on July 19, 2013
First: the Amazon product description isn't accurate. This laptop contains a 256 GB SSD, but no conventional hard drive. (They currently list it with a 500 GB HD, which is not correct.)
The good: this is the laptop I'd been holding out for. It's fast enough and capable enough to run Adobe Photoshop with no problems or to allow me to manipulate a hugely complicated Excel spreadsheet filled with formulas without any noticeable lag. At the same time, it wakes up in less than 2 seconds, and the touchscreen when folded down into tablet position is great for taking notes on. The battery lasts far longer than most laptops, generally giving me 8-10 hours of work before running out. It's shockingly light.
The bad: while the hinge works great, I worry about its long-term sturdiness. The webcam light often stays on, which is creepy. The angle of the screen isn't adjustable, so although the brightness makes it readable from many angles, if you'd like a different angle than the default for ergonomic reasons you're just out of luck.
No buyers remorse on my part a week into having it, but I'd say that the primary audience is people who need high performance, long battery life, a touch screen, and light weight all wrapped up into one package that they're willing to pay a premium for.
UPDATED: It appears to be the case right now that there's no pressure sensitivity for the stylus in Photoshop. That might or might not be a dealbreaker for folks, and it might or might not eventually get fixed with a driver update.
on August 29, 2013
This is a review of the stock version with 8gb RAM and 256gb HDD.
My needs include grading and commenting on papers and exams for graduate school students. I wanted a convertible tablet with digital ink capabilities, that was larger than the typical 11.6 inch tablet. I needed something that could handle very large PDF files, so I could read and mark-up coursebooks in PDF form. Ideally, I would be able to replace my iPad and Macbook Air with one device.
Along the way, I tried the Asus Transformerbook TX300. It was too heavy, lacked the digital pen capability, and too slow in handling large pdf files. (It also had defective keyboard unit). I tried the Samsung ATIV 700t. The ATIV 700t had digital ink, but was as sluggish as the Transformerbook with large PDF files, and the screen was too small at 11.6 inches.
I thought a long time before going with this Sony -- not sure I liked the slider form; concerned about the Wifi problems people seemed to have. But, I went with it, and find it to be extremely useable, and a great fit for my purposes.
The slider format, I've discovered, is far superior to the detachable tablet approach in the Transformerbook and the ATIV 700t. For marking papers in MS WORD, I can easily change from typed comments to handwritten comments, just by sliding from notebook to tablet. It's quick, and simple. Durability may be an issue, but I plan to get Square Trade or some other kind of extended protection.
The unit is light enough that I can and do take it with me to work on a daily basis, as I did with the iPad. It boots up very quickly. Easy to use it to get work done in the subway, or wherever.
I have not had any significant Wifi problems. It gets a signal (though weak) two floors below where the router is, and a strong signal on the floor where the router is. I had considered the version with ATT broadband, but decided I could use the mobile hotspot function of my phone. The Sony connected with that Wifi from my phone just fine as well.
Battery life is great. It's reassuring not to have to worry about the computer losing its charge before I lose interest in doing more work.
I've seen that many observers are questioning whether this Sony has any real market. From my perspective, this Vaio Duo 13 has a great design and set of features for students and teachers.
Of course, some things could be better. The key travel is too shallow. As is true with almost all Windows machines these days, the aspect ratio is not right for reading in portrait mode (something that students and faculty would likely want to do). Windows programs for marking up PDF files are far more cumbersome than is Goodreader for the iPad -- hopefully someone can create a program like Goodreader for Windows 8. (This is not a Sony problem, but something that a person switching from iPad to this might want to consider).
But, again, having a real computer, with real computing power, with a sufficiently large screen, in such a light form, with all my Office and PDF programs, able to handle multiple programs simultaneously without getting bogged down, easily convertible from notebook to tablet, and with the active digitizer -- it's really a great package.
on July 30, 2013
I own the Sony Vaio Duo 13 with i7-4650, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD and Windows 8 Pro. It is an impressive convertible ultrabook.
The device feels very solid and has a premium feel.
- The left and right edges of the screen bezel has a slight lip near the middle that catches your fingernail (it's not perfectly flush).
- There are two hooks on the base that attaches to the bottom of the screen to keep it secured when the screen is up, but the hooks can sometimes miss and the screen needs to be realigned. If the Duo is on a 45-degree or more slant then the screen will become unhooked and hang loose.
- This ultrabook does not have a lock hole.
The Duo 13 is lightweight for a laptop but not light enough for one-handed use as a tablet.
Beautiful IPS display.
- The screen can be hard to view in direct sunlight.
- The screen is great, although a 60-degree angle (like the MS Surface) instead of 45 would be better. The IPS display has decent viewing angles so I can live with that.
