Sony Vaio Tap 11 Review

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Sony Vaio Tap 11

The Sony Vaio Tap 11 is a Windows 8 tablet that comes with a keyboard so you can use it like a laptop. The keyboard is completely separate from the main tablet, with no cradle or magnets to hold them together – just a tiny docking port that snaps the keyboard to the bottom of the main screen when you need to charge it. Annoyingly, this means you can't use the tablet while the keyboard is charging. As the keyboard is detachable, however, you can put it where you like. We separated the tablet and keyboard by roughly six metres before they stopped communicating, so you won't have a problem using it at a desk. The detachable cover is a blessing and a curse. It makes the Tap 11 more flexible to use but we'd rather be able to charge it separately, as you can with other Windows 8 tablets. There's also an occasional lag between tapping the keys and the characters appearing onscreen, but this is barely noticeable unless you're typing long Word documents.

The keys are well spaced and provide plenty of tactile feedback, but they're flat and have little travel, which can make typing uncomfortable. The small touchpad was also temperamental and prone to confusing two-finger scrolling with pinch-zooming. The 11.6in touchscreen is a joy to use. With 10-point touch support, the display is very responsive, and we had no problem tapping files and folders at the screen's resolution of 1,920x1,080. Sony also includes a stylus for extra precision when using the screen. As with the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, the Tap 11's screen can sense the pen from roughly 10mm away, but found Sony's tracking software much more accurate. The pen's sensor didn't run away into the corners of the screen when we held the pen at an angle near the edge of the display, and the screen was quick to pick up the pen's sensor when we hovered the stylus elsewhere onscreen. Unfortunately, there's nowhere to store the stylus, which made us worry about losing it.

The Tap 11's image quality is good. Colour calibrator test showed that it displays 84.1 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, and its colour coverage is relatively even across the main primary colour groups. Greens, reds and cyans were a little deficient compared with other colours, but this didn't make much of an impact on solid-colour image tests, as reds, greens and blues all looked bright and vibrant across the screen. Overall, this is above average for a laptop and tablet screen.

Black levels were less impressive, as we recorded a relatively high reading of 0.46cd/m2. Combined with the strong blue and magenta coverage, this left blacks looking slightly purple in solid image test. The contrast levels also left a lot to be desired. Despite a contrast ratio of 841:1, detail in some of our night shots was almost nonexistent. This is a shame because the Tap 11's wide viewing angles meant we saw a clear image wherever we positioned the screen. The Tap 11 has some powerful hardware inside, which is surprising when you consider it's just 10.5mm thick. The tablet is available in a variety of specifications, but our review sample is 1.5GHz Intel Core i5-4210Y Haswell processor scored a respectable 30 overall in multimedia benchmarks. This is roughly three times as fast as HP's Envy X2 and other Atom-based Windows 8 tablets, so it should handle everyday office tasks well. It's not as fast as the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, though, which scored 47.

The battery life of just six hours and 52 minutes in light-usage test was disappointing. We expected more from its Haswell chip, and it pales in comparison with the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, which managed a further five hours in the same test.

The Tap 11's thin body doesn't leave a lot of room for ports, but Sony has packed a surprising number round its sides. They're all located under plastic flaps, but you'll find a USB3 port, a microSD card slot, a Micro HDMI output for connecting an external display, a SIM card slot and a combined audio jack. The 8-megapixel rear camera uses Sony's Exmor RS technology, but outdoor shots left a lot to be desired. They tended to show a good amount of detail, but certain areas were muddy, with blurred pixels, and there were visible clouds of noise. The camera didn't fare much better indoors, as there was a noticeable lack of detail in low-light shots.

The Sony Vaio Tap 11 is an intriguing Windows 8 tablet, but it's more expensive and less powerful than Microsoft's Surface Pro 2. If Sony's keyboard were more responsive, the tablet could be a viable contender for Microsoft's crown, but ultimately it falls short.
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