 256 gig SSD drive. Ports are relatively abundant for an Ultrabook class machine, and these include two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, VGA and gigabit Ethernet. The Sony Vaio Duo 11 has dual band Intel WiFi with WiDi, Bluetooth 4.0 +HS and NFC. The price starts at $1,099, and that's not bad considering what you get vs. a standard Ultrabook and touchscreen tablets that lack a full HD display and active digitizer.
The convertible tablet has a backlit island style keyboard and an optical navigation device. The keyboard is small given the 11.6" size, but I find it quite usable. When the slider is closed, the keyboard is tucked safely under the display section. The Vaio Duo 11 is fast, portable, great looking and we love the 1080p display, not to mention the pen. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite Windows 8 machines.