Sony Vaio Duo 13

LAP DANCE Is it a laptop? Is it a tablet? Is it any good?

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking Sony’s Vaio Duo 13 is a huge Windows 8 tablet. However, it packs a rather neat little trick up its sleeve: lift the back of the screen and it smoothly slides up and back, revealing a laptop-style keyboard and trackpad. It straddles the middle ground between tablet and laptop, but it still meets Intel’s Ultrabook laptop specifications.

When it’s in tablet mode, it’s definitely the Windows 8 device we’ve been waiting for. It’s capable of running Photoshop, Illustrator and Painter, while staying nicely portable. It doesn’t make it feel like you’re carrying a breeze block in your bag, and it’s perfect for indulging in some digital plein air painting.

Sony includes a pressure-sensitive Digitizer pen with the machine, which undoes the many frustrations we’ve had with our chubby digits in Photoshop. It’s comfortable to hold while accurately responding to strokes, and there are a couple of buttons that also function as mouse buttons when you’re out of Photoshop.

Where the Duo 13 falls down a little is when you switch it to laptop mode. The keyboard is on the cramped side, and the touchpad is a mere sliver beneath the spacebar. That said, it’s preferable to using Windows 8’s onscreen keyboard, and fine for writing short emails or comic book captions.

Within, Sony has included Intel’s latest Haswell processor, which is powerful but efficient — the eight hours of use we got on a full charge is testament to how well optimised it is. The price is a little too steep for our liking: our review unit cost £1,500, but it feels like it should be £500 less. It may not be great for writers, but for artists it’s an amazing piece of kit.

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