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Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid review



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Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid
  • Sony VAIO Duo 13 Hybrid


Our Score:



  • Incredible battery life
  • Sharp screen
  • Responsive stylus
  • Excellent performance


  • Expensive
  • Tiny, awkward touchpad

Key Features

  • 13.3-inch 1920x1080 touchscreen display
  • 1.3kg
  • Intel Dual Core i7-4500U 1.8GHZ processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB Solid State Drive
  • Hybrid tablet/ultrabook design
  • Pressure sensitive stylus
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: free/subscription

What is the Sony VAIO Duo 13?

Sony’s VAIO range presents a broad selection of laptops with a somewhat confusing selection of names. The latest - the VAIO Duo 13 - muddies the waters further with the Duo part. The Duo signifies that it's a hybrid tablet and Windows 8 laptop, much like the recently reviewed Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S.

Aimed as those who want the benefits of a tablet without losing the non-touch interface of the keyboard and trackpad, the VAIO Duo we were sent has pretty impressive specifications on paper, including a dual core i7 processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB Solid State Drive, but how does it perform in practice, and does it justify its £1,492 pricetag?

Sony VAIO Duo 13 - Design & Build Quality

Sony certainly knows how to design an eye-catching computer, and the Sony VAIO Duo has a distinct design aesthetic of its own. When closed, it looks like a fairly chunky tablet, which makes sense with its 13.3-inch screen, and a thick bezel around the sides dwarfing most 10 and 7 inch dedicated tablets. When open, the screen props up on hooks about a third of a way into the base, pushing the keyboard and touchpad down considerably, but leaving room for a couple of airvents out of sight. In this configuration it’s slightly reminiscent of the short lived ‘Pocket Surfer’, but fortunately it behaves a lot more pleasantly.

It’s very angular, deviating from the current design fad of curves everywhere, and the result is a stylish device. Our review version was in ‘Carbon Black’, but Sony also sells a dazzling white version.

Every one of its inputs is behind the keyboard, or along its longer side when in tablet mode. There’s not much connectivity to speak of either: two USB ports, an SD card slot, an HDMI port, a headphone jack and the charger point. Along the right hand side, there’s also a ‘car coffee holder’ style rest for the stylus pen that can be pulled out, though there’s no holder for when the laptop isn’t in use.

Sony VAIO Duo 13 - Screen Quality

The first thing to say about the screen is no reflection on its quality, but a note to its limitations: because of the way the laptop portion has been designed, it can only ever be at one angle. It’s perfectly workable when sat at a desk, but try some lazy writing when lying in bed, and you’ll find it nigh-on impossible to view.

Fortunately, this inflexibility is mainly neutralised by the viewing angles of the screen, which are very good. In short, you have to move to well beyond an impractical angle before you can’t see everything sharply. Elsewhere, the screen fared well in our tests as well: the temperature recorded a score of 6,537 (where 6,500 is ideal), it’s nice and bright, and the contrast was extremely sharp, measuring 1122:1. The only let-down was its colour accuracy, with our DeltaE test recording a score of 4.71, leaving a slightly washed out, pale feel to photos.

Its 10-point touch-screen credentials are fine, although with a 13.3-inch screen displaying a high resolution of 1920x1080, being precise in Windows 8’s desktop mode can be a little tricky. The stylus provides additional accuracy, but more on that later.


August 22, 2013, 8:29 am

why do they don't put a trackpoint : if precise enough, it is easily the best ergonomic pointing device on a laptop and does not take any room.

Daily Mailer

August 22, 2013, 8:48 am

Unfortunately Windows 8 is unusable so who cares?


August 22, 2013, 11:51 am

I have the vaio duo 11 which has a trackpoint which I find fine to use, I guess they focus grouped it and switched to that mini touch pad which looks worse I'd have thought


August 22, 2013, 3:40 pm

I played with the Vaio Duo 13 a couple of times at the Sony Store and the trackpad was pretty decent. Remember also that this is a touchscreen machine. Having a full trackpad may not be needed.


August 22, 2013, 7:35 pm

Nice unit but just too expensive. If you don't need the stylus then the Yoga 13 can be had for almost half the price at the moment. Then again for this money many would be better served by either a MacBook Air or Pro Retina. Most won't miss the touchscreen and will be more productive with OS X.


August 22, 2013, 9:21 pm

I bought a Duo 13 for the convertibility. So a Macbook is really not an option. A better comparison would be the Vaio Pro 13 to the Macbooks. The Yoga 13 currently lacks Haswell and has a lower resolution screen. Yes, this is expensive, but I feel like it's worth the price.

Duo Bob

August 23, 2013, 3:44 am

The stylus is very accurate and uses an electro magnet field, not screen pressure. Much better than a track point and The track pad combined with touch is great. Lying on your back and using hand writing on the tablet works better than typing on a laptop no matter what screen angle is used.

Charlie Moritz

August 23, 2013, 6:36 am

Also if you don't like being so restricted by Apple then Microsoft is a better choice.


August 24, 2013, 9:55 am

There is no more or less restrictions with Apple than MS. In fact, since you can run Windows on a Mac, it is the other way around.


