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Review: Sony Vaio Tap 11 - The Windows 8 tablet to beat

When you pick up Sony’s Vaio Tap 11, you can’t help but feel that it is a direct competitor to Microsoft’s Surface line of devices. A few different OEMs have already tried to cut out their spot with devices similar to the Surface, but none have yet to hit the mark. Sony on the other hand, might have a winner, and one outstanding product.


Great design and external aesthetics make for an elegant machine. Stylus works excellent and couples well with included “holder” attachment. Keyboard works great and integrated charging with the tablet means you will never forget to charge it. Display is beyond the description of mortal English – we will call it outstanding and amazing all at once. Includes apps are a nice touch and give the tablet software that makes it stand out. 


Poor positioning for the stylus holder. Longer battery life would have been desired. Buttons around the edges can feel too recessed and hard to press.


The Sony Vaio Tap 11 is the best Windows 8 tablet we have reviewed to date and is a guaranteed great experience for anyone who purchases it. Its main competition will be the Surface Pro 2, and we might be siding with Sony on this unit. We hope more Windows 8 tablets are created in the image of the Tap 11 as it is a great deal starting at only $799.

Form - The Tablet

Unboxing Sony’s Vaio Tap 11 is like unraveling a piece of fine art. There are multiple pieces to the unit including the tablet itself, a wireless keyboard, and a digitizer pen attachment. All three pieces can be snapped together on the go, so there is no worry about losing that expensive stylus.

The tablet itself feels as if it was designed with attention to almost every detail. The front of the unit houses a gorgeous 11.6 inch 1080p IPS display that is complemented by a beautiful edge to edge glass. The front of the tablet has almost no branding besides the light colored silver logo in the upper left hand corner. Below the touch screen sits a physical hardware Windows button; unlike most other units, which simply plop the button directly below the screen, Sony has placed the button along the edge of the unit and curved it. Between the minimalistic front, curved Windows button, and subtle front facing HD web camera – the unit is a pleasant breathe of artistic design to look at.

Like all beautiful specimens, there is usually a catch or hint of imperfection if you look hard enough. Sony has included a charging connector for their wireless keyboard on the front bezel of the unit, which stands out as a mole would on a face of perfection. The connector is small and sits recessed as a three pin connector against the edge of the unit. When holding the unit, there are no complaints, but one can’t help but feel it would have been nice for Sony to try and find another solution to charge the wireless keyboard.

The back of the unit is also simplistic, and bears a single shinny Vaio logo in the center. Our review unit included a collection of stickers that stated the unit was, “NOT FOR SALE” – obviously something that you will not encounter. You will encounter an “Intel Inside” sticker, but like any stickers – it can be removed with a little work.

The back of the tablet does make itself home to three speaker grills, which produce great sounding audio for such a thin tablet, along with a kickstand that can be extended also perpendicular to the tablet itself – in essence, unlike the Microsoft Surface, there are a variety of different angles to enjoy using this tablet in.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a tablet without also throwing on a rear facing webcam, so Sony has included an 8 MP webcam and microphone for all your recording needs – unfortunately, there is no flash. That being said, please stop recording video and taking pictures with your tablet – it is the new millennia’s equivalent of the 1990s fanny pack in terms of social perception by your peers.

The unit itself has come stocked with a collection of various ports and expandability options around its finally crafted edges. The bottom side of the tablet sits completely clean as one wouldn’t be able to access said ports when using the kickstand on the tablet. The top of the tablet keeps it simple by including a small pinhole microphone jack, exhaust fan, and a small covered slot that would accompany a MicroSD card for expandable storage. One last button is added to the top section of the tablet (although it sits farther, back around the rear), which is Sony’s “assist” button.

We cannot communicate how happy we are that Sony decided to include this assist button. Recovery with Windows 8 can be a tedious and annoying procedure on most other devices. Due to the new UEFI booting system that Windows 8 incorporates, pushing buttons to boot into safe mode is now near impossible – instead you must boot into the Operating system, then reboot it into safe mode. Obviously, this possess a problem for those who cannot even get their machine past the Windows loading screen. A USB key can be used to help access recovery, but many times the BIOS is set to ignore it and a secret button/key combination must be found to get in and mess with the BIOS booting options. The Sony Assist button on the other hand is heaven; simply press the button while the device is off and you are booted to a Sony recovery menu – from there, you can select to boot into the BIOS, launch Sony recovery software, or access advanced Windows 8 startup options (like safe mode).

The majority of ports will be found on the left and right hand sides of the unit. The left hand edge includes a small power adapter charging port and a flap that reveals a USB 3.0 connector and Micro-HDMI port. The right hand edge of the unit includes a volume rocker, illuminated power button, and standard headphone jack. As with many of Sony’s units, the buttons feel too recessed and can take a bit of time before one feels completely confident in their “button clicking skills”. The buttons on this unit, may be the Achilles heel for the Sony Vaio Tap 11.

Form - The Keyboard and Stylus

Let’s move onto the keyboard. Sony’s included wireless Vaio keyboard may just be a compliment to the unit itself or a bit difficult to work on, depending who you are. This full sized QWERTY keyboard has 82 keys with a 1.1mm stroke and 19mm pitch. The keys themselves have a matte finish, which feels nice against the balls of your fingers and provides decent feedback for such a thin construction. For my taste, the keys were a bit too far apart, but I am most likely being nitpicky as I type all day long.

The keyboard also includes a touchpad with a physical click button for left and right clicking. The texture of the pad itself feels great, as do the keys that sit below it. Some might find the buttons a bit too resistant to click, but I did not have that issue.

In the upper right hand corner of the keyboard sits two LEDS (one for CAPs lock and the other for battery charge level), an ON/OFF switch, and the male end of the charging connector that clicks into the front of the unit. The power switch also doubles as a way to disable the touchpad while typing – a much welcomed and quick to access feature.

