Despite the limited space available, the VAIO 13 manages to squeeze in a full sized backlit keyboard, minus the number pad. Comparing it side by side with an 11-inch Macbook Air shows that the keys are slightly smaller, but only be a couple of millimetres, and it’s unlikely to slow your typing down at all.
Indeed, we found touch typing on the VAIO 13 to be pretty easy, and despite the thin base of the unit, typing quickly and firmly never made the unit feel fragile.
The trouble with the stylish design of the VAIO 13 when its in laptop mode is that the screen hooks in to cover around a third of the base, meaning that everything gets pushed down, leaving only a tiny amount of space once all 85 keys have been squeezed in. That means the touchpad is just one inch tall, or roughly twice the height of a space bar.
As you might guess, this gets fiddly fast, and we’d gladly sacrifice the stylish design for an easier to use touchpad. The tight space means gestures are inconsistent to pull off, and you may find yourself wanting to plug in an external mouse quickly - or at least do everything you possibly can on the touchscreen. On the bright side, actual clicking is responsive and satisfying, with a clear area difference between left and right click functionality.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Note family of smartphones and tablets, the VAIO 13 Duo comes with pressure sensitive stylus pen for note taking, drawing and just navigating around Windows 8. It works well for this, although unlike the Note, the lack of ability to tuck it into the VAIO itself is a bit of an oversight.
It’s also worth mentioning that the VAIO Duo 13 comes in a variety of customisable flavours on the Sony website, starting at £1,352. You can increase the memory to 8GB, up the SSD to 512GB and reduce the processor to a 1.6GHZ i5-4200U should you wish. The review model came to £1,492 using their builder (including the £40 surcharge for Windows 8 Pro).
If you’re more interested in a tablet than a laptop, then certainly not: the VAIO Duo starts at around £900 more than the iPad, and Windows tablets don’t have the support that Android or Apple ones do.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in a hybrid, then the VAIO Duo is hard to fault in its performance, if you can learn to live with the tiny touchpad - and if you’re into touchscreens to the point that you want a hybrid tablet, then presumably you can. It is expensive though, and although the performance is a little weaker the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S is a cheaper, lighter alternative if you’re not wedded to a 13-inch screen. The Yoga also offers a lot more flexibility with the screen, allowing you to work it from any angle while the VAIO Duo has one angle only.
If performance is all important, and you like the idea of a stylus and the aesthetics of this unique Sony offering though, you won’t be disappointed in your purchase.
A stylish hybrid laptop with excellent performance and incredible battery life. If you can cope with its incredibly small touchpad, and money is no object, then the VAIO Duo comes with a solid recommendation.