At least in the beginning, most of the made-for-Windows-8 devices you're going to see will have a very similar form factor -- namely, a tablet that slots into a detachable keyboard dock. Sony, though, is taking a different tack: the outfit is ignoring the hybrid trend altogether and will instead sell the VAIO Duo 11, one of a select few slider PCs to hit the market. Though we already got hands-on, we're just now learning about pricing and availability: the company just announced that the Duo is coming out October 26th (the same day as Windows 8) and will start at $1,100.
That's a lofty price, to be sure, but with a spec sheet that includes Ultrabook guts, a backlit keyboard, NFC, GPS and a 1080p, IPS, Gorilla Glass display, we don't see how it could've cost much less. Take a gander at the design, and you'll see it's mostly made of magnesium alloy and, having handled it ourselves, we can attest to the sturdiness of the hinge mechanism. Compared to other sliders, which often make do with cramped keyboards, this offers a reasonably spacious layout, though it comes at the expense of a trackpad. Indeed, there's no touchpad here; just an optical pointing stick. (Thankfully, it seems pretty precise.) Additionally, the Duo 11 supports pen input, and comes with a dual digitizer pen that can recognize 256 levels of pressure sensitivity. As a tablet-like device, it has not one, but two cameras, both capturing at 2.4-megapixel resolution.
Continuing our tour of the device, the 2.84-pound system is home to a surprisingly robust collection of ports, including HDMI-out, two USB 3.0 sockets, an Ethernet jack (!), memory card slot, headphone jack and VGA. Yes, VGA. This might be a good time to clarify that Sony envisions this as a machine for road warriors, though it comes not with Windows 8 Professional, but Home Premium. That would also explain the battery situation: in addition to the built-in 4,960mAh cell, it will be offered with an optional slice battery that promises to double the runtime. Bonus: the spare has its own AC port, so you can plug it directly into the outlet. Again, the Duo 11 starts at $1,100 with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD (you can upgrade to a 256 drive and a Core i5 or 7 CPU if you wish). That's all she wrote for now, but check out our hands-on for more photos and a quick video.
SONY UNVEILS ITS FIRST HYBRID ULTRABOOK™ AND MOBILE TABLETOP PC FOR THE US MARKET
More to the Touch with the new VAIO Line featuring Windows 8
NEW YORK, October 11, 2012 – Sony today introduced its first mobile Tabletop PC for the U.S. market, the VAIO® Tap 20 PC, and its slider hybrid, the VAIO® Duo 11 Ultrabook™, combining innovative hardware designs with rich touch experiences powered by Windows 8. Alongside the new state-of-the-art PCs, there's an elegant T Series Ultrabook and portfolio of VAIO PCs that put touch right at the heart of the personal computing experience.
Built with Sony's innovative digital imaging, sound and TV technology, the latest VAIO Touchworld collection features bright, responsive 10-point multi-touch screens with engaging interactive applications, family computing options and new experiences in mobile productivity.
"VAIO Tap 20 is creating a new category of PC's by combining desktop PC functionality, battery-powered mobility, and multi-angle viewing," said Steven Nickel, VP, Sony VAIO. "This along with the innovative VAIO Duo 11 and the intuitive touch solutions incorporated across our existing PC portfolio, offers consumers flexibility to optimize their Windows 8 experience. Through the combination of compelling applications, Sony's network services, and cross device connectivity, VAIO is leading the way in developing a new Touchworld experience. We expect when consumers think of touch PCs, they'll think of VAIO."
Cut the Cord with Battery Powered All-in-One PC
VAIO Tap 20 is a family tabletop PC designed to take advantage of the intuitive ease of Windows 8. Featuring a 20-inch screen, this mobile desktop PC can lay flat on a coffee table for the whole family to play games on the large screen. With a removable battery, users can easily move it from room to room in the house – from bedrooms and kids' play areas to the kitchen or garage. Powered by Mobile BRAVIA® Engine 2 by Sony for amazing picture quality, VAIO Tap 20 ensures crisp, clear images while the built-in stand and wide angle panel enables viewing at many angles. Users can also stand VAIO Tap 20 upright and use it as a fully-functioning desktop PC to work on documents, surf the web and check emails with the supplied wireless keyboard and mouse.
VAIO Tap 20 comes with a choice of apps that are optimized for responsive 10-point multi-touch operation, including Fingertapps™ Organizer, a calendar app for family members to communicate digitally via posted to-do lists and recorded messages and videos.
In order to further enhance the VAIO Touchworld experience, Sony partnered with ArtRage to offer the premiere digital arts software, ArtRage Studio, on all five of the new touch VAIO models. ArtRage Studio offers natural painting tools such as oil paints and watercolors, along with utilities to make painting easier for anyone who wants to paint or draw on their computer regardless of skill level.
Sony also partnered with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to develop My Daily Clip application, a fun movie trivia game that lets up to four players gather around the VAIO Tap 20 and watch a wide range of favorite scenes from Sony Pictures movies and answer trivia questions.
Boost Productivity and Creativity with VAIO Duo 11
The versatile VAIO Duo 11 PC transforms almost instantly between a power-packed Ultrabook and a multi-media tablet with scratch-resistant glass. With Sony's high build quality, VAIO Duo 11 features a durable Surf Slider® mechanism to switch smoothly between keyboard and tablet for a dual functioning computing experience.
