Sony Vaio Duo 11 Is One Strange Windows 8 Hybrid [HANDS ON]

Pete Pachal
Sony Vaio Duo 11 Is One Strange Windows 8 Hybrid [HANDS ON]
Sony Vaio Duo 11

Sony Vaio Duo 11

The Sony Vaio Duo 11 has a folding design that puts the screen at a fixed angle in laptop mode. It's a strangely limiting choice, which also leaves no room for a touchpad.

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Sony is joining the Windows 8 world, upgrading its Vaio PCs to run Microsoft's new OS while throwing in a couple of surprises. Besides the unusual Tap 20 "portable" all-in-one, the new Vaio line includes a notebook/tablet hybrid and updates to existing Vaio lines.

The Vaio Duo 11, which Sony first unveiled in August, is a folding hybrid, but with an odd twist: You can only position the screen in two different ways: either flat over the keyboard or at about a 60-degree angle. That's it -- you can't position the screen at any other angle when working with the keyboard.

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While the PC has some nice qualities -- including an 11.6-inch screen, an easy-to-carry weight of 2.84 pounds, and a supplied stylus -- the design choice is strangely limiting and may alienate some users.

The Duo 11's design also creates another limitation: Since the screen's "SurfSlider" folding mechanism positions the base of the screen right above the function keys, there's no room for a touchpad. Instead there's a kind of touch-nub thingie, similar to what Lenovo includes on its ThinkPad laptops.

The Vaio's nub is actually much nicer to use, although I'd still prefer a touchpad. Not to mention more room between the keys and the screen. Otherwise the Duo 11 is a fine Windows 8 machine, though as designed it's definitely more tablet than notebook. It starts at $1,099.

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Sony is updating its existing Vaio lines to Windows 8 as well. The bargain E Series also adds a 17-inch model with a full HD display, starting at $729.99. The T Series Ultrabooks now sport touch screens, and Sony is adding a 14-inch model for $669.99. The S Series, which ranges from $799.99 to $1,199.99, is getting the Windows 8 treatment as well.

Finally there's the L Series all-in-one PC, which gets a 10-point touch screen as well, and starts at $1,199.99

How do you like the new Vaios, particularly the Duo 11? Think you'll get one? Let us know in the comments.

This story originally published on Mashable here.