Top positive review
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Game Changer! I'm extremely impressed
on November 14, 2012
Full Review, Pros and Cons are at the bottom for TL:DR sake.
This device weight is less than 3 lbs, much lighter than your average laptop. The design feels sturdy, even when you prop the device up to utilize the keyboard. Some other reviewers have stated that the slide out design "rattles" and "feels rickety". I have a much different opinion on it, the slide mechanic feels very sturdy and durable to me. I have had zero issues sliding the screen up and down. When in the upright position with keyboard out, you can use the stylus and write on the screen without any movement. I've tested this on all parts of the screen, the digitizer also recognizes the pressure used when writing, I can press relatively hard to get the "more ink" on feature just fine when free handing in word with the ink tool.
The design of where the Ethernet jack is placed works great, there are two tabs on the bottom that pop out to support it with a slight tilt to raise the Ethernet pop out design from touching the desk. The keyboard feels natural after a day of use. The only thing that felt weird originally when I first set hand on the device was where the spacebar was placed, I wanted to initially press the mouse pointer buttons, but that never became an issue after a couple hours of time on the device.
This device runs on the full version of Windows 8, you can utilize any of your regular desktop applications on this device! This is a big deal; you've gone from having just a typical supersized phone that most people call a tablet, to an Ultrabook that runs a complete desktop version of Windows 8! The design behind Windows 8 really feels like it was meant to be for this type of device. I definitely had some mixed feelings about Windows 8 when running it on my desktop machine; I was confused and didn't really understand the whole logic behind the metro start menu and such. But after getting some quality time with the Sony Vaio Duo 11 Ultrabook, it has made all the sense in the world to me. We've been pushed down this path with cell phones to learn how to use our fingers while navigating with a touch screen, and Microsoft has built a platform to get the best of both worlds, which really works for Mouse/Keyboard or a complete touch interface as you please. I found myself navigating through windows much quicker just being able to tap the places I want to go on the screen in a split second.
The Start screen feels very fluid, this device runs in 1080p (1920x1080). The screen is very bright if you need to turn it up while you are outside, and the clarity is simply amazing. Sliding through the tiles and using the left side of your screen to "tab" through applications that are running off the start menu is fast. Booting a program up such as the Music application and having the ability to listen to music instantly is great, then grabbing the app by sliding your finger from the top down then to the right or left will place the application on whichever side you moved it to. You've just split your screen and show a nice music player on the side of your screen and still have all the desktop real-estate to do plenty of other things in your desktop applications while controlling music on the sidebar. I have not noticed any frame drops in the desktop interface or in the "Metro Start Menu" interface. Everything moves super smooth.
Device and Application Speed:
This device is insanely fast given the SSD and Intel i5 processor. From a cold boot, you can be in your desktop within a mere 4 seconds. The speed is just unreal in this device. You can stack up the bottom bar with applications and tap through as fast as you can and expect everything up within seconds. I haven't got this device to choke up at all yet performance wise. I went as far as installing a nice resource hog game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to humor myself, this first person shooter multiplayer game ran very playable in the resolution 1280x720. Joined a 24 person server and played for about 10 minutes and couldn't believe it. Running at a solid 60fps pretty much the whole time with Vertical Sync set to Triple Buffered as well. The only time I would really see frame drops was when there was smoke or fire (I honestly wasn't even expecting this to run at all, considering normal desktop machines have trouble running this game normally).
Rebooting the machine is extremely quick; Windows 8 definitely was structured to boot and shut down much quicker than your normal Windows 7 computer. It feels like it runs much lighter but still has all the features that Windows 7 had with it. The only drastic change is the "Metro Style" Start Menu. You can just start typing in whatever application you want after you hit the Start Menu button and it will filter your results instantly, I've found that I actually enjoy typing the beginning of the app names I'm trying to load than to thumb through the start tiles or setting up shortcuts. The tiles would definitely be much faster if you were leaving this in the flat tablet state the whole time.
The audio on this device is plenty for the size of it. You can't get too crazy with the speakers but it gets plenty loud and stays clear. The Dolby audio software makes the audio sound really good, you might notice it doesn't use the lower frequencies as much in the sound profile, but this will sound more full if you use a real set of speakers or headphones. I plugged in my SteelSeries Siberia V2 headset into it and it sounded amazing from the headphone jack, so zero complaints there. I have not tried the HDMI for audio and video, but I don't imagine Sony would have bottlenecked here, I have not come across one bottleneck on this device yet.
The battery lasted about 4.5 hours just as stated, I went on the amazon website and streamed some tv shows for about 1.5 hours, booted up some of the games they have pre-loaded, did some various work in the office applications and streamed music for a bit all over Wi-Fi. For how small this device is and all the expectations I had, it surpassed everything I could have asked for in a tablet and laptop. I can completely understand why the stock battery performs the way it does. This is literally a super condensed version of a laptop with all the tablet features.
I had the opportunity to use an extended battery you can purchase off the Sony site for this device as well, the extended battery doesn't require you to remove the old one or get crazy at all, it just clips on and acts as a sheet that will put a nice slant on it without impeding on anything or hindering it in any way, and it also comes with a built in Stylus holder (Extended battery that is) and you can also just plug your power cable directly to the extended battery and let it charge by itself. You don't have to leave it plugged in to your device to actually charge it. The runtime was much longer with the extended battery, the other day we pulled about 15 hours out of it before it forced itself to shut down.
Just refer to this whole review, I can't say enough amazing stuff about this device.
This is no simplistic tablet design such as an iPad or Android platform tablet that in all reality is just a supersized phone. Why would you want to carry around a giant device, when your cell phone that sits in your pocket is just as capable of doing? This Ultrabook runs the complete Windows 8 OS, yes that means you can download and install/run your everyday applications you are already utilizing on your desktop currently! And this device is incredibly fast 4 second cold boot to desktop. The price for what you are really getting from this device. Think about how much it costs to purchase a quality laptop, or just a great digitizer and stylus setup that are pressure sensitive costs over $400. I can't say enough amazing things about this Ultrabook. I'm thoroughly impressed.
The only con about this device I have so far, is battery life. This can be changed by picking up an extended battery. There is no stylus holder on the device itself, but if you purchase the nice case through Sony or extended battery, they both have stylus holders.
Hats off to Sony, after you realize how fast and slick designed this device is, you wouldn't really choke up about the cost. This device was definitely worth the $1200 USD I spent on it. 5/5 in my book, passed the test with flying colors.
Video review and demo posted on youtube [...]