The rear of the keyboard is a brushed metal finish with a small Sony logo engraved into the corner. There is also a small LED light that lights up when the unit is docked with the tablet and charging. The back is where we also find the biggest flaw of the keyboard – traction. The back is a slippery metal finish that is accompanied by two small plastic feet and two small rubber feet; this combination does not come anywhere near what is needed to keep the keyboard stable on most surfaces (say a polished, non-rustic, wood table or desk). If you are someone who keeps their palms firmly on the palm rest while typing, you shouldn’t have an issue. If you are like most people whose hands fly around the keyboard, you may encounter some slipping. The fix may be as simple as applying something to the back, but we really wish we didn’t have to – we honestly wonder how Sony missed this in the product testing process.

The keyboard also doubles as a cover for the tablet, which is one of the unit’s “prize features”. Simply place the keyboard upside-down over your screen and it magnetically stays in place. The magnets do work nicely, but the keyboard can slip a bit, so carry the unit as if you are carrying two books – the magnets don’t glue the two together. We do enjoy that whenever the keyboard is cover the screen, the LED lights up to inform us that it is being charged by the tablet – a great feature that should ensure your wireless keyboard never runs out of juice.

The last included accessory is Sony’s digitizer pen, which works extremely well with pressure sensitivity within applications such as Microsoft’s Fresh Paint and ArtRage 3. The stylus itself is comfortable to hold, as it mimics the thickness of a high quality writing utensil. The pen itself contains a “triple A” battery within, which gives it a comfortable weight during use. Attached to the pen is a pen clip that functions nicely to keep the pen from rolling away. The overall design is modern, with a space like tip and slanted rear.

Unlike Microsoft’s Surface Pro which makes losing a stylus easy, the Sony Vaio Tap 11 includes an attachable pen holder that sits over the USB and Micro-HDMI ports. If you are someone constantly swapping USB devices in an out, then the positioning of the holder may be an annoyance, but Sony has reassured us that the holder has been improved in the final production model to make it extremely easy to detach and reattach.

Sony did an excellent job on designing the Tap 11 and it may make its mark as one of the most beautiful Windows 8 products to date. The sophisticated and practical design of the unit hits a wonderful sweet spot in our hearts. As far as what could be improved design-wise, we hope Sony reevaluates the external buttons for their next model and finds a different place to attach the pen holder.

Function

Looks aren’t everything though, functionality is just as important – if not more important. Turning on the tablet reveals a stunning 1080 HD display. I wish I could convey the crisp beauty and beautiful colors that the display illuminates. The LCD is backed by Sony’s TRILUMINOS technically, which they say “creates incredibly true, natural shades of colors”. This was the display Windows 8 was created for – this is perfection of imagery. If you are display crazy, nothing will make you happier than the Sony Vaio Tap 11.

We said beauty isn’t everything, and this tablet is ready to defend its worth on both sides of the fence. Our review unit came loaded with a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. Our copy of Windows 8 ran like butter and was able to keep up with everything we threw at it. Applications within the Windows Store? Easy as cake! Windows legacy applications? Have fun!

This certainly isn’t a gaming machine, but it is one hell of a productive tablet. Most people today think they need to grab a Core i7 and 8 GB of RAM to get anything done, but we are at a point of spec overload – Core i5 and 4 GB of RAM is more than enough for most people.

Sony states that the Tap 11's internal Lithium Polymer battery will last up to 5 hours and 45 minutes - in our testing and use, we found that around 4 hours is a more reasonable time frame. The result isn't excellent or poor, but simply sits in the middle of both states. This tablet won't last you through the day, but it shouldn't require a power plug every couple of hours.

If you do need more power and storage, don’t worry. Sony has announced that units with Core i7 processors and up to 512 GB of SSD storage will be available for purchase. There is no increase on that 4 GB of RAM though, so if you are going to be working with multiple Photoshop windows open – you might want to consider another option.

The insanely gorgeous display (seriously, head to a Sony store once these are out and take a gander) coupled with the powerful intervals provide a great everyday experience that is sure to impress the geek within. You will even be able to squeeze in some raiding in World of Warcraft and meet your favorite Microsoft News Editor while doing so (long as you are Horde, of course).

Sony is one of the few companies out there that makes us excited to see what software they have preloaded onto the system. Sure, they throw on a few undesirable applications like Kaspersky Antivirus and the Intel AppUp store, but the rest are usually enjoyable.

Just as previous Sony units have included, the Vaio Tap 11 preinstalls “Album by Sony” and “Music by Sony” – both are excellent alternatives to Microsoft’s built in music player and photo viewer. Sony also includes their Socialife software for checking out what your friends are doing, and provides an interesting alternative (although it needs a bit of work) to other social applications. Sony’s Vaio care software and note software is also bundled into the package.

Now for the exciting additions; for starters, Sony has included an application called “Vaio remote control”, which allows you to control your television with your tablet. That’s right, this tablet has a built in RF module for cable boxes, televisions, DVD players, stereo systems, iPod docks, projectors, and more. The application docks nicely on the side of the screen in the 30/70 ratio and provides a great experience while you watch that latest episode of the Walking Dead and follow along with AMC’s StorySync app.

Sony also includes a piece of software called CamScanner, which works nicely to scan in physical documents to your system. The app works best in well-lit environments, but is also manageable in darker situations. CamScanner can also scan your document for text using OCR technology and save it to the clipboard for later use. We wish the app allowed us to save the scanned documents as PDF files, but saving as an image worked just fine.

Conclusion

Overall the Sony Vaio Tap 11 is an excellent product and one of the best Windows 8 tablet hybrids we have reviewed to date. The exterior is beautiful, and the 1080p HD display shines like none other we have seen before. The kickstand and wireless keyboard make working efficient and enjoyable at the same time. We feel the biggest competitor to the Tap 11 is the Microsoft Surface Pro, and we have to say that we like the Tap 11 much better; it provides a more adjustable kickstand, better screen experience, thinner profile, better pen management, and great extras. One of the main reasons we could see consumers picking the Surface Pro 2 over the Tap 11, is due to the difference in battery life, which is rated an addition two hours.

