Design and Features
As with the Sony Duo 11, the Duo 13 uses Sony’s Surf Slider design to make the transition from a tablet to a laptop. It still uses a spring-loaded hinge mechanism to move the tablet into a semi-upright position, but this time around the hinge is much smaller (3.4 inches). As was the case with the Sony Duo 11, you can’t adjust the screen angle when in laptop mode. The screen is held in place by two metal studs on the keyboard deck that fit into two notches on the bottom of the tablet.
The 13.3-inch screen has white borders (a black version is also available) and is housed in a silver carbon fiber chassis. It weighs in at 2.9 pounds, and when in tablet mode it measures a relatively thin 0.77 inches thick and is 13 inches wide by 8.3 inches deep. The keyboard matches the carbon fiber case has a clickable touchpad at the bottom. The pad is very small but it’s better than no pad at all, as with the Acer Aspire P3-171-6820. The chiclet-style keyboard is a bit cramped and key travel is fairly shallow, but it is full-sized and gets the job done when typing is essential.
The 1,920-by-1,080 screen uses IPS (in-plane switching) technology to deliver excellent color quality but its viewing angle performance was disappointing; when viewed from an angle the image loses luminance and is noticeably dimmer. On the plus side, colors remain intact, but I expected wider angles from an IPS panel. The fact that you can’t adjust the screen angle while using the Duo 13 as a laptop looms large in this regard.
The Duo 13’s 10-point capacitive touch-screen technology worked perfectly; gesturing, pinching, zooming, and swiping movements were smooth and accurate. It also supports digitizer technology and comes with a two-button stylus and a couple of pen-centric programs including Art Rage Studio Pro and Note Anytime. As with the Duo 11, the digitizer works well and offers pressure sensitive pen-strokes. Sony added a much needed stylus clip to the right side of the tablet as well as a pull out holder that keeps the pen upright and ready to use.
Ports include two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI output, a headphone jack, and a Magic Gate card reader slot. Also included are a 2-mp front-facing camera, a rear-facing 8-mp camera, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4.0 networking, and both NFC (Near Field Communication) and Wi-Di (Wireless Display) capabilities.
The Duo13’s 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) is loaded with Windows 8 and boatload of VAIO-branded apps including VAIO Care, ArcSoft Camera for VAIO, VAIO Message Center, VAIO Update, and VAIO Movie Creator. There’s also the usual assortment of web apps such as iHeart Radio, Hulu Plus, Skype, and Slacker. Sony covers the Duo 13 with a one year warranty and toll-free telephone support.
The Duo 13 is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4200u processor running at 1.6GHz, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU. As such, it turned in impressive scores on our productivity and multimedia benchmark tests. Its PCMark 7 score of 4,535 edged out the Acer Aspire S7-191-6640 (4,526) by a few points and was 132 points higher than the Dell XPS 13-MLK (4,403), but it lagged the Microsoft Surface Pro by 233 points.