Sony have announced a new tablet/ultrabook at Computex today, just like Asus and Acer have the last few days. This time it’s the 13.3-inch convertible tablet Sony VAIO Duo 13 – or what Sony calls both a hybrid ultrabook as well as slider hybrid PC with Windows 8/Windows 8 Pro.
(UPDATED: The Vaio Duo 13 is now in stores. The Intel i5 model wil start shipping on July 19, while the Intel i7 model will ship on July 27.)
The VAIO Duo 13, is Sony’s second VAIO Duo ultrabook, after Sony released the smaller VAIO Duo 11 with an 11.6-inch screen last year. The Duo 13 is easy to operate by simply sliding the display back to reveal the keyboard and set it up as a laptop, or slide the display back over the keyboard again and use it as a tablet.
The hardware specs are good, even if the greatest strength of this ultrabook seems to be in its total software wrapping and the skin Sony have outfitted it with.
Sony VAIO Duo 13 will be sold as at least 4 different models. The choice is between Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro (both 64-bit), Intel Core processors from i3 to i7-4500U with Turbo Boost, RAM up to 8GB (LPDDR3 1600MHz SDRAM), and a SSD hard drive up 512GB.
General Hardware Specs
Standard specs for all models are the 13.3-inch display with a 1920×1080 resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. The graphics processor is the Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU. Further specs are Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 (x1) + USB 3.0 with USB charge (x1), HDMI out, Memory Stick Duo/SD memory card combined slot, ClearAudio+ stereo speakers, 8 Megapixel rear camera, 2.07 Megapixel front camera, Mobile Broadband Module (LTE or HSPA+, UMTS, EDGE/GPRS).
The sensors on board are NFC, GPS, accelerometer, gyro, and a digital compass.
The accessories includes a digitizer stylus, HDMI to VGA adapter, and a clever AC powered Ethernet to Wi-Fi Router.
Weight and Dimensions
DxHxW: 330 mm x 19.5 mm x 210 mm. The weight is 1350 gram, which is very little for a ultrabook or PC, but a lot for a tablet. Color choices are between black, or a white/silver combination.
In addition to outfitting the VAIO Duo 13 with a digitizer stylus, Sony have given it a few other helpful productivity features too.
Camera Scanner and Facial Recognition
The 8MP rear camera have a feature called “Exmor RS for PC,” essentially an image sensor that makes it possible to photograph documents and blackboards clearly enough for the computer to recognize and tag the text within. Then, through the included “CamScanner” app it has the ability to straighten images of documents and photos taken at odd angles.
In addition to the text and image scan feature of the rear camera, it also uses facial recognition to log you on to the computer.
The digitizer stylus have its own pen holder on the right side of the ultrabook, that when unclipped from its holder, will automatically launch the app ‘Note Anytime for VAIO’ meant for instant memo-taking. The touch sensors are automatically turned off when the pen is near the screen to enable a more natural writing position.
The standby technology is set up so that it has a constant Internet connection even in sleep mode. Sony also boasts a rapid wake up time from the sleep mode of less than one second.
3G/LTE and Wi-Fi
The Wi-Fi specs are WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n, but that’s not all there is too it. 3G or LTE mobile broadband is embedded into the Duo 13.
And then, the AC adapter-powered Wi-Fi router turns an Ethernet connection into your own “on-the-go” hotspot. Simply plugging it in will instantly create your own Wi-Fi network, with support of up to five smartphones or tablets at once.
Sony claims that the VAIO Duo 13 has the longest battery life of any ultrabook. So what does that mean? Sony first claimed 15 hours, which sounded an awful lot. But upon investigation, Sony seemed to modify it’s claim a little by officially stating that “…The battery life is 15 hours based on MobileMark 2007. This is equal to 18 hours in JEITA-BAT1.0, 11 hours in JEITA-BAT1.0 and 10 hours in MobileMark 2012…”
So in practice we are looking at a 10-hour battery life, which is still good considering all the specs. Sony have usually had good battery life on their computer products the last couple of years, so this doesn’t surprise us.
Sony VAIO Duo 13 was first supposed to be released on June 9, though there was no sight of it in Microsoft Store. Sony then moved the release date back a month, to July 9 instead.
For people or companies who doesn’t need enhanced business security features, this ultrabook could offer a little bit of an edge, and assistance in productivity for those in need of a reliable mobile office.
– Jim Miller