August 24, 2013, 10:06 am

But is it really worth twice the price of a Yoga? Only one screen position, when used as a laptop, is a real limitation. The Yogas slightly lower resolution is not really an issue given the way windows scales the desktop. Both the Yoga 13 and the Sony Duo 13 suffer the same problem in tablet mode of just being slightly too big and heavy to use for any length of time. A MacBook may not have a touchscreen but it does not need it! Whereas Windows 8 almost makes it compulsory, especially since few machines are kitted out with a trackpad as good as the Mac ones. The idea of a convertible is attractive but the reality, with 13" models at least, is it just fails to work. For a 13" portable machine the Macbook range is still the best choice, complemented with a 9" to 10" tablet. Then there is no compromise, except the price and having two units!


August 24, 2013, 5:17 pm

Apple won't allow their software to be installed on non Apple PCs- sounds restrictive to me.
BTW I thought Boot Camp still lacked many of the drivers for W8?


August 24, 2013, 5:18 pm

You've obviously never used it


August 24, 2013, 5:21 pm

If weight is an issue then surely the Vaio Pro 13 is a better option than the Air.


August 24, 2013, 11:08 pm

Double Post


August 24, 2013, 11:21 pm

Double Post


August 24, 2013, 11:27 pm

Well, it's not twice as much. Comparing the basic models, it's $850 vs $1400. That's a $550 premium for the Duo 13. In addition to what I mentioned (resolution and Haswell), you are also getting digitizer pen support on the Duo 13. Perhaps Lenovo is also emptying current inventory for an upcoming Haswell refresh by lowering prices. But I already conceded on price and that you will always pay a premium for Sony, just as you will always pay a premium for Apple.

I'm not sure where you are going with resolution and scaling. You're saying because of scaling it's now okay to have lower resolution screens?

I bought the Duo 13 precisely to replace my laptop AND my iPad, "the best choice" in your own words for portable computing. I am sick of this configuration. I'm sick of carrying 2 machines and I'm sick of slow browsing on my iPad (generation 3) and very sluggish web page rendering when sites get complicated. Whether this is too big and heavy? I guess I'll find out. You seem to have experience with convertibles since you say it "fails to work." That's a pretty definitive assessment of a market that's just beginning. In my opinion, that's the future of mobile computing. Unless they invent something to replace the keyboard for productivity work.

You're certainly entitled to you opinion and biases. I will factor your comments of "Macbook range is still the best choice" for 13" portable machine" and your earlier "more productive with OSX" as that. However, I certainly don't agree with you and I'm sure many don't either.


August 24, 2013, 11:40 pm

Well, we're talking about a 0.03 pound of difference, petty much a wash. Essentially both equal in weight.

EDIT: NVM, you're right. I was looking at the Duo 13 weight. The Pro 13 is 2.34 pounds so 0.62 pounds lighter than Air.


August 25, 2013, 9:49 am

Apple not allowing OS X to be loaded onto a PC is hardly being restrictive, as it does not affect an Apple user. It is like saying Windows Mobile 8 is restrictive as MS won't allow it to run on my Samsung Note 2.

Boot camp fully supports Windows 8 (using Boot Camp 5) on appropriate hardware.


August 25, 2013, 9:58 am

It is well known that Windows 8 handles screen scaling very poorly. This means when you have a small high resolution screen all elements (icons and controls) become too small for comfortable use, In the case of a 13" screen a resolution of 1600 x 900 is about the optimum for a balance between detail and usability of icons and controls. OS X handles increased screen resolutions (Retina displays) correctly so all elements, including icons, controls and text, scale so they are always usable no matter what the screen size or resolution.

Possibly the ideal combined device will appear in the future but the current crop, even with Hanswell, are not there yet.


August 25, 2013, 12:34 pm

"his eclipses even the 2013 Macbook Air’s 10 hours, 15 minutes to go straight to the top of our battery table: very impressive."

Lo and behold, journalistic naivety at its best.

The Pro 13 was already at the "top of our battery table".

The only thing Sony did with the Duo 13, was to "correct" the marketing mistake it made on the Pro 13. Instead of providing the choice of A) eclipsing the 2013 Macbook Air’s 10 hours or B) eclipsing the 2013 Macbook Air’s weight, it chose C) put the full battery inside.

It is obviously a good move marketing wise. Unfortunately, for customers of this kind of product (urban, upscale) who do not live 15h away from a power outlet anyway, that would probably be about 99.99999% of them, they do not have that choice with the Duo 13 now.

Personally I am very interested by this product for postdoc work. A 800 or 900g Duo 13, with the option to have an external battery to complement a "simple" 7 or 8h internal one, would have made it a much better product.


August 25, 2013, 1:01 pm

Totally agree with you on the "replace my laptop AND my iPad". I need to take notes during conferences, lectures and such, but also draw graphs from time-to-time or just read some books, magazines ... I hate to type on a tablet, which means I need to carry at the moment a laptop AND a tablet, hence why I am looking at the Duo 13.


August 25, 2013, 11:33 pm

I just ordered one for school, best thing is that it's MADE IN JAPAN!
It shipped out of Japan a few days ago :D


August 26, 2013, 12:16 am

I doubt a little scaling artifact is unusable, but by all means if scaling perfection is what people are looking for, by all means stay away from all Windows 8 machines.


August 26, 2013, 12:22 am

Yeah, I think this will be a great computer for those that need to take notes. So for students and professionals that attend conferences and lectures. I'm in the science field and I think this will be great to take to conferences to jot down notes at poster sessions where there are standing room only so a laptop is out of the question. It remains to be seen if even at slightly less than 3 pounds, if it is too large to haul around. I guess I'll find out.


August 26, 2013, 4:18 am

Congratulation! Mine is still "being built." Sigh...

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