- The sliding screen design allows the screen to be closer within reach than traditional laptops. I like this design over others where the screen is further at the edge of the base.
- Having the screen on top and slide out has its benefits to be used as a tablet/slate without having the keyboard in the way. This was one of the main reasons why I chose the Duo over the Pro.
- It would be nice if the screen can somehow flip out of the way if you didn't need it. All I need is the keyboard when connected to an external display and the blank screen is just in the way.
- Other ultrabooks may have higher resolution screens but 1080p seems sufficient for this 13" screen. The screen magnification is set to 125% by default, which still allows a large workspace. Setting it to 100% gives you a very ample workspace but items can be too small.
- The touch accuracy works as intended, but it can get tricky to pinpoint some buttons in desktop mode with your finger. This is where the pen comes in handy.
- Note that this screen only has 5 touch points instead of 10, but I haven't found the use for that many touch points. Windows 8 doesn't allow you to drag multiple items with multiple fingers anyways.
- I had the Duo custom built at Sony's online store and had them apply the screen protector at the factory. The screen protector does takes away some glare, glossiness, and color.
- Note that output displays are limited to 1080p. I wish it could go higher for my higher resolution monitors.
- It has a flat surface for use with Windows edge gestures.
The keyboard could be larger with more key travel.
- The keys are very well spaced and I can type at full speed. Most of my typing errors are from missing the right Shift key and pressing Up on accident.
- My main gripe is that the right Shift key is too small. I find myself frequently pressing Up instead of Shift with my right pinky finger on accident.
- The key travel is very shallow and takes some getting used to.
It's small but does the job.
- The trackpad does the job but I rarely use it. I cranked the sensitivity up so it is more usable.
- It's easy to accidentally tap the touchpad while typing so care is needed while typing. Good thing Sony included a hot key to disable the trackpad (Fn + F1).
- The left half left-clicks and the right will right-click.
- Gestures work just fine with the Synaptics drivers and can be customized.
- The pen does not work on the trackpad.
The pen works as intended. It comes in handy for accurate pointing but I can live without it.
- It feels nice and solid but could be more comfortable.
- The top half of the pen where the clip meets already broke loose, as if the super glue no longer sticks.
- It is not a Wacom pen so limited apps can use the sensitivity feature at the moment.
- The clip holder snaps into place and is much better than having nothing to hold the pen. If it weren't for the clip holder then I would probably leave the pen at home.
- The "ink well" holder is built in and slides out when needed, but I rarely use it.
Mediocre cameras on front and back.
- The front camera is not adjusted to account for the 45-degree angle screen. If the screen is up then the camera will also be looking up 45-degrees.
- Included is a FastAccess Facial Recognition app to log in, but it is pretty slow at recognizing faces.
- The USB ports on the back are somewhat out of reach, especially when the screen is propped up. It would be better if they were on the side, however, it's nice that all the wires are routed on the back.
- No wifi issues here. The wifi signal is stronger when the screen is propped up.
- Bluetooth works as intended.
- I haven't tried Intel Wireless Display but look forward to testing that out since it's built in.
This ultrabook is no slouch!
- The SSD allows for fast boot times as well as quick read/write times. It'll boot up in about 10 seconds and restart in about 20 seconds. It almost instantly wakes up when resuming from sleep.
- The i7 CPU doesn't break a sweat when I push it.
- The fan is not too loud (there's a setting in Vaio Control Center that allows you to adjust the fan noise and CPU performance).
- The vent hasn't gotten hot, but the port side where the power plug can get warm when I'm charging it and running multiple USB displays off one port.
This was one of the main selling points for me. An advertised 10 hour battery life was unheard of until Haswell came out.
- I can get about 4-5 hours using CPU intensive apps like Traktor to mix music at regular screen brightness and timeout settings. I can picture it lasting 6-8+ hours if I try to conserve power by lowering the screen brightness and shortening the display timeout/dimming settings. I have the display set to dim in 1 minute to 0% and it has helped with battery life.
- The battery doesn't seem to drain when the laptop is in sleep mode so I just put it to sleep instead of shutting down.
- It charges pretty quickly at about 1% per minute.
I like this convertible ultrabook very much and I can picture myself using it for years to come. I can recommend it to others.
- It is overpriced but you get what you pay for (powerful CPU/GPU, good battery life, beautiful display, quick SSD [probably the most expensive part], solid and thin build). This is a premium ultrabook.
- The battery life, screen, keyboard and weight could use some improvement to earn another star. If the battery could last 10 hours as advertised under normal use then that would be great. The screen would be better if it were adjustable or at a 60-degree angle. The keyboard is not the best but works for daily use. It could be lighter for one-handed use.
on August 2, 2013
I looking for great laptop and good for tablet. This machine is amazing fast and great responsive in many ways. It can be one of my favorite gadget if it does not have serious Wifi connection problem. I use Apple Time capsule (old version) as my router to internet. Normally, I use my computer, tablet far from it around 15-20 feet, nothing go wrong. All my machine work and run internet extremely fast and never have disconnected problem.
