Review: Sony Vaio Tap 11, A Stylish Laptop/Tablet That Misses Its Mark

Looks fantastic, performs horribly

Our score: 2/5
Reviewed: January 17, 2014 2:38 PM
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Published: January 17, 2014 2:38 PM
Updated: January 24, 2014 3:03 PM
By Bénigne Millière
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
The Vaio Tap 11 is Sony's latest hybrid notebook/tablet. With an 11.6-inch Full HD display, one of Intel's new Pentium processors and a sleek, modern physique, it has all the right cards in its hand to become one of the market's top-selling hybrids. But has Sony played them right?

Design3/5



IMG 8927

Meet the hybrid tablet/laptop, version Sony 2013/14. The tablet's chassis is made of a soft-touch white plastic that doesn't collect smudges.

IMG 8926

The back of the keyboard is made of brushed aluminium and the top is the same white plastic as the back of the screen. The whole looks great with the keyboard in closed position on top of the tablet/display, at which point the Tap 11 measures a more than reasonable 188 x 304.6 x 9.9 mm. In notebook form with the keyboard attached it weighs 1.35 kg and as a tablet alone it weighs 830 grams.

IMG 8965

The keyboard and screen interact wirelessly via Bluetooth, so you use them detached from one another. The only time you physically attach them is when you're charging the keyboard, which latches onto the display via a magnetic connector. The fact that the two are detached can be truly practical in certain situations, but since it uses Bluetooth, when you put it in airplane mode you can't use the keyboard anymore. That's a serious issue for something that's also supposed to be a laptop computer. The chiclet keys provide a nice stroke and Sony included a stylus that's precise and easy to handle.

IMG 8929(2)
IMG 8930(5)


The Tap 11 has very few ports: one lonely USB 3.0 port, a micro-HDMI output, a microSD card reader and a headphone/microphone combo jack. Thankfully the wireless connectivity is better: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 + HS and NFC. The Wi-Fi is stable at -43 dBm from 5 metres away and 50 dBm from 10 metres away.

Thermique

The body didn't overheat when we tested it. We measured a maximum of 34.8°C when running full blast with the components stressed, and the fan stays quiet (max. 37.8 dB(A)).

Display2/5



The Vaio Tap 11 has an 11.6-inch IPS display with 1920 x 1080 pixels and Sony's Triluminos technology. With maximum brightness of 221 cd/m², the screen doesn't have enough oomph to ward off reflections, although it has good viewing angles and nice contrast (987:1).

Sony Vaio Tap 11-  température de couleursGrey colour temperature
Sony Vaio Tap 11  - gammaGamma
Sony Vaio Tap 11  - Delta EDelta E


The colour temperature is quite good at an average of 6,927 K, which is close to the ideal 6,500 K, but the fidelity is just off the charts (in a bad way) with a Delta E of 9.5. The human eye can't detect colour inaccuracies below a Delta E of 3, so 9.5 is way off, making for highly unnatural, exaggerated tones.

Audio2/5



Not much is salvable in the audio section. The built-in speakers have absurdly low volume and are located right where your hands block them whenever you hold the Tap 11 as a tablet.

Audio new(1)

The headphone output offers fairish sound without much background noise, but the volume is just as paltry as on the speakers.


Configuration:

The model we were sent to review is the SVT1121C5E, which features an Intel Pentium 3560Y processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD in its lowest configuration. The observations above refer to all versions of the Sony Vaio Tap 11, whereas the comments below apply only to the model we tested (see Models, Specs & Options at the bottom of this page). Available models and configurations may also vary depending on the country/region in which you live.

Processing Power3/5



Sony sent us the least expensive, least impressive model of the Vaio Tap 11 in terms of processing power. This is the first time we've tested a Pentium 3560Y, a dual-core CPU clocked at 1.3 GHz.

We changed our performance graph for this test by getting rid of the Windows Live Movie Maker results so we could compare the new generation of the Pentium processor with the previous generations and its current competitors. As you can see in the graph, the Pentium 3560Y is clearly similar in performance to the last generation of Core i3's, and higher in performance than the Atom Z3740 found in the Asus Transformer Book T100TA and the Pentium 987 found in the VivoBook X202E.
Sans titre 1(1)

We also subjected the Vaio Tap 11 to our tablet tests, in which it outperformed even the best-rated tablet processors in the business, such as the A7 (iPad Air), the Snapdragon 800 and the Tegra 4!

Gaming1/5



Don't expect to get extraordinary gaming out of the Vaio Tap 11. At the controls is an Intel HD 4200 Mobile, which will only allow you to run tablet-variety games found on Windows Store and older PC games that don't require much graphics power.
Sans titre 2

Battery Life2/5



Sony says the Vaio Tap 11 gets 9½ hours of battery life, but in our standard test (continuous video playback in airplane mode with the screen brightness at 100 cd/m² and headphones plugged in) it only lasted 3 hours and 45 minutes. That's low indeed for a portable hybrid; the average for devices like this is closer to 6 hours.
2/5 Sony Vaio Tap 11 DigitalVersus 2014-01-17 15:38:00

Pros

  • Looks great, quality design
  • Good screen contrast
  • Pentium processor performs similarly to the previous generation of Core i3's

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Unnatural colours onscreen
  • Keyboard only works via Bluetooth
  • Not enough ports
  • Low gaming capabilities

Conclusion

The Sony Vaio Tap 11 is a stylish, well-designed machine. Unfortunately, it works much better as a tablet than as a laptop, and even as a tablet it suffers from a severely flawed screen, so-so processing power and low battery life. How could we even think of giving it more than two stars?

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