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Sony reaches the Windows 8 finish line first with two quirky tablets

Loyd Case | Oct. 15, 2012
Windows 8 launches in exactly two weeks on October 26. The big day is imminent. The anticipation is palpable. Yet until two quirky devices from Sony arrived a few days ago, we hadn't yet put our hands on final, reviewable Windows 8 hardware.

Bottom line

The Tap 20 is an unusual product. It's relatively underpowered as a desktop system, but its strong suit is as a shared family PC, with the ability to be easily moved around the home. And its potential as a shared gaming device is impressive. However, it wouldn't be very rewarding as a productivity machine, and the lack of MPEG-2 playbackmore a Windows 8 problem than Sony'smakes it an imperfect entertainment system.

In many ways, the Tap 20 showcases both the good and the bad of Windows 8. Its seamless integration with the Windows 8 user interface shows off Microsoft's new operating system at its best, but the lack of capabilities that users have come to expect, such as MPEG-2 playback, is oddly jarring. When you use this machine with native Windows 8 apps, it excels, but the uninspired keyboard and mouse make desktop use more of a chore than it needs to be.

The Tap 20 is undeniably cool, but some of its finer details need to be fleshed out. Still, at about $880, it's not all that expensive, particularly if you consider that it's both a small all-in-one and a really big tablet.

Pros: Excellent interface and system ergonomics. Included battery turns the Tap 20 into a big tablet.

Cons: Performance is lacking. Has only two USB ports, and lacks WiDi capability.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Price:  $880

From desktop to mobile

What's the difference between a tablet and a laptop? When reviewing the Sony Duo 11, I had to repeatedly ask myself that question, because the Duo 11 blurs the lines between the two form factors.

Unlike Microsoft's upcoming Surface productswhich are squarely, unequivocally tabletsSony and many other manufacturers are aiming for hybrid devices. In one mode the Duo 11 is a tablet. In the other mode, it's a laptop. So the question becomes: Does it do well at either? Let's find out.

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

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 isn't just a tablet. Lifting up the top edge tilts the display, revealing a sliding keyboard hidden beneath the panel.

Welcome to the world of Windows 8 sliders. The Duo 11 keeps its keyboard tucked underneath the tablet's bottom chassisit's there when you need it, but you can hide it away when you don't.

The Duo 11 weighs in at 2 pounds, 13 ounces, decidedly on the light side for an Ultrabook. The 11.6-inch screen offers a full 1920-by-1080-pixel IPS touchscreen panel that provides good image quality and color fidelity. Sony also built a full Wacom digitizer into the touchscreen, complete with a stylus supporting 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. Artists will appreciate the digitizer, but Sony didn't think to include a slot to store the stylus in the body of the unit, so you'll need to keep track of it as you travel.

 

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