Sony joins Windows 8 fray with Vaio Tap 20 "mobile" desktop PC, Duo 11 Ultrabook laptop/tablet

Summary:Hybrid is the name of the game when it comes to the electronics giant's new systems for Microsoft's latest OS, including a tabletop computer that behaves like a tablet.

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Microsoft has been touting new form factors for PCs running its new Windows 8 operating system, and Sony seems happy to oblige with a pair of new machines that offers users flexibility in how they get their computing tasks accomplished. 

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In the case of the Vaio Duo 11 Ultrabook, Sony is following in the footsteps of already announced hybrids that combine laptop and tablet features (so-called convertible portables like Lenovo's new Windows 8 lineup). It consists of an 11.6-inch display and a keyboard that work as a traditional laptop, but the user can essentially fold down the screen onto the keyboard using the company's Surf Slider mechanism to turn it into a tablet. That makes it easier to use its touchscreen features, and Sony includes a digitizer stylus with swappable pen tips for different writing/drawing tasks. Engadget points out that the display uses Gorilla Glass and IPS technology and features 1080p full HD resolution.

The base Duo 11 is priced at $1,099 and comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, along with 4GB of RAM, 128GB solid state drive, and Windows 8 Home Premium. It also comes with a nice selection of ports, including HDMI and VGA output, Ethernet jack, memory-card slot, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports. You can replace the base CPU with a Core i5 or i7 version or double the SSD capacity for an added cost. Other options include an additional battery using what Sony calls Sheet Battery technology, essentially doubling the system's battery life.

More novel is the new Vaio Tap 20, which Sony is calling a "mobile" desktop, but which essentially means it turns into a giant tabletop tablet. The 20-inch 1,600x900 IPS screen can lay flat, and it also operates on battery power, which means you can move it around the house if you don't mind its 11-pound weight (again, according to Engadget). It includes a stand so that you can use it as a traditional all-in-one desktop as well, though it ships with a mobile Intel Ivy Bridge processor. The base configuration also comes with 4GB of RAM and, proving it's as much desktop as tablet, a traditional 500GB hard drive. As with the Duo 11, you can upgrade the Tap 20 to Core i5 or i7 processors and SSD storage.

Other features include a built-in 1.2-megapixel webcam, subwoofer, and a rubber seal that helps the unit resists drops and water spillage. But its best feature might be its price: The Tap 20 starts at $879.99, similar to other all-in-ones, most of which lack tablet capabilities.

Do you think the Tap 20 will be a success with its hybrid capabilities and its price? Or is the world not ready for a 20-inch tablet that doubles as a desktop PC? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section below.     

Topics: Laptops, PCs, Tablets, Windows

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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