The Sony Vaio Tap 11 starts at $799 and is available for preorder now via Sony’s web store (opens in new tab). You can choose between choices of a white or black unit (both look great) and expect to have the unit to you by the end of October.

174 Comments
  • Too expensive for my blood
  • A starting price of $799 isn't bad, but you do get what you pay for - and in this circumstance, it’s one damn good machine.
  • I agree with you except for the fact that one, the screen is too small for serious multitasking and two the Keyboad can't be connected to the tablet and it can't be used on a lap. Fujitsu's  Arrows Tab QH77/M would have been the perfect machine for me if it wasn't for the price ;)
  • Meh. I'll get surface 2 instead. Most people won't realize that its not pro because it has office.
  • It's a little disingenuous to compare this directly to the Surface Pro 2 at $799. To get an "equivalent" machine (128 GB SSD, core i5) to the Surface (at $999 for 128 GB SSD) you pay $1099 (and granted, that includes the keyboard). I would argue, as others have, that the Surface type keyboard is superior to that included with the Tap 11. I agree that the Tap 11 is "prettier."
    My question has to do with the digitizer. At Sony's website, the Tap 11 is listed as a capacitive touch screen with digitizer support. How is that different than what the Surface Pro offers? Does the Surface have more points? the same? Also, from what I can gather on the web, the Surface has a higher clock speed for its i5. Can you confirm that?
    I guess what I'm getting at is would it be possible for you guys at WP Central to do a side by side comparison of these two (and maybe add in a couple other options) once they are officially out? Thanks for the detailed review.
  • One more point to add is that by default Sonys includes plain Windows 8.1. If you'd want Windows 8.1 Pro (who wouldn't, especially in a corporate environment due to "join domain" support) it is available for extra $50. Actually, this makes it slightly more expensive than identically configured Surface Pro 2 including keyboard.
  • This one has N-Trig digitizer which is enough reason for me not to buy it, as an unhappy owner of a tablet that had it.
  • N-Trig has closed the gap with Wacom in the last year or so. I have an original Surface and a Duo 13 in the family, and the pen support on the latter is maybe even a little better...but it's probably too close to care much either way. I would say, if you ate otherwise considering the Sony, that you find a place to try it out and see if it is for you. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how good it is.
  • At $799 with vaio tap you get Pentium
  • the thing is that surface has significantly more horse power.  i would personally pick a bay trail tablet over this one.
  • How do you think this compares to the Yoga 2 Pro? I like the larger screen and the "lapability" of the Yoga 2 Pro, but I like the wireless keyboard and lighter size of the Tap 11. The Surface Pro 2 is perhaps a happy medium, but the screen is a little small. It is too bad the Tap doesn't have a true snap)on keyboard or more lap-friendly kickstand. Man, this is a tough choice.
  • Surface Pro 2, Sony Vaio Tap 11 and Dell Venue 11 Pro are on my final list for the next W8.1 devices.  I want a detachable device with i5 Haswell processor.  So far, I think Surface Pro 2 is ahead with all things considered.  I like Vaio Tap 11's screen size and 1.7 lb weight.  But it lags behind SP2 in performance, build quality, accessaries (Dock Station, etc.), lap postition support, Skydrive and Skype free offers, and the lack of Blade support.  The prices for both machine are comparable if the i5 Haswell is selected for the Vaio Tap 11.  I need more time to evaluate the Dell Venue 11 Pro in terms of prices and accessaries while waiting for detail info from Dell.  Hopefully, Best Buy will stock all three machines for demo soon, so I can do hands-on comparison.
  • Well are you saying too expensive as a general (Full) Windows Tablet (to compare to the Surface Pro)? Because if this were RT, yea, I'd think them crazy. But I'm seeing this as a pretty good modrange (as I stare at my 750 Acer laptop fro a year back and switchable graphics).
  • Would you feel the same way if it were an iPad? Just curious.
  • Yes ipads are toys
  • Wonder why people are so much into toys?
  • Funny how people think this is too expensive for a full blood pc, all while the overhyped iPhone 5S is $849.00.
  • I wouldn't pay that for an iPhone either.
  • We can thank tech media over hype.
  • The price is great for the spec. I just cannot imagine buying a tablet with under 5 hours of battery though. Anyone know what the battery life on Surface Pro 2 is supposed to be?
  • The original was around 5 hours, MS said they increased battery life by 75%, so probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-9 hours of solid use.
  • I'm a microsoft rep,and coming back from the surface training, the new ones are incredible. to answer your question the Surface Pro 2 is looking at 7 hours use time, even more on standby. 
  • If you want tablet battery life, get Surface 2. I assume from your comment ... "I just cannot imagine buying a tablet with under 5 hours of battery" ... That you are comparing tablets like the iPad or other Android tablets. You can't compare it with Surface Pro 2. Surface Pro 2 can be compared with a full laptop like the MacBook Air, which gets similar battery. Pro is a full laptop that can run full desktop apps, not an ARM processor tablet that can only run tablet apps. If you want battery to compare with other tablets. You want Surface 2 ... Which you can directly compare with other tablets out there. Saying Surface Pro 2 can't get as much battery as other tablets is like comparing my Dell Latitude to an iPad and saying iPad is superior because battery is over 10 hours.
  • What I don't get is...why is the battery life on the MacBook air(close to 10 hours) superior to surface pro 2 when they have nearly the same specs....is it the touch screen that decreases the battery life? Ran into this article while asking myself this question. http://www.extremetech.com/computing/169055-why-do-windows-pcs-have-such...
  • Still want a surface :P but it looks good lol
  • If it had two more hours of battery life I would certainly get this device it is both thinner and larger I think that 11" range is the sweet sport personally, alas it is an ultra portable and that being so I need at least 6 hours out of it with a stylus and full 86x compatibility. I can't wait to take one of these things to class and be able to grab photos off my DSLR and edit them without connecting to a wall ^^
  • Not only is the default battery time a reason, but the battery-keyboard on top of that makes it an easy choice imo.
  • I dont believe for a second that Sony can beat the Surface Pro build quality.
  • Why? Sony makes some great stuff. I've handled both the Surface Pro and various Sony devices and I think it's possible. Perhaps unlikely to happen, though.
  • Every Sony product I've ever owned from the late 90s to now were either:
    a. Defective out of the box
    b. Did not last longer than a couple of years or had major issues, from normal wear and tear
     
    Glad you like your Sony products, but for me... no thanks.  We're talking from headphones to CD players to gaming systems to laptops.
     
