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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

At a starting price of $1100, the Duo 11 is not an inexpensive investment. That's a challenge, considering all the compromises the hardware makes. Looking at it one way, the Duo 11 is a highly mobile laptop that can double as tabletbut when you use it as a tablet, you really notice its weight. Looking at it another way, this device is a tablet with a nifty integrated keyboardbut the keyboard isn't very good. And the display is excellentexcept for the noise we saw in video playback.

In the end, it's a great indicator for the larger potential of 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.

Pros:  Excellent, high-resolution multitouch display. Lightweight, even for an Ultrabook.

Cons:  Extremely limited keyboard and pointing device. Performance lags behind that of other Ultrabooks.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Price:  $1099

Final thoughts

Now that I've had a chance to more closely examine systems designed to work well with Windows 8, the possibilities inherent in Microsoft's new operating system are even more intriguing. What's still unclear, however, is how well the new OS will fare on more standard types of PCs.

The next few months of product reviews will answer many questions. A whole host of new PCs are on the way, some offering only minor spins on old recipes, and others attempting what Sony is trying with these new systems: to reinvent the personal computer as we know it. Success is by no means assured, but I'm more interested in seeing these fascinating experiments than looking at a never-ending assembly line of clamshell designs.

Bring it on.


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