Sony Vaio Tap 11 review: A slimmer, lighter competitor to the Surface Pro 2

Sony packs some bonus software in with the Vaio Tap 11 (and much of it also appears on other Vaio laptops as well), including ArtRage Studio, a painting and drawing program. There's an included active stylus, which clips on, but has no built-in slot to slide into. Nice to not charge extra for it, but we really do live in a post-stylus world now, for the most part.

The 11.6-inch display has a native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels -- the same as the Surface Pro and most other high-end laptops or hybrids. This is an IPS screen (that stands for in-plane switching), which gives it excellent off-axis viewing, but it's a bit on the glossy, glare-prone side.

Sony Vaio Tap 11
Video Micro-HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack
Data 1 USB 3.0, microSD card reader
Networking 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Optical drive None

Connections, performance, and battery
The Vaio Tap 11 isn't as connectivity-friendly as most Windows 8 hybrids, principally because of its very slim body. Under an insubstantial-feeling plastic flap, you'll find one USB 3.0 port and a Micro-HDMI jack. A second flap covers a microSD card slot, and there's also an NFC antenna for wireless connectivity, if you happen to have an NFC-compatible device.

Much more so than with the Surface Pro or Pro 2, the Tap 11 offers some some pretty significant configuration options. The most important is CPU choice, ranging from an Intel Pentium processor in the $799.99 entry-level model (which still includes the keyboard cover) to our $1,099.99 Core i5 version, to even more expensive Core i7 versions.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Raw performance isn't the most important thing when it comes to ultraportable tablets and hybrids, especially as the Windows 8 tile interface has been finely tuned to run smoothly with nearly any processor, as have Windows 8 apps such as IE10. That said, the Core i5-4210Y processor runs fine, even for such a low-power chip aimed specifically the most portable of devices.

The Haswell-powered Microsoft Surface Pro 2 isn't available as of this writing, but compared with the Surface Pro from February, you'll find somewhat slower performance, likely because the Tap 11 uses a very low-voltage version of the new Core i5. But, it still has more than enough power for everyday tasks, such as online surfing, HD video playback, and office tasks. For mainstream users, the performance difference is negligible.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery life is where this system really needs to shine, and it performs reasonably well, if not exceptionally, running for 5 hours and 9 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. Unlike the Surface Pro, which powers its keyboard cover directly, the keyboard cover here has its own internal battery that recharges when the two parts are connected, so it gets a small advantage there. The Tap 11 ran longer than both the Surface Pro (we haven't had a chance to test the Surface Pro 2 yet) and the Dell XPS 12, a small-screen hybrid.

Conclusion
The Vaio Tap 11 isn't likely to be your all-day, every-day computer, but it shows just how thin and light a full-Windows 8, Core i5 tablet can be. There's some definite awkwardness wrestling the slender kickstand and floating keyboard into submission outside of a narrow range of tabletop uses, but the entire package certainly makes the upcoming thicker, heavier Surface Pro 2 look dowdy.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

HandBrake MMT
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Where to Buy

Sony Vaio Tap 11

Part Number: SVT112190X

MSRP: $999.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 1.7 lbs
  • Type Microsoft Windows 8