      Oh... just to put it in perspective... all my other electronics in all the same categories never failed like my Sony products have. Yes, some had their issues too, but in all those cases, were due to external factors and just didn't fail from normal usage or broken right out of the box.
  • Have you used a VAIO Z before?
  • I've tried it, yes! But unlike Surface which is going for the tough apperance, Sony like Apple and Samsung is aiming a bit too much on the jewelry style of things. All the polished edges and the emedded alu sides of the Tap 11 makes me doubt the construction a bit. The Surface doesnt flex at all, which i bet you couldnt say with this.
     
    Dont get me wrong, Tap 11 is one of the best designs so far, but if you need a powerful machine for serious work, you would also like it to feel like it could last. I dont get that feeling with the Tap 11. 
  • I've got to agree with you here for sure.  VaporMg is tough to beat. You dont see them dropping the Tapp 11 on stage during their keynote. 
  • I would, but the screen is simply too small.
    That said there's really nothing out there. Kind of dissapointed by the hardware. Was expecting much more of different hardware with haswell and Windows 8.1.
  • Really? I think the hardward selection this season is fantastic. Too much so, in fact, as I'm having a hard tiem choosing between the Surface Pro, the Yoga 2 Pro, the Vaio Flip, the Tap 11, the XPS 11. So many fantastic hybrid / convertible devices! What exactly are you looking for?
  • I so wish there was a Vaio Phone.
  • Xbox live vs psn = sony vs wp
  • Nah. Really? Why Sony be make Window 8. Day no right.
  • Forgotten english, have you?
  • Forgotten sarcasm, have you?
  • 1st off, i didnt mean it spitefully, just in case you thought i was.
     
    2nd, i cant understand sarcasm if the sentence is not a sentence (i dont understand what you even said.)
  • To be fair, that sentence didn't even make sense. I can't detect sarcasm out if gibberish either.
  • I would explain but I'm sure it wouldn't be comprehensible so I won't bother.
  • Well I got it.  But I say let people subscribe to their Electronic Secret Wars fantasies.  Seems to make them feel good in some odd way.
  • I do as well love the Xperia Z1 just put WP on it!!!
  • Thanks for the review, Mike. Do you know if they will be making a docking station for it?
  • That's one of my biggest questions also. I am going to double check with Sony, but I believe the answer as of now is "no".
  • Thx
  • i'm curious about performance. since it is so thin, i'm guessing they are using the lower power haswell which doesn't require a fan to cool it. how does this device compare to the surface when running desktop games and more powerful applications?
  • The review specifically mentions a fan exhaust along the top edge
  • Would be curious to know how well the kickstand holds the tablet up when tapping at the corners and edges.  Looks like a good competitor for the Surface Pro 2.  If only I could sell my Surface Pro to get close enough to get this or the Surface Pro 2.
  • Very well. The kickstand is extremely sturdy - like a rock. We were very impressed.
  • Yeah but doesn't that small kickstand make it impossible to use on a lap?
  • The surface pro 2 seems to have better "lapability" though. (I hate that word as much as I hate Retina"
  • In some circumstances. The keyboard seems better suited to lap use than the whole Surface + keyboard
  • How so? Sony's keyboard has a smooth back so it will constantly be slipping off your lap, whereas the Surface's cloth-backed keyboards stay put, no matter what sort of chair you are sitting in. I think Surface comes out way in front on this point. The other thing I don't like about the Tap 11's keyboard is that you have to worry about it staying charged.
  • There's no way you're using this on your lap.  That skinny little kickstand?  No way.
  • No microSDs slot, IMO a weak looking kickstand, the keyboard/cover looks a lot less 'fluid' and being detached is just 'meh'. HDMI instead of Displayport video out and I am willing to bet there is no separate 600DPI digitizer for the pen here. The fact Surface Pro 2 is expected to have about 50% more battery life is icing on the cake.
     
    The keyboard looks just horrible and slippery, the way it connects is just silly and ony way to charge is to snap it on and that means you can't use the tablet.. Really? ANd the way the tablet wobbles around when using the pen is another nogo.. Looks so cheap..
     