My new Sony Duo 13 is show only 2 bars for Wifi connection (all other devices show 5 full bars) but on top of that they running all download super slow and disconnected from my router occasionally. I have to move my Duo very close to my router, the result is super fast as 10 times as 15 feet away. I try to update all the driver and patch of window 8 by lay it down next to each other.
The result is the same. I have to returned it to AMAZON. sorry.
on September 25, 2013
this machine is a beauty in all respects except one - and that's a critical dimension. It is beautiful to look at, lightweight, fast processor etc. etc. But for a tablet PC to have a practically non functioning wireless adapter borders on criminal, and I paid 1900 dollars for this!! My Six year old Toshiba tablet, when placed right adjacent to this machine shows four bars when this one shows one bar, sometimes none. It takes for ever, and I mean for ever, to download anything. So I guess Sony intended for this machine to be used in stand alone mode only!! A standalone tablet - there's a new concept. Such a pity - the machine is a beauty in all other respects. But if you want to use the Internet, good luck......
on July 22, 2013
I was intrigued by the Duo 11 but hesitated due to its difficult to use smallish keyboard and short battery life. Thanks to Intel Haswell and Sony's updates, I finally get the perfect hybrid laptop I've been waiting for. Beautiful and light weight, fast, 1080p multi-touch IPS screen, long battery life, decent keyboard and a pressure-sensitive stylus.
Agree with the first review, Amazon need to correct the HDD spec, it is a 256GB SSD. The top end model with the 512GB SSD cost 2700. Anyway, I've used it for a few days and here's my initial impression.
- Beautifully designed and thin, form factor is quite an eye catcher
- Surprisingly light, feels like holding an 11" notebook instead of a 13" one
- Boot up is incredibly fast, takes only a few second like a game console
- Performance is very snappy, the i7 is plenty fast for most computing use
- Quiet and cool under light use, have not tested heavy loads yet
- Beautiful 1080p IPS screen. 1080p is about prefect for 13"
- Usable back-lit keyboard
- Real touch pad instead of some weird pointing device, though a little small
- Very good battery life for such a fast notebook, approaching that of a tablet
- NFC. May not be useful but good to know it's included
- Pressure sensitive digitizer and supported art software included
- Screen angle not adjustable
- Screen is quite glossy but expected just like in most tablets
- Hinge does not seem very sturdy so be more careful with it
- Only the screen bezel is white. I wish the entire body is white
- Keyboard keys lacks travel compare to normal notebook
- Does not have a slot to keep the stylus in
- Not Wacom digitizer so third party support may be lacking
- Non-removeable batteries
- No RAM slot
- A little pricey
Overall I am very pleased with this hybrid notebook and my wife loves it. I really wanted the Duo 11 when it came out but my wife did not like it. Glad I hold out for the Haswell update. The Duo 13 is better than the Duo 11 in every aspect. The larger screen is more useful for 1080p, the larger keyboard is more practical, and it is amazing that Sony was able to keep its weight almost the same as the Duo 11. And thanks to Haswell, battery life about doubles. It is more expensive, but in this world you usually get what you pay for. I would give it 4.5 stars, but since there's no half star, I give it a 5.
Other thoughts: this is my first Windows 8 experience. I took an evening to learn it and it was pretty nice. After a while the touch experience feel quite natural. Only thing I miss is the Start menu, glad that 8.1 is almost here and will bring the Start menu back. On the other hand I can understand users on a desktop with a non-touch screen would complain about the start screen.
on September 19, 2013
I bought this laptop month ago. I wanted a machine that is light enough that I can carry around for meetings and presentations while powerful enough for data visualization and data mining tools. This one fit the bill with great style! If only it worked as good at it looks.
I faced the following problems:
1) WiFi strength: It simply sucks. I have to sit literally next to the router or in an environment with powerful repeaters. However, I performed all the updates and nothing changed. However, I had an old USB WiFi adapter and used it wherever required and connected this thru an ASUS docking station to ethernet at my work desk. So, this problem was somewhat mitigated and I am was willing to live with this but for the next problem.
2) The machine just freezes every few hours without any kind of warning or pattern. I spent a few hours with a Sony rep on the phone and performed all the upgrades. I cannot use this for any meaningful work now, especially carry it for presentations.
This is going back tomorrow to meet its maker!
