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Hands-on review: CES 2014: Sony VAIO Fit 11A review

         

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Sony VAIO Fit 11A review

Sony, like most PC companies, is doubling down on hybrid laptops. The most recent within the Eastern producer’s vary is the VAIO Match 11A. Becoming a member of the in the past-introduced VAIO Fit 14 and 15 models, this 11-inch laptop offers an even thinner and lighter solution, natch.

But under the hood, what’s making that possible is Intel’s latest Pentium processors (Bay Trail M). The model I got a hold of was running on a quad-core (with two virtual cores) N3520 clocked at 2.16GHz with 8GB of RAM on board running 64-bit Windows 8.1 with Photoshop Elements pre-installed – score.

Sony VAIO Fit 11A

Weighing just 2.8 pounds, the Fit 11A will feel feathery in your backpack, but still doesn’t beat dedicated 10-inch slates. After lifting the hybrid laptop myself during CES 2014, it’s easy to understand why Sony went even smaller with its Fit lineup. Pulling off those tricky one-handed shots was a breeze, so I’m a bit more confident in this laptop’s utility as a tablet.

Many, many modes

Sony’s hybrid laptops are an interesting spin on the form, using a double hinge design that allows the screen to flip 180 degrees into a tablet mode or a stand facing opposite the keyboard for a viewing mode. (A third mode that covers the keyboard is also possible, though pointless.) When in laptop mode, you can lock the second hinge to avoid any mishaps.

However, despite the locking mechanism, I felt nervous of dropping the Fit 11A when switching between modes in my hands. Handling the screen while moving it from a laptop to a tablet orientation was a little unwieldy – do this on a flat surface. Regardless, the screen always felt firmly in place on the hinge, evidence of a premium design.

Sony VAIO Fit 11A

Unlike competing offerings, like the Lenovo Yoga 2, the Fit 11A chassis rests inherently at a slight angle. As a result, the tablet mode would make more sense resting on a coffee table or in your lap, giving it some added utility despite it still not quite offering that true tablet experience.

Triluminos … triple the luminance?

Not exactly. Triluminos, Sony’s new display tech borrowed from its 4KTV division, widens the color gamut for deeper, more realistic color reproduction. While the difference is clear on a 65-inch TV, it’s tougher to glean from a 1920 x 1080 touch panel. (Which was quite responsive, mind you.)

Sony VAIO Fit 11A

Granted, I’m not a photo or video professional – perhaps this is half the reason that Photoshop Elements is included in every Fit 11A. At any rate, it’s quite a vibrant panel, as shown by the deep purple in the Windows 8.1 Modern UI background with the pastel blues and reds popping on top of it.

Early verdict

At 11 inches and just 2.8 pounds, Sony’s Fit line of hybrid laptops makes a lot more sense. And that Sony managed to provide a smooth touchpad that’s close to full-size sweetens the deal. Plus, it’s tough to deny that metallic lid finish and matte keyboard with quick travel.

And all that for $799 (about £486, AU$895) isn’t too bad a deal, though I’ve seen 13-inch hybrids for less, like ASUS’s $599 Transformer Book Duet. (And that runs two OSes!) Still, Sony’s premium build quality is tough to match at that price point. The Sony VAIO Fit 11A comes will come in black, pink and silver when it lands later this January.