    The cost they cut to get a $200 lower pricepoint are rather major so I'll take Surface Pro over this one any day..
  • Specs say it has a microSD slot:  http://store.sony.com/vaio-tap-11-tablet-pc-zid27-SVT11215CX//cat-27-cat...
  • Re-read the review. The unit has a Micro SD card slot, along with one the best kickstands we have ever used.
  • Yes, but it won't work as a laptop replacement.
  • You do have to understand, that your statement is an opinion. I think that a lot of people will find this 11-inch machine with a Core i5 CPU as a great everyday machine. It all depends on how you use it.
  • What? No. That thing has a one inch thick kickstand and a keyboard that doesn't attach to the tablet, it's not going to work in your lap, hence it's not a laptop replacement.
  • I suppose you're right about that, as long s we're specifically talking about lap use. Many people use the word "laptop" to mean portable computer, though notebook is really the correct term nowadays.
  • I think you r frickin 12, this tablet is suppose to compete with surface pro 2 & it sure is.
  • That's not a polite or compelling response to what he said.
  • It compelled me :) ...to have a lower opinion of james v.
  • is this really a problem for most people? if you are a road warrior type and have to do a lot of typing on your lap because there aren't any tables available, these devices won't work for you. i personally found that before tablets became popular, i would only browse or check email on my lap. if i had to do any typing, this is exactly how i use these hybrid devices. i use them in tablet mode on my lap and move to a table when i need to type. i believe most people will find a coffee shop or restaurant table when they are typing, even if the have a laptop. i've even read there are many people that setup shop at cafes, using the the free wifi to do their work and basically ise it as an office.
  • Im confused, is the keyboard included in the $799 price?
  • Yes it is!
  • Yes, but a proper core processor is not :(
  • Yes, but you will be getting an inferior Pentium processor at that price.
  • I'll keep my Surface pre order.
  • Same here.
  • Me too. I think the forthcoming dock is enough to clinch it but I also think the Tap 11's kickstand is too narrow to be useful anywhere but on a table/desk and battery life is nothing short of woeful for a Haswell powered machine. I don't like the idea of a wireless keyboard, either (I already have several of those to choose from). I'd definitely like to see a side-by-side comparison next week, though.
  • Nice looking device. One thing I thought of while watching the review; how well would it work in one's lap with the narrow kickstand centered on the device?
    I guessing not to well.
  • 799$? A big negative on that ghost rider.
  • Why? That's actually really cheap in the market. Surface Pro 2 starts from 899 and this includes keyboard. Pro 2 doesn't.
    Granted 799 Tap version does come with Pentium, not core.
  • Surface Pro 2's price is too high as well. These products are still being prices as though a touch screen is a novelty rather then a standard.
  • No they aren't. My Surface Pro 2 with TypeCover has cost me $1649 (Australian dollars). If I was to go and buy an ultrabook with similar specs - Core i5, 8Gb RAM, 256Gb SSD, 1080 screen - I'd be up for similar money if I wanted a premium device to match the quality of Surface. Sure, I could get a full-size notebook cheaper but that's missing the point.
  • Specs are specs. If having some sort of aesthetic appeal is a requirement for you then,go ahead and spend whatever extra you want for that. To me, if it worms, it works. So one could easily built an ultra book with similar specs. Clearly the "premium quality" wasn't enough to save the original Surface from the deathbed it lay in.
  • would you mind pointing me to this ultrabook that has a 1080p IPS touchscreen, wacom digitizer, 128ssd drive, haswel core i5 and costs a lot less. i've seen some that have some similar specs and cost $200 less, but the have worse build quality and usually an inferior acreen.
  • As I said, a novelty price is being charged for the touch screen matrix.
  • Sony Vaio Pro 13, it has obviously the best display of all current Ultrabooks/tablets/Surface, also it has faster processor than the Surface Pro and it doesn't cost much more than the Surface Pro. It has: 13 inch Full HD + IPS + Triluminos + ClearType touchscreen, so it has gorgeous display <3
    Intel Haswell i7 processor (overally better CPU than Surface Pro (2).
    7 hours battery, can be upgraded to 14 hours battery life just as Macbook Air
    128GB SSD
    Most lightest Ultrabook
    Much better and beautiful keyboard/design Imo. I would never choose a Surface Pro (2) instead of Vaio Pro 13.
  • Considering that Surface RT and Atom based Windows tablets are selling for < $400, I think it's pretty clear the price of this product is not based on a "novelty touch screen." 
    What you seem to be missing is that these tablets/hybrids are a full PC in a tablet form factor running the full version of Windows.  They can work as a tablet, a laptop, or even a multi-monitor desktop if connected to a docking station.  All of those devices seperately would cost thousands of dollars.  You aren't going to get that level of hardware for the price of a normal tablet.  For that matter, you aren't going to get an iPad for less than that price. The cheapest 128GB iPad is $799 and that is just slow eMMC flash storage compared to the SATA/SSD storage in this class of hybrids.
  • I am not missing that at all. Tablets running fill windows are actually the only things I am interested. And I fail to see where the iPad plays into anything. We're talking about Windows 8 tablets.
  • at the price point you want you will only get an atom device. i haven't seen a single review showing how well these devices work running desktop apps. My experience with atom processors has been that anything above a basic desktop app is unusable.Baytrail is better than the atom processors I've used, but I think they are still a poor choice for running dektop apps.I bet that most people who buy these baytrail devices because they are full windows will end up using them in exactly the same way that RT is being used.
  • Looks like a great machine but with that skinny flip out stand you can't use it on your lap like a laptop or a surface.
  • I'm not saying it's not worth the price, but it simply won't succeed at $799. Still, glad Sony made such a great product.
    The problem for OEMs is that they won't be able to build premium products like this and be profitable. Microsoft can because they are going to make money on the services.
  • "the unit is a pleasant breathe of artistic design to look at."
    "Obviously, this possess a problem"
    "which is rated an addition two hours."
     
    Watch that proofreading ;) Good review otherwise.
  • Actually, I got the impression the review was done by someone who doesn't speak English as a first language so I was happy to overlook that stuff.
  • I'm sure the screen looks nice, good competitor to Surface Pro 2...but better ?...hmmmm....that stand doesn't look too sturdy to me, keyboard covers screen to charge and lack of microSD?...ill still be picking up a Pro2. Still, excellent for consumers to have options.
  • Specs say it has a microSD: http://store.sony.com/vaio-tap-11-tablet-pc-zid27-SVT11215CX//cat-27-cat...
  • I guess the analog-digital representation should be other way round.
  • I'm sure that Sony quickly rejected branding their PC's as Iova, and instead opted for the much better soudning Vaio. :P
  • You wrote "ascetics" but you meant "aesthetics". Very funny typo, if you know what ascetics means... not so sure anyone would buy a device that's ascetic. :-P
  • It's a very complex tablet, haha. Thanks, I'll fix that typo! :)
  • Gotta be selfless and virtuous!
  • Review the Asus t100! Seems like a really good deal for a hybrid
  • It's a really nice tablet at first glance, but Sony never really seem to nail it in the end, in my opinion. The kickstand is just horrible (a three legged dog is bound to fall), the sliding keyboard is a stupid oversite (why not make it rubberized instead?), and their apps design don't really fit in on Windows, especially the tile design. The overall details are just not there.
     
