The Sony Vaio Tap 11 is a slim Windows 8 tablet with a magnetic detachable keyboard to go head-to-head with the Microsoft Surface. According to Sony, it’s the world’s thinnest Intel powered Windows 8 tablet and the company believes this is the all-in-one device to ditch the laptop for.
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At just 9.9mm thick, the Vaio Tap 11 with the keyboard is supremely slender. To put into perspective, it's slimmer than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 Android tablet. Just like the Pro 13, when you pick it up you can truly appreciate how lightweight it really is. You are going to barely notice carrying this around in your bag.
Sony has modelled the look of the Tap 11 closely on the Sony Xperia Z tablet and that's a good thing. There’s a similar sized black bezel around the touchscreen display and connectivity ports around the edges of the tablet.
Around the back you’ll find the kickstand the sit the tablet up and a magnetic latch to connect the keyboard. If you are charging the tablet and have the keyboard physically connected, it will also charge the battery-powered keyboard at the same time.
The magnetic cover keyboard is very similar to the Microsoft Type keyboard. There are no ports and keys are slightly raised from the surface. The extremely slender design helps keep the overall thickness of the Tap 11 down below 10mm.
The bottom is made from lightweight aluminium, and on closer inspection it appears to creak around the edges a bit lke the Vaio Pro 13 did in our review. The magnetic connection between the keyboard and tablet did not feel the most secure in our brief play.
The Sony Vaio Tap 11 has an 11.6-inch full HD 1080p screen that borrows the Triluminos screen technology on Sony’s Bravia TV range. We’ve seen this quality of screen on the Vaio Pro 13 and it’s one of the sharpest displays we’ve seen on an ultrabook. Like-wise, on the Vaio Tap 11 colours are rich, clarity is great and brightness levels make it perfect for HD content.
Sony is making a big push about Vaio laptops appealing to creative types. Its solution is to introduce a stylus-style digitizer pen. The stylus has 256 pressure sensitivity levels to help give you that pen on paper feel.
Compared to the Samsung S-Pen packed into the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, it’s some way behind the pressure sensitivity to deliver exceptional levels of accuracy. It worked well for basic drawing, but we'd like to see how it fares against the S-Pen for accuracy.
Also, we should note that there isn’t a compartment on the Tap 11 to hold the stylus, so this is one you are going to have to keep loose in the pocket.
There’s a series of native apps that best utilize the stylus. VAIO paper is essentially a place where you can combine doodling and images in one place. Vaio Clip lets you crop images and send them over to the Vaio Paper application. Adobe Photoshop will offer full support for the Sony stylus closer to its release date.
For cameras the Vaio Tap 11 features an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera adopting Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor from its camera range. This comes in handy with the Cam Scanner app where you can use the camera to scan images. The native application can then recognize edges and reduce noise in the image to make it usable in other apps.
In terms of connectivity there’s micro HDMI and micro SD support. Additionally there’s Bluetooth 4.0 onboard , NFC, built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, GPS and the option of a 3G version, something that the Microsoft Surface currently does not offer.
IR blasters seem to be making a comeback for some reason, and the Vaio Tap 11 packs the TV-controlling technology. Using the TV SideView app you can access EPG from the display, change the channel and get additional content about shows you are currently watching. The Tap 11 also has the ability to control other AV devices in your living room helping you ditch the numerous remotes from the sofa armchair.
The Tap 11 will be offered in a range of models with up to 4GB of RAM, up to 512GB SSD storage and Intel HD Graphics 4200. It will also run on Intel's fourth generation Haswell processors, which should help boost a battery life Sony has yet to confirm for the Tap 11.
The Sony Vaio Tap 11 is a great looking tablet and the detachable keyboard is major plus as well. The slim, lightweight design is sure to appeal and the screen is a beautiful full HD offering. We do have some concerns about aspects of the build quality and we'd be keen to see how valuable the digitizer pen really is. The Tap 11 will be available before the end of the year but there's no news on pricing. Here's hoping it's less than the Surface, because it could be a big seller.
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