Slim and light, VAIO Duo 11 weighs approximately 2.84 lbs. and features an 11.6-inch screen. VAIO Duo 11 also offers a pressure-sensitive digitizer stylus for the satisfyingly expressive feel of natural handwriting directly on the touchscreen. A choice of swappable pen tips allows for a firmer or softer writing feel. It's excellent for writing, sketching and interacting with media and applications on the bright, detail-packed Full HD touchscreen.
Featuring an LCD display and backlit keyboard, the VAIO Duo 11 is available on latest-generation Intel® Core™ processors for maximum productivity. In addition to performance, looks and mobility, VAIO Duo 11 includes full functional I/O port connectivity and Sony's unique Sheet Battery technology (sold separately).
VAIO Duo 11 makes it easy to crop photos and graphics with Active Clip™ developed by Sony. Just draw roughly around the edge of the chosen picture with the digitizer stylus and Active Clip automatically detects edges and cuts out the background, allowing users to drop the cleanly-bordered image straight into documents or presentations. In addition, the Note Anytime application available for download on VAIO Duo 11 is for digitally jotting down handwritten notes on the touchscreen.
Rich Entertainment Experience for VAIO Tap 20 and VAIO Duo 11
Both the VAIO Tap 20 and Duo 11 PCs make it easier than ever to connect with other home devices and share content. Through Sony's one-touch function, users can easily and instantaneously enjoy mp3 files and photos across an array of NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled devices. Simply touch one device against another and instantly establish a wireless connection.
VAIO Tap 20 and VAIO Duo 11 also feature incorporated stereo speakers utilizing Sony's audio fidelity expertise, including Dolby® Home Theatre® v4 Audio Technology to experience full-impact surround sound.
Sony Entertainment Network's Music Unlimited service is also available with full access to millions of songs at any time.
The top-selling stylish T Series Ultrabook made with an ultra-smooth brushed aluminum shell now comes with a touch display on the new T13 Ultrabook to allow consumers to experience Windows 8-based touch in a clamshell form factor.
Sony is also introducing the T14 Ultrabook incorporating the same port connectivity as the T13 model and includes an optical disc drive to support Blu-ray and DVD media.
The VAIO E Series family is an excellent portable companion for students and everyday users. Featuring Sony's signature wrap around design, the E Series now includes a touchscreen enabled aluminum E Series 14P model with signature VAIO diamond cut logo as well as a new E17, 17-inch model with a Full HD Display (1920 x 1080) and a Quad Core processor. Also available in 11-inch, 14-inch and 15-inch models, the PCs include backlit keyboards (14-inch and 15-inch), the latest Intel® Core™ processors (14-inch and 15-inch), with clear high contrast displays and AMD Radeon® graphics options.
The S Series continues to offer an enhanced combination of mobility and performance in an elegant design crafted in tough, weight-saving magnesium, aluminum and carbon fiber materials. The 13-inch model is now available in a new Burgundy Red color. The S Series is also available in 13.3-inch Premium and 15.5-inch models.
All Sony VAIO's will feature either Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro
Sony's media applications
Also unique to Sony's VAIO line are two new apps for an expanded entertainment experience. The Album application makes viewing, sorting or sharing photos and videos fun and intuitive.
The Music application lets listeners enjoy their music collection with superb quality thanks to incorporated stereo speakers utilizing Sony's audio fidelity. Both applications let VAIO users throw or stream personal photos, video and music to DLNA compatible devices such as BRAVIA TVs and network speakers.
Sony Imagination Studio™ VAIO® Edition
Many models also feature Sony Imagination Studio™ VAIO® Edition, which includes four powerful Sony applications: Movie Studio Platinum, ACID™ Music Studio, Sound Forge™ Audio Studio and DVD Architect™ Studio software - so you can create music and movies like never before.
Lastly, the Socialife application, available for download from the Windows Store, is a social feed aggregator that allows users to view, sort and manage SNS such as Facebook and Twitter, and news feeds through one stylish user interface. Based on what your friends are reading, Socialife is able to point out other popular topics and even suggests content. Find out more about Socialife: http://app.sel.sony.com/socialife/en/index.html.
Pricing and Availability
The new touch enabled VAIO line will be available at the end of October at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide. Below are approximate suggested retail prices for each model.
VAIO Tap 20
VAIO Tap 20 $879.99 and up in Black; White.
VAIO Duo 11
VAIO Duo 11 $1099.99 and up in Black.
E Series 11 $449.99 and up in Black; White.
E Series 14 $449.99 and up in Black; White; Pink.
E Series 14P $689.99 and up in Gun Metallic and Gold; Silver and Blue, Pink and Pink; Black and Red; White and Blue.
E Series 15 $449.99 and up in Black; White; Aluminum Silver; Pink.
E Series 17 $729.99 and up in Black; White.
T Series Ultrabook
T Series 13 $669.99 and up in Aluminum Silver.
T Series 14 $669.99 and up in Aluminum Silver.
S Series 13 $799.99 and up in Black; Silver; White; Pink; Burgundy Red.
S Series 13 Premium $1199.99 and up in Black; Gold; Gun Metallic.
S Series 15 $849.99 and up in Black; White; Silver.
L Series All-in-One
L Series $1199.99 and up in Black and White.