    Sidenote: Did you know that Sony are not releasing their Smartglass copy app for the PS4 on Windows 8 and Windows Phone? They are not even supporting their own Windows tablets.
  • I have been looking into this tablet since it was announced. It looks really nice! I think I'll go with the Sony VAIO Multi Flip laptop, though.
  • Great except for lack of wacom support and flimsy kickstand (at least compared to the surface)
  • It has an n-trig digitizer. It's not wacom, but still gives you good pen input.
  • One reviewer said he noticed the screen has a dark "shadow" when viewed in slight angle in potrait mode, did you notice that? And is palm rejection working properly on this unit?
  • I just cannot understand why Sony and Microsoft will not even make 4G LTE an option on their tablets. It appears LTE is available on this tablet overseas. Tethering is just too inconvenient in many situations, and it is not available for AT&T unlimited data plans. Why make it available overseas but not even an option in US?
  • Dell made the XPS 10 with LTE option.
  • LTE is coming for Surface. 1st quarter 2014.
  • Microsoft has announced LTE is coming for Surface 2, but not Surface Pro 2.
  • Only problem I see is battery life. No way I'm buying any tablet with less than 6 hours. My wife's Samsung 700t, a first generation Win 8 core i5 tablet gets over 7 hours and is a skinny, lightweight solution with a beautiful screen and workable keyboard. I have yet to see something really top it. Now it was $1,200 or so but where are the Haswell super tablets?
  • This tablet does reach 7 hours. Because my i7 Haswell Ultrabook with 13 inch Full HD touchscreen, Sony Vaio Pro 13, reach the 7 hours. I don't believe that a smaller tablet with identical specs like the new Surface Pro 2 doesn't reach the 7 hours.
  • I still have my heart dead set on a Surface Pro 2, but this is still incredible, Microsoft's original vision being realized. They made the Surface to spur competitors to come up with innovative and creative designs that realize the true power of Windows 8, and finally, it's here. A true, worthy competitor to the Surface. This is incredible, it makes the market better with more high quality devices, and the competitive aspect of course only benefits consumers. This is a great day, great day indeed. I'm still buying myself a Surface, but competition is always a good thing. It causes price reductions, innovations to be made, and increases how much a company cares about user feedback. The consumer ultimately wins, in the end. Hurray for Sony! Hurray for Microsoft! Hurray for Windows 8, and hurray for consumers!
  • This is exactly what I was coming in to say. The fact that this tablet is a worthy competitor to, maybe even better than, the surface pro means that ms's vision for the surface as a reference design and market agitator is working. It has given suppliers the swift kick in the arse they need. I would also argue that Sony VAIO flip, while a different form factor, is also another sign of innovation in the market to solve the same problem that the surface seeks to address. I wont be buying this or the surface pro (and I hope both Sony and ms realize how smart it would be to make a clamshell detachable keyboard) but it's certainly inspiring for the ecosystem.
    I also think the other poster's point about pricing is a problem that still needs a solution. I don't consider it or the surface pro expensive, but the general consumer will
  • "The fact that this tablet is a worthy competitor to, maybe even better than, the surface pro means that ms's vision for the surface as a reference design and market agitator is working."
     
    It's hardly a competitor, it's a lower spec/end machine which is relatively overpriced. IMO it has some serious issues for anything but tabletop use to start with.
     
    It has a lesser spec CPU to begin with a dual core Pentium i5 instead of a quad core Core i5, HDMI out instead of a (dual screen) displayport out, a wobbly (IMO) keyboard and far less usable kickstand (do not see anyone use this on one's lap or while in bed).
  • You're talking spec for spec, I'm talking market segment and consumer perception. It's a competitor.
  • "I don't consider it or the surface pro expensive, but the general consumer will". This is precisely why MS will continue with the ARM-based Surface, which represents amazing value when compared to iPad.
  • Bay Trail.
  • And this is why the Surface was created.  To show OEM's how it's done.
  • This is OS, as usual, but it has to do with W8.. Does anyone here have trouble syncing POP email accounts to the modern mail application❔
  • You write a review on a tablet with a core i5 processor then say starting at $799. The only one with a core i5 processor Is $1099,99 At least you said the review unit had a core i5 and not just the tablet.
  • Sony needs to hurry up and make a Windows Phone!
  • Nokia with android would look terrible, HTC one with wp would look ok, Sony Z with live tiles everywhere would look pretty nice
  • Only because you're conditioned to think that. Try thinking outside the box.
  • Only when Windows Phone has most marketshare. Xbox is competing against Playstation.
  • As long as Playstation exist, Sony will never make a Windows Phone.
  • The only thing I don't like is the kickstand for my lap. I can have the Surface standing on my lap no problem, but this won't work for me.
  • They're saying it's a notebook now, not a laptop :| i didn't know that notebooks were un"lap"able
  • Yeah, the Sony kickstand would fall right in your vagina
  • So this should never be called a laptop......nor should it be called a tablet??.......it seems a bit like a jack of all trades, master of none? I may be wrong of course
  • The master of none issue has been keeping me from getting one of these new hybrid devices. I think it comes down to the user and how they use the device: for some it can be perfectly versatile and for others fall very short. I think next fall we are going to see some very refined devices that really fit the bill- not just from MS but from Asus, Sony, etc. I really feel like there will be some traction in the W8.1 tablet hybrid market as people begin to notice the tremendous value these devices offer while giving them a full OS with the ability to do real work.
  • Yeah... Welcome to hybrids... Or go back to Apple.
  • When I started reading the review, I was concerned I made a mistake in ordering Surface Pro 2, but 'lapability', no wacom support and poor battery life trump a bigger screen, thinner profile and nice design. My SP2 order shipped yesterday and I can't wait for it to arrive.
     
    That said, hats off to Sony for making such a lovely machine.
     
