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Sony unleashes the VAIO Duo 13 Windows 8 hybrid

Sony VAIO Duo 13

Do you remember Sony’s VAIO Duo 11 Windows 8 slider laptop/tablet hybrid (wow that’s a mouthful)? If you don’t, don’t worry – it was a terrible machine; the unit was plagued by an uncomfortable keyboard, short battery life, and a bulky design. Sony wants to take another shot at the slider concept though, and has unveiled the Sony VAIO Duo 13.

The new hybrid device from Sony weighs just less than three pounds and has .77 inch thin body. On the inside, the Duo 13 is packed with a 1.6 GHz Core i5 Haswell CPU, 4 GB of RAM, a 1080p screen and a 128 GB SSD. The machine also packs a new 6,320 mAh battery that is almost twice as large as the one in its older Duo 11 cousin.

Sony also listened to previous complaints about the Duo line by ditching the tacky optical navigation stick and opting for a new trackpad. Don’t get too excited though, as the trackpad is tiny – very tiny. If you don’t believe us, take a look at the picture below.

Sony VAIO Duo 13 Trackpad

The unit will be available for sale June 9th for $1,399 and will come in both Carbon Black and Carbon White color schemes.

OEMs and manufacturers are currently at a point of discovery in which they are trying to find out what the best possible form factor for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices are. While Sony believes the perfect form factor is a machine that slides, Lenovo believes the perfect form factor is a machine that folds over backwards, and Dell believes the perfect form factor is a machine that spins its screen right round.

As we move forward into the future, we will undoubtedly see a ton of form factors for Windows 8 devices, the question remains – which is the winning design?

Source/Photos: The Verge

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Reader comments

Sony unleashes the VAIO Duo 13 Windows 8 hybrid

38 Comments

I really like the design actually, but the price is just too high...I'll just have to wait till there is a WinRT device like this at a price of about 500-600 $.

I really like the idea of this device and to me it looks great, though I'm quite happy with my Surface Pro.

Its interesting to see the different styles OEMs are bringing to the table with Windows 8/RT devices.

Looking for a single, winning design for Windows 8 is futile and negates the key advantage of Windows, that you always have choices. No single design is going to fit everyone and its great to see designs like this, the Acer S7, Dell XPS 11, Sony Vaio Pro and others which will all give a much better experience with Haswell.
 
My personal fav at the moment is the Dell, has everything in one in a not too heavy chassis, digitizer with silo, Haswell, 11.6" screen which is just the right size and an interesting keyboard. If Microsoft doesnt find a soluton to the flapping keyboard covers I'll likely be looking at this as my Haswell computer.

Funny I ordered the Duo 11 last night before going to bed. When I woke up in the morning checking the latest on my phone from bed; I realised Sony's just announced Duo 13. Called Sony to cancel last night's order. Now just waiting for the 9th to order the Duo 13. Excited! :-)

If this thing is anything like the original, you'll be able to slice your meats with it. That sliding mechanisim on the duo 11 was ungodly, lol.

I'm not sure if you misunderstand me. I'm saying that the sliding mechanism rocked. Heck, if it got better, I'll just put that slicer on hold! ;)

I could say the same thing about my desktop, but it's a different form factor so the comparison is meaningless. 

My desktop is twice the machine of the new Razer for half the price( Including taxes of course)

Personally I think surface pro with a kick stand docking into a professional keyboard with a hinge would be the pinnacle of laptop tablet hybridness. But the actual tablet might be too thick to get a viable hinge working. I'd love to see it though. That, or surface pro docking with multiple angles.

I bought the VAIO Duo 11 in January 2013.  Been using it everyday.  I wouldn't call the device terrible.  Yes there are some things I don't like about it.  However it has been such a usefull device, ranging from League of Legends matches to Managing an entire Corporate Network.  I opted for the i7 version with 256GB SSD.  It is a very powerfull little device.
 
I am looking to upgrade to this new one due to Haswell's added benifets.  Far better batterylife is to be expected, twice the GPU Performance and less heat.

