Sony's not afraid to take chances with design, and we love them for that reason. The Sony Vaio Duo 11 Windows 8 convertible slider was bold but a little complex in terms of hinge design, so Sony refined it with the Vaio Duo 13. Now they've got the Sony Vaio Flip in your choice of 3 sizes. Smart move since some folks want ultraportables while others crave a bigger display. We look at the Flip 13, a 13.3" Windows 8 64 bit convertible with Ultrabook specs that include an SSD. The 14 and 15 inch Flips come with convention spinning hard drives, though you can order them with SSDs.
The Sony Vaio Flip 13 has the cleanest and most unusual hinge design we've ever seen. The display portion's aluminum back panel has a visible split and this is where the machine does its transformation from laptop to presentation mode to tablet. It gives the Lenovo Yoga and Yoga 2 Pro a run for money because the Flip's keyboard doesn't face down to rest on the table or your legs like the Yoga models. At 2.89 lbs. the Flip 13 is also bearable to use as a tablet. With the 4.32 lb. Flip 14 and 5.05 lb. Flip 15, you'll likely rest the Vaio on the table or your leg rather than hold it for extended periods of time.
Build quality is superb with no uneven seams, no creaks or ugly hinges. The hinge is actually very firm to prevent display bounce when you use the touch screen. Magnets hold the screen in any of 3 positions and the whole thing feels solid despite the thin ribbon cable tucked safely inside. The lid and keyboard deck are made of brushed aluminum (your choice of black or silver) and the machine looks svelte, modern and classy. The bottom is plastic, which we actually don't mind since it doesn't feel cold against the legs.
All Flip models come with an active digitizer made by N-Trig. Sony's used N-Trig on their Duo models and the Flip works much the same. One point of confusion: the pen isn't included with most SKUs, you'll have to pay $40 to get one from Sony (it's the same pen as used on the Vaio Duo 13, N-Trig DuoSense 2). Generally if a tablet has an active digitizer the pen is included in the box, and I'm sure this will confuse some folks, or they might not even realize they can use a digital pen. As ever, with N-Trig you get accurate tracking and 256 levels of pressure sensitivity. N-Trig supports modern Windows Ink APIs so programs like MS Office 2013, ArtRage (bundled) and Sketchbook Pro have pressure sensitivity. Adobe CS products that require the WinTab driver don't have pressure sensitivity. Rumor is that Adobe will start supporting Windows Ink by the end of the year with their Creative Cloud suite.
Here's our Sony Vaio Flip 13 video review. Our full written review will follow.