- 3DMark: Ice Storm: 19365, Cloud Gate: 1573, Fire Strike: 172
- Cinebench Graphics : 3.94 FPS, CPU : 141 pts
With a 2.16GHz Intel Pentium N3520 processor, you don't really expect industry-leading performance. Unsurprisingly, the Vaio 11A got the lowest benchmarks next to the Yoga 11S and the Transformer Book TX300. The processor just isn't as powerful as the other two notebooks. (We weren't able to test PCMark 8 battery life on this device in time for the review, but will update this space as soon as a result comes in.)
Yet, my real-world testing with the device wasn't quite as painful as the benchmarks might hint. There was some delay when loading apps if I had a lot of processes going at once, but my typical use – browsing the web with multiples tabs while listening to music – wasn't bad at all. Toss a YouTube video and a flash game like Plants Vs Zombies, and some slight stuttering was noticeable, but never debilitating.
Boot time was nice and speedy, thanks both to Windows 8 and the SSD storage drive. The notebook loads directly into desktop mode, and I could instantly open apps and switch to the Tiles interface.
The Windows home button is always quick and responsive, which is handy, especially in tablet mode. Tapping that button to return to the menu was always quicker than swiping from the right and clicking Start.
Perhaps too sharp of a screen?
On an 11.6-inch screen, such a high number of pixels make desktop elements extremely small. Using the touchscreen while in Desktop mode is definitely better with the N-Trig pen than a finger.
I often found myself poking the wrong button or icon when navigating settings or folders. I liked the size of the desktop better when I knocked down the resolution, but that just makes everything look slightly fuzzy.
The colors on the display are bright and vivid, however, making the Windows 8 tiles screen a pretty rainbow of color and made movies and YouTube videos pop.
But the 1080p resolution doesn't come without it's faults. On an 11.6-inch screen, such a high number of pixels make desktop elements extremely small. Using the touchscreen while in Desktop mode is definitely better with the N-Trig pen rather than a finger.
With my finger, I often found myself poking the wrong button or icon when navigating settings or folders. I liked the size of the desktop better when I knocked down the resolution, but that just makes everything look slightly fuzzy.
There was some slight lag when flipping over the display to switch between notebook and tablet mode, but that's only because it takes a couple of seconds for the device to auto-change orientations.
There isn't a specific tablet-mode for the user interface, since Windows 8 is designed to be so touch friendly. Still, I found myself rarely using the tablet mode, just because it was so awkward. A notebook that weighs 2.82 pounds is great, but a tablet that heavy is just cumbersome.
An "N-Trig'ing" stylus
Sony has opted for an N-Trig powered pen, as opposed to the more push-sensitive Wacom. For all of my needs, this digitizer pen served its duty well, with touches being quick and responsive. The pen is also a very nice weight, feeling like a premium product, which added to the digitizer experience.
The notebook can detect when the tip of the pen is close to the display, showing a little white dot to mark location. When held close to the screen, the two buttons on the pen automatically launch pen-related apps: one opens Vaio Clip and the other Vaio Paper. This made it easy to quickly take and annotate a screenshot or jot a quick note.
The only thing missing was a way to snap the pen onto the notebook. Sony's Vaio Tap 11 had a strange little plastic clip that could snap on and hold the pen, but there's nothing like that with the Vaio 11A. I kept forgetting the pen at home.