The reliability history chart in Action Center of Control panel shows 1 out of 10 since I purchased this. Not a flattering score!
on September 7, 2013
this review is for the product as well as the customer support.please save yourself a lot of unnecessary aggravation and an eventual loss of money by NOT BUYING THIS PRODUCT. i am not one to write reviews, but this is one of the worst product/customer service experiences i have ever had. As a student it is absolutely disgusting that sony would literally rob me of $400. Over labor day weekend i happened to stumble into the Sony store and after speaking to a very persuasive sales associate, i decided to purchase the vaio duo 13. BIG MISTAKE! I had intended to us this computer for going back to school as well as work. Unfortunately the computer is utterly useless as it has no wifi capability whatsoever. It could not even detect the network!! furthermore, my 7 year old toshiba laptop regularly detects my neighbors networks, none of which were detected on the useless sony computer. dissappointed with the product i went back to the sony store intending to return it, when i was literally slapped with a 15% "restocking fee" (WHAT?!) they intended to charge me $300 for taking back their own s***ty product. after hearing a song and dance about them updating the drivers and that the issue was fixed i took the computer back home and tried it again. STILL DIDNT WORK. annoyed and aggravated i went back to the store for the 3rd time and spoke to yet another manager (laura) who persuaded me to try another computer the vaio pro 13 and assured me that if i continued to experience problems that i could take a screen shot and return the product without any issue and that they would waive the ridiculous restocking fee.Once again, trying not to be a difficult customer i agreed and waited an additional 3 hrs for the vai pro to be updated and installed. took it home and guess what, NO CONNECTION. i went back to the store and the ridiculous IT guy gave me attitude by trying to insinuate that it was a problem with my router and not the computer.(i had just upgraded my router literally a month ago so this possibility was quickly excluded. also the computer did not work at school, or my brothers home. and yet still, somehow it was my fault?!) long story short, the previous manager Laura had lied to me and i ended up paying $400 to return their abysmal product. I have never had a worse experience. I have lost $400 for absolutely no reason. being a student that is a substantial amount of money for me. The customer service provided was awful, they did not even try to help.THERE IS A KNOWN WIFI ISSUE WITH SONY COMPUTERS, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND STAY AWAY FROM THIS PRODUCT!!!!!
on August 18, 2013
I'll start off by saying that I had extremely specific criteria when searching for a new laptop that would fit my needs. I'm what I guess you could call a "power user": someone that demands some high-end function and various key features from their PC that you might not commonly find in average PC's. I read all the tech blogs, review sites, and rumor mills for upcoming tech, and upon weighing my needs and every individual spec of this computer versus others, this was the clear choice. On a side note I'm a graphic design student that requires the Adobe design suites to work swimmingly.
What I was looking for:
-A digitizer stylus enabled screen, allowing me to (virtually) draw directly on the screen itself.
-Next-generation battery life that outpaced the previous wave of 2-4 hour battery life laptops, reaching into the 8-10 hour range.
-A powerful processor for Photoshop and Illustrator, with a MINIMUM of 8GB of RAM (almost everything else on the market had/has 4GB of RAM, which eliminated a lot of choices).
-A larger SSD than 256GB to ensure that I'd have enough room for all the software and Photoshop files that normally fill up lower capacity SSDs in a flash (enjoy that pun).
-A high-resolution screen that doesn't make me feel like I'm "missing out" on a beautiful screen, much like that of the hi-res screen trends of the Nexus 10 and iPad.
-A hybrid form-factor that allowed me to have flexible options when both using my laptop and showing content to other people. Most importantly, a fold flat, draw-friendly mode to make drawing seem as seamless as an actual sketchbook and pencil.
-An overall attractive design that makes me feel "cool" when I'm using it (you know what I'm talking about).
Guess what? This laptop satisfied all of those needs/wants on paper, and translated to an incredibly efficient and flexible laptop in real world usage.
The screen is gorgeous, the tablet mode option is incredibly useful for drawing, the battery life is SO GOOD, the specs in this computer are insane, the laptop body is beautifully designed, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on a single thing by NOT picking this laptop up over the hundreds of other ones out there. Just the little details like the ambient light sensor for the backlit keyboard and screen brightness, or the slim charger with included USB port for charging both your phone and laptop simultaneously makes you feel like you made the right decision in ponying up the cash. The price is premium, because you won't find this many options or this powerful of specs in anything else out there.
If you have bleeding-edge needs in a beautiful, powerful and flexible package, this is it.
P.S. After downloading the driver updates directly from Sony, I have no trackpad or wifi issues. I encourage anyone who has issues to do the same.
on July 31, 2013
Avoid it. I brought the same model from Sony online store and returned it at the same week. The Wi-Fi constantly dropped on this model and the signal was very weak. (The Vaio duo 13 had only 1- 2 bars signals where my Vaio T had 4 bars, and my Toshiba had 5 bars) I even took it to the local Sony store and installed the Wi-Fi patch. The problem was still there.