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Sony Duo 11 Ultrabook review: Blurring the line between tablet and laptop

Loyd Case | Oct. 15, 2012
Unpacking the Sony Duo 11 (aka the SVD1123CXB) reveals what appears to be a tablet; no keyboard is immediately visible. Yet when you pick it up, it seems a little hefty for a tablet. What's going on here? Well, the Duo 11 is not just a tablet. Lifting up the top edge tilts the display and reveals a sliding keyboard hidden beneath the panel.

Network connectivity consists of a retractable gigabit ethernet connector, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Duo 11 also incorporates Intel's WiDi technology for wireless display on HDTVs, provided that the large screen has the appropriate external adapter or built-in WiDi capability.

Unlike many Ultrabooks, the Duo 11 supports memory expansion. It ships with 6GB of fast DDR3; 4GB are fixed, while a SODIMM socket accommodates one more memory module. The maximum supported memory is 8GB.

As you might expect with a tablet device, front and back cameras are built in, both offering 2.4-megapixel sensors. The audio quality is surprisingly good for such a tiny system, relatively clean and balanced when Dolby Home Theater v4 is enabled. Zero bass content is present, however, so the best listening experience is still through headphones or external speakers.

Bottom line

At a starting price of $1100, the Duo 11 is not an inexpensive investment. It's a highly mobile laptop that behaves more like a tablet, but with laptop underpinnings. The machine is a tad heavy for a tablet, though the sliding keyboard adds limited convenience. The display is excellent, except for the noise we noticed in video playback. In the end, the Duo 11 is a superb vehicle for Windows 8, and if you need an ultracompact laptop that's usable mostly as a tablet, it's worth a closer look. But most users may shy away when they see the price.

 

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