     
  • Nice design is subjective apparently. The Engadget review points out poor build quality, cheap materials (the Tap 11 is entirely made of cheap plastic) and bad fit and finish on several aspects of the tablet. This review also fails to mention what you get at the various price points.
    Judging from the number of typos in this review alone, I'm more inclined to side with the reviewer at Engadget. Basically, you should only choose the Tap 11 if a more flexible kickstand and a thinner profile trump everything else.
  • You're making me feel even better! Just read the Engadget review and I'll definitely take VaporMG over plastic and the less-than-the-best fit and finish of the tap 11. I think this review is quite disingenuous not to let folks know that the low price point comes with low-end hardware and that the review unit is coming in at the same price point as the Surface Pro 2 128. Dollar for dollar, it's a no-brainer. Better materials, processor, battery life, pen input and kickstand.
  • This is really good for MS that partners are stepping up their quality. Even if this cannibalizes sales of the surface it is better to have people buying W8 devices than IOS or android (a win win for MS). I believe the surface pro 2 has factory calibrated screens and so id like to see how it compares to the Sony. But like the review mentions, I think the battery life makes the pro 2 more attractive for a lot of people.
  • No docking station
    Massive fail!
  • Exactly.
    A powerful machine like this or the surface pro 2 make only sense with a docking station. Without that a laptop or a rt version would be my choice.
  • Yeh dell got it right with the venue pro 11
    And choice of baytrail or core i5
    Docking station only $99 so they are going to sell loads!
    Ticks all boxes Shame Sony missed this obvious point, what were they thinking!!??
  • There are universal docking station s out there such as Toshiba dynadock. I won't buy any proprietary docks now coz if I change or upgrade, the Toshiba will still work
  • No need Wacom, not an artist or so. I have laptop(they call it laptop), never use it on lap. Fine with the kickstand. Surface 2 chance on my country? Less likely. Vaio Tap 11 on my country? Most likely. $799 full package? Oh lol. Conclusion: O HAI SONY!
  • Don't forget the vaio is plastic instead of a magnesium alloy
  • I'd like to have a YOGA with this price.
  • Ok, isn't really comparable, that's the size of a notebook or netbook.
  • This thing looks awesome, only it is impossible to use on your lap. The surface works great on your lap because the stand hoes across horizontally and is supported by both knees. The keyboard is attached and rigid, giving you a typing surface. With this thing, the stand would not work on your lap. The stand would go between your knees. I don't think they thought this thing out very well. It gets rid of lots of usage scenarios just because of the center thin kickstand.
  • This one looks like the one for me although I'll be forking out the extra cash for the Core i7-4610Y that's clocked at 1.7 Ghz with a turbo boost of 2.9 Ghz for when I need to edit RAW images and do some other CPU intensive tasks. 11.6" is the bare minimum for me being productive in those tasks because trying to get real work done like coding in Visual Studio on a 10.6" screen feels more like an eye test. This is where my personal definition of laptop replacement comes in as I should be able to run full Windows at a tolerable level of performance and UI scaling as well take it with me every where i go without it being a hassle. It may not be for everybody but this one's for me.
     
    The included wireless keyboard looks great. It's physically more spaced out than the cramped Surface Type cover because it's covering an 11.6" screen instead of a 10.6" screen. Moreover function keys are primary, the media keys are secondary and the Fn key is on the side of the keyboard i'm accustomed to. If you live coding in Visual Studio like I do this is incredibly nice. I've got a developer friend using a SP1 and Type Cover so i've heard how annoying needing two hands to use key commands to start an app or refresh a web page is.  Also the normal placement of the Fn key makes the Home/End/Page Up/Page Down more intuitive and easy to use than hunt around for it on the Type Cover.
     
    Lapability is not the real concern for me since i don't type on my current laptop in my lap and don't often find myself in situations where that's a requirement. I'm looking for lightness and portability. The bigger concern for me is what do with the cover in those situations where i just want to use it as a tablet when i'm on the go because it doesn't fold behind like the Type Cover so it becomes something i just have to lay to the side.
    Still it's significantly thinner than the Surface Pro 2 and significantly lighter which is something to say given that it's got a bigger screen. plastic is light than magnersium so at 1.7 pounds and slim as opposed to chunky the reviewers have said it's much more hand-holdable than the Surface Pro 2 so you're trading ruggedness for being able to more comfortably use it actually as a tablet.  A downside is the HD4200 graphics on the Y-series as opposed to HD4400 of the U-series so you're accepting a hit there but i don't do a lot of PC gaming.
    Battery life is another downside. It is on the short side but not intolerable. I'd certainly trade a little more weight for battery life but depending on your actual usage though you be able to stretch it some more as PC Pro got almost 9 hours in a "light use" test that they say the original Surface Pro got less than 6 hours in.
     
    Also the IR blaster looks like it's going to complement my plans to use Miracast/WiDi in my home theater.
     
