At Sony's pre-IFA press conference, the electronics giant announced a trio of new Vaio PCs. Unlike previous years, none of the the three new systems highlighted here are traditional clamshell laptops. Instead, each combines the features of the PC and tablet, following the industry wide trend toward hybrid devices.
The Vaio Flip, Tap 11, and Tap 21 are all touch-screen Windows 8 devices that should be available later in 2013, although there are no set price and release date details yet. Each is briefly profiles below, with a link to more extensive hands-on coverage and photos.
Sony Vaio Flip
The Flip attacks the hybrid problem by adding a hinge to the center of the upper lid, forming a horizontal line from left to right. The lid folds back along that line, allowing the screen to tilt back. First, it flips back to form a kiosk mode, with the screen pointing out from the back of the system (away from the keyboard and touch pad). Then the lid can be pushed shut to form a slate-style tablet, and unlike the Yoga, the keyboard is on the inside.
Sony Vaio Tap 11
A standalone superthin Windows 8 tablet that combines with a flat keyboard, the Vaio Tap 11 is part slate and part hybrid. The two parts clip together via magnets for a reasonably secure closed unit to carry, and when separated, the tablet half sits up on a built-in kickstand. It's the thinnest Windows 8 tablet you can get with a full Intel Core i-series CPU.
Sony Vaio Tap 21
The Vaio Tap 20 came out last year and was one of our early favorites in the tabletop PC world. The landscape has expanded since then, but the Tap 21 has an aluminum chassis and easy-fold rear stand/hinge that give the PC all the appeal of a well-build monitor/tablet with a bit of the feel of a TV. It's also 30 percent lighter than last year's model at about 8 pounds, despite gaining in inch in overall screen size.