Sony Vaio Tap 20 review

A 20-inch Windows 8 tablet that fails to live up to the promise

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The Sony Vaio Tap 20 is certainly fit for purpose - as an overweight tablet and as a touchable all-in-one PC - in the sense that it's built solidly, with a versatile metal kickstand and the usual unspectacular but functional wireless accessories bundled in the box.

We should make a quick mention here of the mouse: Sony apparently builds mice for strange alien claws rather than human hands. We suppose it's a way to get people touching that screen.

Sony Vaio Tap 20 review

It's relatively rugged, as far as this kind of machine goes, with a drop sensor and a splash-proof screen, and while there's no Gorilla Glass toughness it should be sturdy enough to withstand the rigours of family use.

Once you switch it on, it becomes apparent that the Sony Vaio Tap 20 has a few chinks in its armour. Let's start with the screen, a paltry 1600 x 900 panel stretched out to 20 inches, with a pixel density that immediately induced a headache.

Sony Vaio Tap 20 review

As soon as we reached touchscreen distance - and we have particularly long arms - that heavily pixellated panel became a bother, making the touch element of the Sony Vaio Tap 20 difficult to use, at least for us.

You might not have the same trouble, but that doesn't mean a Full HD 1080p panel shouldn't have been included - it absolutely should. Corners have been cut compared to other all-in-one machines of the same price.

Sony Vaio Tap 20 review

To the Sony Vaio Tap 20's credit we found the capacitive 10-finger sensor to be absolutely fine, and the viewing angle of the screen - while not exactly world-beating - adequate for just about every task you might throw at it, whether stood on the kickstand or, excitingly, laid flat on a surface.

Another corner has been cut at the top of the screen, where the webcam resides. It has a paltry resolution of 1MP (or 0.9MP if you're using it at the same 16:9 aspect ratio as the screen) and produces mucky, washed out images. This is far from brilliant, considering that the curvature of the case will make clipping on a replacement quite difficult.

Sony Vaio Tap 20 review

Sony deserves a lot of credit for leaving that case relatively open, though. Pulling off the panel at the back of the unit reveals the battery, memory slots and more, all ripe for upgrading.

This is important because Sony isn't, at this point, offering any kind of configuration options in the UK or Australia. It's Core i5, 6GB RAM or nothing in the UK. In Australia you may only buy a Core i5 4GB RAM option. In the US, you can buy the Core i5 4GB RAM model or upgrade to a Core i7 8GB RAM version for $1,199.99.

We might also have secured that panel slightly, given that the Sony Vaio Tap 20 is the sort of machine that will end up in the hands of kids and it's only secured with plastic pegs in rubberised holes. Realistically the youngsters won't be lifting its 5kg bulk up very much, though.