  • For those who've expressed concerns about having to charge the keyboard and finding yourself in a situation where you can't use your Tap 11 because it's charging the keyboard well at least according to multiple Sony reps i saw in videos from IFA the wireless keyboard should last about 30 days on a single charge. Even if it turns out to be ONLY 7 days i'm going to have my keyboard cover on the Tap 11 overnight some time within that time period so this a non-issue for me.
    What'd be more annoying is the $60 Surface wireless adapter with separate batteries that is a separate piece i need to keep up with whenever i would want to go wireless (which is most evenings on my couch)
  • Thanks for this info. That was a big question I had: how long would the wireless keyboard last. If I had to stop working to charge it, that would be a deal breaker. If it really lasts 30 days (I doubt it) that would be phenomenal, but even if it lasted just a few days, that would be fine, as you point out, since everyone will be charging it overnight.
    Honestly, if it weren't for the strange kickstand design and placement (preventing usage as an actual 'laptop'), I'd cancel my Yoga 2 Pro order right now and get this lighter Tap 11, but I think not being able to use this on my lap would be a huge problem that would annoy me to no end.
  • I'd like to know what makes the screen so great other than vivid colors and high resolution. Does it have excellent contrast, color gamut and brightness? How bad is the glare? Does it appear smooth on solid colors or is it grainy like the Vaio Z? Is there backlight bleed on dark backgrounds? I see a lot of glow from the top and bottom edges so I'm thinking it does have worse than average bleed because you can't usually see it in pictures.
  • Nice specs but the bezels are a bit thicker than the surface which is for some people annoying
  • Dell Venue 11 Pro it is then!
  • People seem to be forgetting the Surface Pro's biggest strength: it's the hardware ecosystem, stupid! What other computer out there has a line of its own branded accessories, like dock, car charger, keyboard covers, DJ cover, display adapters, etc.? Surface really is the spiritual successor to the Zune HD. No manufacturer out there will get even this close to a commitment to a single product as Microsoft is with Surface.
  • You are right. One can only hope Microsoft is able to tell the world about it.
  • +1
  • I like this device but will be getting Surface Pro 2. For me main reason is that Surface Pro 2 can handle my development environment so it becomes a true back up yo desk top and at the same time my mobile machine and tablet.
  • "A few different OEMs have already tried to cut out their spot with devices similar to the Surface, but none have yet to hit the mark." Erm... You have heard of the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, right? in raw specs, it would wipe the floor with it. Yes it is more expensive, but kinda statements are blatantly wrong :)
  • Slight typo in the review: it says "powerful intervals" instead of "powerful internals".
  • I didn't see the sound/noise of the fan being mentioned. The same with the surface pro 2.
    A loud tablet would be such a big no-go whatsoever. I was very disappointed how noisy my last vaio z was - a machine that cost me 1800 euros. You can read complaints about loud vaios pretty often.
    So what about the Tap 11? And does anybody know about the surface pro 2?
  • So where have all the people gone spewing Haswell would revolutionize battery life? News flash - Haswell is bringing moderate battery improvement at the expense of less powerful turbo boost performance. In other words, it is offering what anyone not drinking Intel coolaid should have expected. BTW, with a lower peak speed processor, the battery life of this device absolutely sucks. It is more than outdone by the original Surface Pro.
  • The next generation of Intel chips called Broadwell has a 30% improved battery life
    They are coming in Q1 OR Q2 2014
    might be a bit more reasonable on battery times
  • Haswell has had a massive impact on battery life. It is the main reason why the Surface Pro 2 lasts ~7 hours vs. ~3 for the original Surface Pro. Performance has increased (a small amount) on like processors. The only place when you would see a decrease in performance on a new chip vs. an old chip would be if the manufacturer opted for a lower level chip in order to get an even bigger battery gain, but that would not be a like-for-like chip swap. Like-for-like, new chips are slightly more powerful in terms of performance and much better in terms of power consumption.
  • Still say Surface Pro 2 is the tablet to beat. You can't use that kickstand on your lap at all.
  • Its made of plastic, the Tap 11 starts at $799 with an Intel Pentium 3560Y processor, a core i5 costs $1100 same as pro 2 with keyboard. Pro 2 is still a better deal. The vapormg is just cool
  • Michael Archambault,
    Somone mentioned fan noise above I'd really like to get your take on how noisy the Tap 11 is under normal web browsing usage as well as under heavy load.
    I've seen a number of reviews on the Tap 11 and none of them mention heat as a problem at all except for a single review by Laptop Magazine which said it got up to an uncomfortable 99 degrees fahrenheit on its backside after streaming Hulu videos for 15 minutes. I'd like to know if you experienced any heat issues with the pre-production model that you reviewed.
  • No thanks.  Some of do real work and do need the 8GB of RAM.  Without the additional RAM and battery life, it may be good but it is not great.  if all you do is office and surf the web, 4Gb is plenty, and at that point why not just get an RT or Surface. 
    Still happy with my Surface Pro 2 choice
  • The one thing about this tablet that I am not a fan of is its kickstand.... you can't use it anywhere but on a table. I would like to use the tablet on my lap aswell.. anyone else feel the same way?
  • Im surprised you didn't mention it has GPS, this is what might win out over the SP2 for me
  • A baytrail would be more than enough for the x86 requiring games I play. Photoshop elements -should- also run relatively well on it. These are my main priorities. But also the plethora of non processing intensive desktop programs.
  • I just wondering why you couldn't find a better camera to take pictures of the device with...given the Lumias available...these pictures are too dark to actually see anything like buttons which you actually admit by annotations on the photos!
  • Lovely, but that kickstand... Lol.
  • So the display is, wait for it, out-mazing!
  • VAIO = Means analog/digital. But why (in the video review of the tablet) is the reviewer pointing to the wave as digital and I O as analog!!??!!
  • Is the short battery life due to the wireless connectivity to the keyboard? So if i turn that off battery improves? Don't understand why this one is so short on battery!
  • Just got my pro 2, 8gb ram 512gb haswell, love it, goodbye pro 1 and shit battery life.
  • Oh, these are nice looking units! Gonna wait a few weeks before deciding but a white Sony Windows tab would sure be nice!
  • Great reveiw and mostly valid comments.  I've been spying (almost lusting after) this Tap 11 since I first heard about it. It's got everything (just about): 11.6 screen which is the smallest you really want for productivity in the MS Office Environment, Incredible Screen, and Digital Ink.  But I have now decided that I just cant buy it because of the non-lapability.  The appeal at least to me of Windows Tablets / Hybrids / Convertibles (can we please come up with a common term) is the combination of ultra portability and convergence of consumption & creation. In theory, these devices can be the perfect laptop / tablet replacement.  I am an MS Fanboy and not ashamed to admit it. I've been using Fujitsu Tablets with digital ink all the way back to Win XP.  The Challenge with this iteration of the sony product is that the kickstand is unusable in the lap and the non attaching keyboard cant be used there either.  If Sony were to come out with some sort of Docking Keyboad that would support the unit like a traditional clamshell - this would be the cat's meow.   Still Waiting for the perfect device.  For now I'm sticking with my Asus Vivo Tab TF810C which runs on Clover Trail Z2760 - it's a compromise in terms of power, but for travelling around it's perfect - Long Battery Life, Dockable Keyboard, Wacom Penenabled, brilliant 11.6 screen.  As soon as one of the manufactures creates a similar device with More Ram and Haswell or Broadwell Chip - I'm on it in a heartbeat.   Come On Sony - you're SO CLOSE.