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Review + videos: 3 convertible Windows laptops try to be all devices to all people

Brian Nadel | March 12, 2014
We look at three Windows 8.1 convertibles that can transform into laptops, tablets or presentation devices, and try to discover how useful they really are.

In tablet mode, the system is wedge-shaped, and it has a 0.5-inch lip to grab onto without accidentally touching the screen. Still, the Fit 11a felt awkward in the hand, particularly when held vertically. On the other hand, this gives the tablet a nice 5-degree tilt when it's on a tabletop, making it very finger friendly.

The 11.6-in. screen can show 1920 x 1080 resolution, second best to the XPS's ultra-high-definition display; I found it midway between the other two convertibles in terms of brightness. It is not made of Gorilla Glass, as are the XPS 11 and Revolve G2, but the screen is scratch resistant.

At a Glance

Sony Vaio Fit 11A | Flip PC

SonyPrice: $799Pros: Three computing personalities, includes pressure-sensitive stylus, relatively inexpensive, useful screen lockCons: Volume control covered in laptop mode, no Trusted Platform Module

As with the others, the Fit 11a's screen can interpret up to 10 independent touch inputs. Sony includes a slim stylus made by N-trig that weighs 0.6 oz. It is precise and can interpret 256 levels of pressure (although it uses a relatively hard to-find AAAA battery). I liked the stylus — it was comfortable, quite accurate and much better than the HP stylus or an off-the-shelf one.

The Fit 11a comes with a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, an audio connection, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an NFC connection spot on the bottom. It doesn't come with an Ethernet port or a Trusted Platform Module.

At $800, the Fit 11a is a bargain. Unlike the others, there are no other configurations for this display size: it is offered only with the Pentium quad-core N3520 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Sony does sell larger Flip laptops with 13.3-in., 14-in. and 15.5-in. screens.

Test results

The Fit 11a's score of 909.0 on the PerformanceTest benchmark was less than half that of the Revolve G2, but I was still impressed that it did so well, considering its less powerful hardware. For writing, Web excursions and even some gaming, the Fit 11a should be more than enough, but may disappoint on more processor-intensive tasks, like video editing.

On CineBench's processor tests, the Fit 11a scored an impressive 146 points, only 7% behind the XPS 11, which has a more powerful processor. Unlike the Revolve G2 and the XPS 11, the Fit 11a uses Intel's HD Graphics accelerator and as a result was able to complete the CineBench graphics tests; it had a midrange result of 2.3 frames per second.

Its battery life of three hours and 32 minutes, timed after continuously playing videos, was acceptable but unimpressive compared to the Revolve G2. I estimate that this means the Fit 11a should last for about seven hours of normal use with some power management. Unlike the Revolve G2, you can't change the battery.

 

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