Not sure where the author get "terrible machine". Of the hybrids, it was/is the best IMO. Nobody "remembers" any hybrids because they just aren't talked about. The form factor fits my lifestyle perfectly. 

Like you jakthebomb, I opted for the larger SSD but just stayed with an i5. The screen is awesome. I got the battery sheet and on a 10 hour flight, I watched 3 movies and read an e-book (never felt "bulky"). The only think I'm not happy about is the keyboard...keystrokes just aren't accurate.The sliding mechanism on the duo is very robust and looks like it will last for the life of the computer. I also like the widi capability.  If Sony gets the keyboard right and doesn't lose any capability from the duo 11 they have a winner. Kind of jealous...wish my laptop had waited a while longer to break (ok..I should rephrase that...wish I had waited longer to break my laptop :-)

Hey, just for fun, lets see where the author gets things wrong.

He calls the Duo 11 a bulky design. Not sure what that means. He points to this new Duo as having a "thin" body of only .77" but the Duo 11 was .71"... Hmmm ok, maybe that's not it. How about weight?  New Duo less than 3 lbs. Duo 11 2.87 lbs. About the same to me. Looks like they cut down on the robustness of the sliding mechanism to keep the weight the same for this larger hybrid. How about battery? 6320 mAh compared to 4960 mAh. So the new Duo's battery is 22% larger. Hardly approaching "almost double". Point being.. stick to some easy facts and keep the hyperbole in check.

I'll be interested in seeing one of these in person though. If the sliding mechanism looks to be strong enough and there is an improvement in the keyboard, then my Duo 11 may be a gift for someone :-)
 
 

I personally see nothing better. I have the i7-3537u model with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD and I much prefer an 11.6" display to a 13" and I guess none of these new ones are getting the processor with the HD 5000 graphics (they're all going to be HD 4400 according to that Engadget review)...so the performance is not necessarily much improved. And the SSD speeds seem to be worse.

This article (and others) do seem to be very supportive of this new model compared to the Vaio Duo 11...but really not much has changed outside of the processor (display is minor, IMO).

The battery life is about the only substantial difference. But for me, trading that for the increased size is not a good thing.

I'd rather they kept the same size battery in the original and shrunk the bezel to get the weigh tdown, and simply improved it with the Haswell processor along with the new keyboard design. Everything else is on par in the original or better, IMO.

Just to point out, jakthebomb, I believe the i5 or i7-4500u that will be available for the Duo 13 will only have the HD 4400 graphics, which from the benchmarks and impressions I've seen, appears to be only marginally better with the ULV processors (15-30%, sometimes not at all). That may improve with drivers, but the Iris 5100 and Iris Pro 5200 graphics are the one's that will be getting 2-3X the performance increase, but will be the top end i7-XXXX MQ or HQ processors only.

Personally, I wouldn't say the graphics performance in the Duo 13 would be enough to push me to it over my Duo 11. Maybe if they come out with an 11 model and cut the weight, bezel, and keep it around 8-10hr battery life.

The slide on the 11 is a bit wonky, but I think it's a great design and love it. It's also really light, but most things are really light.
Personally, the track pad looks horrible. The battery looks nice though. Hope you can have the battery attachment still... thing made the angle just perfect by lifting the back slightly. It also doubled it's.life, so it really was a nice add-on. Oh. And a place for your pen plus a double charge if you wanted (one cord for the battery and 1 for the duo, if you didn't want to charge through one for both).

"plus a double charge if you wanted (one cord for the battery and 1 for the duo, if you didn't want to charge through one for both)."
What do you mean by this? It sounds like you're saying there is one cord for the internal battery ("duo") and one for the external battery. I have the Duo 11 and I just plug in the charger to the Duo itself and it charges the batteries one at a time. Can you explain what you mean?

What I meant was that you can either do as you do and plug in a single cord for a slower charge that will charge the device and then the sheet battery, or you can plug a cord into both the Duo and the sheet battery at the same time for a charge on both batteries concurrently.

It's just a nice thing to be able to do a charge on both for a quick charge (half the time as both are getting power vs. one and then the other) if you're really needing it.

