Strictly from a devices point of view, the PC market as a whole looks very different than it did two to three years ago. These days, most of the computer makers are focused on building Windows 8-powered notebook computers with a touchscreen. If the machine is
detachable, that is, it can function as a tablet—even more better. After all, the lines of work and play, office and home, and mobile and at rest are all dissolving. In such a scenario, Windows 8-powered hybrids, which combine the best features of laptops, tablets, and even all-in-one desktops, are in demand.
While the currently available
hybrids don’t vary much, I must give points to the Japanese consumer electronics maker Sony for coming up with an inventive device that stands out in the crowd, although you’ll have to pay a hefty premium in case you decide to go in for it. It’s called the Sony Vaio Flip, featuring a unique hinge that provides users with a variety of new ways to use their mobile PCs while still enjoying the full functionality of a traditional clamshell laptop. Yes, you guessed it right! The new Vaio Flip (F13N/F14N/F15N) is an ultra-portable laptop that can convert
into a tablet. Recently, the company sent across its F13N model for a review, giving me a chance to experience its working first-hand. Here are my takeaways:
Sony Vaio Flip: Design
The first thing that will strike you about the Vaio Flip is its design; the concept is based on the essence of ‘sharing with others’. Its unique line design makes it capable of flipping and converting between laptop, tablet and viewer modes by flipping the display over the hinge. The laptop mode comfortably accommodates hectic office-related work, in the same way as conventional notebook computers. In tablet mode, its touch capability is best utilised browsing the web or taking pictures or listening to music. With the viewer mode, the display can be flipped over so that you can share the experience of watching a video or movie with another person or give instant presentation anytime, without worrying for connecting a projector. This makes the Sony machine adaptable for any use, be it for businessmen, professionals, students or the everyday PC user.
The Vaio Flip is structured in a stylish, functional design; its thin chassis is constructed with brushed aluminium hairline finish. The touchscreen notebook comes with Opti-contrast panel, large touch pad and bigger palm rest to give users a comfortable typing experience, as well as a backlit keyboard which allows for work in low-light conditions. Both the keyboard and touchpad are also very well designed, with the backlit keyboard in particular surprisingly easy to use given its smaller size.
Probing inside, Intel’s Core i5-4200U handles all CPU duties, while 4 GB of DDR3-1600MHz provides short term memory. A 128 GB SSD handles the long term memory and Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 4400 are used instead of a discrete GPU. At 1.31 kg, the machine is pretty lightweight too.
Sony Vaio Flip: Performance
Powered on, the first thing that will strike you about the Vaio Flip is the wonderful display, which delivers beautiful, vibrant colours, no surprise given Sony’s TV heritage. The display is a 13.3 inch touchscreen, and Sony hasn’t compromised on the resolution, sticking with the bare minimum to make it truly high definition at 1920 x 1080.
The best part of the Vaio Flip is its speed. It is amazingly fast, and the hardware inside ensures that it’s a real laptop under the hood, without a doubt. Boot-up time too is fast, at less than 10 seconds. The included Intel HD 4400 graphics are good enough to handle some general games. The battery lasts upto 7.5 hours.
Sound experience on the Vaio Flip is widely superior compared to other hybrids, thanks to Sony’s unique sound technologies such as Clear Audio, xLoud, Clear phase, VPT, Voice Zoom and S-FORCE front surround 3D, resulting in a rich audio experience. I must mention that the Clear Audio+TM mode incorporates a variety of Sony’s own signal processing technologies to deliver dynamic bass and soaring highs without distortion. The machine is also tuned to provide optimised sound experience with headphones through Sony Walkman’s technology.
The Exmor RS for PC imaging sensor found on the Vaio Flip makes it possible to take high-resolution images of documents. The back-illuminated CMOS sensor also ensures that there is reduced noise in low-light situations. Vaio Flip F13N has 8 MP rear camera which helps you to capture images instantly. Additionally, it has a dedicated USB port inside charging adaptor for quick smartphone charging. This provides instant charging without blocking USB ports on laptop.
Overall, the Vaio Flip is one of the more attractive hybrids available. It is lightweight and is apt for productivity as well as entertainment purpose.
SONY VAIO FLIP SPECIFICATIONS
* Dimensions: 325.4 x 14.3 x 223.4 mm (W x H x D)
* Display: 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1980
* Processor: Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 1.60 GHz
* Operating system: Windows 8 Single Language
* Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
* Main memory: 4 GB DDR3L SDRAM
* Storage: 128 GB SSD
* Weight: 1.31 kg
Estimated street price: Rs 99,990