The VAIO Tap 11 is Sony’s idea of what a Windows tablet should be. And it’s actually pretty good. Even though Sony was late to the Windows 8 tablet party, the VAIO Tap 11 definitely looks like a viable Surface Pro alternative. Read on to find out whether or not this is the Windows tablet you’ve been looking for.
- Intel Pentium 3560Y processor (this review) – Intel Dual Core i5/i7 configurations available
- 4GB DDR3 RAM w/ 128GB SSD for storage (this review) – 8GB RAM/256 SSD configurations available
- 11″ Full HD 1920×1080 TRILUMINOS LCD display w/ IPS technology and Digitizer Support
- USB 3.0, micro HDMI output, Bluetooth v4.0, microSD slot
- Bundled w/ detachable wireless keyboard and N-trig Active Digitizer
Slim and Light – The VAIO Tap 11 has got to be the slimmest and lightest Windows 8 tablet available. To make something this slim and light, Sony’s hardware engineers definitely knew what they were doing. The Tap 11 is a little over 3/8″ thick and still manages to fit a micro HDMI and full USB 3.0 port! And even though the TAP 11 is made out of plastic, Sony was still able to make the tablet look and feel expensive. The Tap 11 is the best looking Windows 8 tablet. Yup, even better than that thick brick of a tablet they call the Surface Pro 2.
Keyboard – The keyboard is wicked thin but very functional at the same time. I had no problem using the keyboard for long periods of time. Even the trackpad and its stiff touch buttons turned out to be very serviceable. For something this thin and portable you really can’t complain. The wireless keyboard also acts as a cover when not in use and the brush aluminum on the back of the keyboard gives the Tap 11 a premium look. It’s something you really appreciate when you have it on. The keyboard also has a pair of LED’s telling you if you have the caps lock on or if the battery is running low. You can even turn off the wireless keyboard manually so you can save it’s charge. Those simple details make the keyboard much more functional and Sony’s engineers should be applauded. However, you do have to be careful with the cover on, since it can slip right off with minimal force despite the presence of a magnet to hold it in place. One other thing to note with the keyboard is that it can only be charged with it covering the tablet. Which means you can’t use the tablet and charge the keyboard at the same time. That might sound negative at first, but in reality you really only need to charge the keyboard once in a while since the battery life on it is pretty decent. I never ran into a situation where it hindered my productivity.
Kickstand – The small kickstand may look very weak, but it’s 100% functional. You can get multiple viewing angles with it and the rubber ends on the stand ensures the tablet will stay in place. You can’t use the kickstand on your lap, but then again who really wants to. If you do, then you’re just going to fry your gonads!
Beautiful Display – With every device that Sony releases, you can count on their display’s to always be legit. The 11.6″ Full HD TRILUMINOS display on the tablet is amazing to use. The display looks clean and sharp while colors looked vibrant without them being over saturated. You’ll also enjoy wide viewing angles due to it’s IPS (In Plane Switching) technology. Whether it’s surfing the web or watching videos, the Tap 11 doesn’t disappoint. It’s probably one of the best Windows 8 tablet displays available today.
Rear and Front Facing Camera – No doubt about it, these cameras are actually decent. They won’t beat out any flagship smartphone cameras, but they are probably one of the best tablet cameras I’ve experienced.
ClearAudio+ – Sony’s unique sound processing technologies definitely let you enjoy some good stereo sound. I was actually surprised by its output. They were loud enough to even enjoy a movie outdoors without having to turn it all the way up.
Rapid Wake – Sony’s Rapid Wake technology is a big plus in my eyes. And it’s one of the features that become really important on the Tap 11 since its battery life is only rated up to 6 hours (real world use is less than 5 hours). Rapid wake let’s you put the tablet to sleep or hibernate without having to wait too long to boot the bad boy back up. The Tap 11 can come out of sleep almost instantly. Better yet, it can come out of hibernation in about 5 seconds.
Sony is one of the few manufacturers that have come up with some useful bloatware. That’s actually quite impressive when you think about it considering you usually uninstall everything once you get things set up.
VAIO Control Center – A nice little control panel that’s quick and easy to use with some advanced settings to change how your PC operates such as battery life, processor performance and network settings.
VAIO Update – Helps you keep your drivers and software up to date without having to manually install them yourself. The software actually performed flawlessly which is somthing you don’t see with similar software from HP, Dell or Lenovo.
VAIO Care Desktop – A nice little piece of software that check’s your PC for any issues. Every time you run the software you feel like you took your PC to a mechanic to get an oil change. You even get a nice little email telling you the results. I really appreciated that.
There are only two issues in my mind that the VAIO Tap 11 might be a deal breaker for some. Especially with the $799 base price, these two gripes might just be enough to stop people from buying it.
The mediocre battery life for the $799 base price might not be worth it. Less than 5 hours on a device you pay close to a $1000 for doesn’t sit too well for most people. In Sony’s defense though, with a device this slim, there is only so much Sony can do in regards to battery life. It’s a tradeoff that you’re going to need to understand but it’s something you can deal with. If you know how to manage your device with it’s in depth power options and utilize it’s Rapid Wake technology, then battery life might not be a problem for you. I was able to stretch out battery life to about 5hours and 40 minutes of on screen time. And that should be plenty of time for you to get some work done before you need to charge it again.
The base model gets you Intel’s Pentium 3560Y and for $799 it might not be worth it. Don’t get me wrong it can get most of your normal work done. For basic operations like web browsing, Office applications, streaming music, viewing HD videos and Light photo editing, it performed quite well. However, you do get some stuttering and occasional freezes that can last a few seconds. Sometimes the touch display wouldn’t register your taps either which led to some frustration depending on your mood. This is something though that can’t be fixed and something you just have to accept. The base model is good enough for students and business professionals. But at the same time it might not be enough for them either. It just depends on your expectations.
If you can get the VAIO Tap 11 base model (Intel 3560Y Pentium processor) for $499 then it’s definitely worth it. You can find it online in various places at this price. Even some Best Buy’s carry it at that price on special sale days which is where I found mine. Otherwise, the base price of $799 Intel 3560Y Pentium model is definitely not worth it for me.
If you aren’t too concerned about battery life and don’t mind the way the keyboard charges and attaches to the tablet, then consider going for the i5 or i7 configurations. The extra processing power would make up for the limited battery life, and make it one sweet device.
The VAIO Tap 11 could have been a triple threat in the Windows 8 tablet world if it only had the battery life to match it’s design and i5/i7 dual core processor. If it did that, then the Surface Pro 2 would actually have a competitor.