Touchscreens all round for Sony's new Vaio range
Computex 2013 is now in full swing in Taipei, Taiwan, and all the major players in the computer hardware industry are showing off their latest products. Sony came prepared with its newest touchscreen Vaio offerings, the mid-range Fit, the hybrid Duo 13, and two lightweight Pro models.
Sony's new Vaio Fit Series of laptops are designed as middle-of-the-road Windows 8 computers for the general consumer. Each one includes the basics for a modern home computer, including 802.11b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, touchpad with gesture support, HD web cam, and Blu-Ray/DVD drive, along with a few extra bells and whistles.
Chief among them is the touchscreen, which comes standard on the Fit 14 and 15 models, but is optional for the 14E/15E. The Fit 14 and 15 models are nearly identical, except for the size of their displays, 14 and 15.5 in respectively. The Fit 15 leads the pack in terms of resolution, packing full HD Resolution (1920 x 1080), while the others display at 1600 x 900 or 1366 x 768 resolution.
Additionally, the new Vaio Fit models support Near Field Communication (NFC), allowing them to instantly connect to NFC-enabled headphones, speakers, and other devices just by touching them together. Sony has also outfitted its new computers with large stereo speakers built into the hinges, though only the 15E has a subwoofer.
All of the new Fit models have hybrid HDD options, providing up to 1 TB of storage with 8 GB of NAND flash memory for faster launch times for applications, while the 14 and 15 also include SSD storage options. The Fit series also includes Intel Core i and Pentium processor options, up to 8 GB of RAM, and integrated Intel HD or discrete NVIDIA GeForce graphics.
With the latter onboard, the Fit model makes use of NVIDIA Optimus technology to automatically boost the laptop's performance for graphics-heavy tasks, such as playing a video game, editing video, or watching a movie.
The hybrid Duo 13 is a completely different animal from the Fit Series and seems primarily aimed towards digital artists, but with a few distinctly tablet-like qualities. For starters, Sony is promising true-to-life color on its 13.3 in Triluminos display, which carries a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
Its main feature though is what Sony calls a "Surf Slider" design, which allows it to transition between keyboard and slate modes without rotating the screen. The multi-touch display will respond to a finger in both modes, but the computer does come packaged with a pressure-sensitive digitizer stylus for more precise sketching or quick note-taking. In fact, the laptop will automatically launch a notepad program by default when the stylus is removed from its holder.
The Duo comes with an 8 MP autofocus camera on the back as well as a 2.07 MP on the front. Aside from taking self portraits, the front-facing camera uses facial recognition software to recognize its owner and unlock the computer without a password. As a handy note-taking feature, the rear-facing camera can scan images showing words with Optical Character Recognition software and then export the text to a notepad program for editing or annotation.
Processor options for the Vaio tablet/notebook run up to Intel Core i7, LPDDR3 RAM maxes out at 8 GB and there's as much as 512 GB of SSD storage on offer. In addition to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, it's also equipped for 3G and LTE mobile connections. It's even bundled with a Wi-Fi router that can create a hotspot, connecting up to five wireless devices as once. Finally, the Duo has a 15-hour battery life.
Finally there's the Vaio Pro Series, comprising two models which Sony notes are the lightest of its touchscreen Ultrabooks. The Pro 11 and Pro 13 weigh a mere 0.87 kg (1.9 lb) and 1.06 kg (2.3 lb) respectively, even with their batteries installed. Their cases are constructed with uni-direction carbon fiber and follow a hexa-shell design, making them both lightweight and durable.
The Pro 11 is outfitted with an 11.6 in screen, while the Pro 13's measures 13.3 in. However, both Triluminos displays are full HD with a 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Each device carries an SSD, the Pro 11 notching up 256 GB of storage versus the Pro 13's 512 GB. Both computers are powered by an Intel Core i7-4500U processor with integrated HD 4400 graphics.
The battery on the Pro 11 will last up to 11 hours, and up to eight hours on the Pro 13. With an optional sheet battery though, each Ultrabook can more than double its battery life, for 25 hours on the Pro 11 and 18 hours on the Pro 13.
Lastly, the Pro series also includes the same hotspot-capable Wi-Fi router as the Duo along with the NFC capabilities of the Fit models.
Price and availability
The Fit Series is currently showing as ready to ship, the Fit 14E starts at US$549, the 15E at $579, the 14 at $799 and the 15 at $849. The other new Vaio models will hit the streets on June 9. The Duo 13 is priced at $1,399, while the Pro 11 costs $1,149 and the Pro 13 comes in at $1,249.