Sadly enough, I've had a device (mind you not a computer) that would disable an AC port when you had a battery attachment on. Yes you could take it off, but this device was a bit trickier to separate than the duo.

Anyone know if the new 13" Duo is still able to use the sheet battery?

LOL, I have had the sheet battery for a couple months now and didn't even know it had a charging port on it! Though I don't have two cables to charge them at the same time, but good to know. That's why your post was confusing to me...I just assumed out of the box that the Duo always charged the sheet battery when you connected it (as I've done).
 
Though I had connected my sheet battery as soon as I got it and have only taken it off a couple times, so I haven't really looked at it to notice the charging port on it.
 
/facepalmingmyself

vaio line has always messed around with trackpads and those little joysticks.  this is a no brainer.  since its a touchscreen, there really isnt a problem scrolling down.

Scrolling isn't a problem... It's when you are trying to tap something really small, like a footnote reference number.

Besides the battery, I think the biggest improvement is the keyboard ... it is now set back giving you some space to rest your palms.  Definitely worth a look.

I'm sitting on the sidelines right now waiting for the dust to settle, my 920 and desktop running 8gb ddr2 with an Intel q9550 that I built in 2008 is still running nicely. I want to get a tablet next but still have not made up my mind as to what I want.

Because Windows is part of the total ecosystem, and the two OSes are likely to move closer and closer. Even Xbox One runs the Windows 8 kernel. Every article in WPCentral is now categorized, so you can filter for only WP-specific, and ignore Windows and Xbox articles.

According to Daniel, a site-wide filter will be enabled soon for whiners like you, so just few more days of misery for you.

Yes! Finally a device with full sized keyboard, a stylus, good battery life, and decent specs. Now hopefully Sony has some sort of student discount or sale...

$1400 for an experiment is way too much.. Yes, an experiment.. The slider is not adjustable.. Besides, Sony screwed me over big time when they announced they wouldn't support older Vaio laptops with Windows 8 drivers. Had to spend hours configuring mine after I upgraded from Windows 7. Not giving them my money anytime soon.

This is hardly an expriment. I have the Vaio Duo 11 and I personally feel it's the best laptop available. The slider is perfectly fine for the majority of uses, and the viewing angles are great so you don't really need the adjustment you might want from other displays. While a silght tilt might be nice, sliding it into tablet mode works great for the times you do just want to hold it at a straight position.
Sorry to hear about your problems with drivers, but I'm sure your laptop still worked fine after that time configuring. Doesn't sound like much of a reason to hate on them.

The article says the new battery (6320mAh) is nearly twice the size of the original's (4960mAh) battery...think your math might be a little off.
I'd have rather Sony keep the original battery size and shrunk the bezel with an 11" display and gotten the weight to around or even under 2.5lbs. I think many people would take the couple hour hit in battery life for the weight difference, especially since that'd still be nearly double what the Duo 11 gets. Plus you could always opt for the sheet battery still.
I have the original with the sheet battery and max specs, and I wouldn't trade it for a 13" display version. If they just put in the new processor, hinge, and dispay, along with the smaller bezel, I'd be ordering day one. Everything else could be exactly as the original.

The key to Duo 13 is the stylus.  Slider form factor isn't for everyone, but it is for people who use the stylus.  People with no need to use a stylus will never understand why Sony is trying to stick with a slider.  (And they don't have to.)   There is a reason for fixed viewing angle - you can use your stylus to write/annotate right there on screen with the keyboard also available.  With any form factor other than a slider, trying to write on a screen will result in the user having to hold the screen up with one hand to prevent it from folding/tilting back, unless it's in a tablet mode.  This is, in my opinion, best option available for students looking to replace paper and pen or people looking to do presentations (teachers, businessmen) and annotate on screen real time.
By the way, as a person who owned Duo 11 for a little less than a month, fixed viewing angle was the least of a problem -- in fact, it was no problem at all.  Most of the time I didn't even feel the need to adjust it.  Whenever I felt the need to adjust the angle, it was because my posture had gone bad from sitting for an extended period of time (hunched over or something like that.)  It actually helped my posture as it's optimized for "correct" positions.  Although I also figured out how to use it lying in bed...