The release of Windows 8 has heralded a host of new stylish tablets that make a pleasant change from the bland anonymous slates which have come to represent the Android market.

Almost daily there's a new innovative tablet-laptop hybrid device, designed to suit every user need and bag size, and this strange looking Sony Vaio Duo 11 offers more than meets the eye.

The 11.6-inch Sony Vaio Duo 11 embodies a sliding tablet design not unlike the Asus Eee Pad Slider of 2011.

It's a departure from the majority of manufacturers who have opted for docking 'transformer' style devices, such as the Samsung Ativ Smart PC and Asus Vivo Tab. Both of these have detachable keyboards so you can choose whether you want to travel light with a tablet, or increase the bulk (traditionally around 1.3kg/2.9lbs) to have the keyboard as well.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

The Sony Vaio Duo 11 is different. Instead of the ARM-based processors you'll find in the iPad, Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 or Windows RT tablets such as the Microsoft Surface, this runs a full Intel Core processor.

This means you can run full Windows programs as well as apps such as Angry Birds and TV catchup apps from the Windows Store.

It's not just the processor that's different. Instead of being a bland black slate, the screen lifts and slides back to reveal a keyboard. It's held together by a weighty hinge, meaning that wherever you go, the keyboard comes with it.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

The lack of detachability indicates that Sony is aiming at the more professional end of the market. Being able to lose the keyboard means that people are more likely to use their device for playing games and browsing the web.

The Sony Vaio Duo 11, on the other hand, is built for 'doing', and the inclusion of a stylus pen puts creative types and business users in its sights. But, with a full price of £999/AU$1,499/US$1,199.99, how does it rate?

Specification


The main difference between the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and the rest of the tablet market is that x86 processor. It's an Intel Core i5 3317U chip clocked at 1.7GHz - the same low power variety found in Ultrabooks. While 1.7GHz may seem low, it can Turbo Boost itself to a whopping 2.7GHz under heavy strain, which means it's no slouch.

The Sony Vaio Duo 11 packs the power of a leading laptop into the body of a tablet. This means that advanced photo and video editing are more than within its capabilities, and you can multitask apps to your heart's content.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

Windows 8 positively flies, and you can zip around the operating system using swipe gestures that never leave you waiting.

Unfortunately, all that power comes at a cost, and the Sony Vaio Duo 11's pay off is a noticeable increase in bulk and weight. The super svelte iPad or Samsung Ativ Smart PC it is not, and the Sony weighs a muscle-testing 1.3kg (2.9lbs), the same as a modern ultra-portable laptop.

To make it easier to hold and use away from a flat surface, Sony has tapered the edges, which does make a difference, but we still feel that the Sony Vaio Duo 11 is destined for use at a desk or on the sofa.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

While it may lack the portability and sleekness of its rivals, it's not just power that makes the Sony unique.

The Sony Vaio Duo 11 packs an 11.6-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS panel, which looks glorious. Not only is Windows 8's new interface sumptuously represented, but also apps, games and movies too.

And it's touchscreen, which negates any need for a mouse. That's a good job, since there's no trackpad included, so you have the option of using Windows 8's touchscreen interface, the awful optical 'nipple' on the keypad that harks back to a 1990s ThinkPad, or a USB rodent.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

The screen is an IPS panel that provides generous viewing angles, should you have people congregating around your screen.

The only downside is the extremely reflective coating, and like all tablets, the Duo is a magnet for fingerprints. This combination meant we were regularly reaching for a cleaning cloth.

Of course, the added bulk makes way for plenty of storage space. While a tablet may come with 16GB space and in the case of the iPad no room for expansion, the Sony is a completely different beast.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

There's a 128GB SSD drive supplied as standard, as well as an SD card slot, which can offer up to 64GB more. On top of this you'll find two USB 3.0 slots, which can be used for portable hard drives that could offer 10x the capacity - and at lightning speeds, too.

While on the subject of connectivity, there's also Ethernet, HDMI and VGA ports. This gives the Sony Vaio Duo 11 an advantage over the likes of the Samsung Series 9 and the MacBook Air, where the decision to relegate Ethernet to a USB or Thunderbolt dongle has frustrated thousands of people who have had the displeasure of walking into a meeting only to find a wired connection.

Sony Vaio Duo 11