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The Sony Vaio Duo 11 is one of many new notebooks that fundamentally changes the way we look at portable devices. Instead of needing both a powerful notebook for work and a light and portable tablet for content viewing, these convertible models combine the two. Out of all the convertible Ultrabooks out there, the Duo 11 feels the most 'tablet-like' with its compact 11-inch size screen and bright, full HD IPS display. Conversely, its notebook form is not as impressive. The screen angle is fixed and cannot be adjusted, and the cramped keyboard and lack of trackpad and wrist rest makes typing a bit awkward. This reviewer felt that typing on the Duo 11 felt more like using a keyboard peripheral on a tablet than an actual notebook. Having said that, we discovered that users who are more familiar with smaller tablet keyboards and peripherals might find the slightly larger size and backlight of the Duo 11 keyboard a step up over what they're used to.
Form factor concerns aside, the Duo 11 has still got notebook performance where it counts, with its full Ultrabook specced components making it suitable for any productivity tasks as well as most light multimedia needs. In our opinion the Core i5 model should be more than sufficient, as the 10% performance gain in non-graphics related tasks does not seem worth the extra S$700 you'll need to pay for the Core i7 model that has a list price of S$2699 (unless of course, you really need the bigger 256GB SSD). The Core i5 model should also boast slightly better battery life. We did the math and clearly, the Core i7 is priced higher than one would expect from the change in just the processor type and a larger SSD. In fact, the Core i7 processor isn't even necessary for a product of this class as the specifications between both processor models are insignificant for most users (1) (2).
Overall, we loved the Duo 11's full HD display and excellent connectivity options (if Sony can squeeze a VGA port onto an 11-inch machine, then there's no excuse for compromises on 13-inch machines!). The Surf-Slider mechanism is one of the smoothest out there and definitely the quickest transition between tablet and notebook. For this, we're awarding the Sony Vaio Duo 11 an Innovation Award. However, we expect that most users will be keeping the Duo 11 in tablet form the majority of the time (unless one needs to prop up the screen), as it just works so much better in this state. The Digitiser Stylus is quite sufficient for inputting text so there's no real need to ever use the keyboard and there's absolutely no reason to ever use the optical sensor.
Considering all of this, the Duo 11 is probably best suited for users who want a powerful tablet first and a notebook second, but in a combined package. Given its design, build, connectivity options and size, we would say the Duo 11 is a great fit for those looking for a all-purpose business tablet with Ultrabook specifications and even transforms into one if required for short bursts.
In our opinion, the Core i5 model and it S$1999 price tag makes it a much better buy as it would perform just as well for most needs. This raises its Value score to 8 (as compared to a Value score of 7 for the reviewed Core i7 edition).
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