Hands-on: Sony Vaio Fit 11a

Sony’s Vaio Fit 11A is notebook with an 11.6 inch display that you can flip over so that it’s flat against the keyboard, allowing you to use the computer as a tablet. Sony has offered larger Fit models since 2013, but the company’s getting ready to launch its first 11.6 inch model in February with a starting price of $799.

After spending a few minutes with a demo model, I have to say I really like the design.

flip 11a_04

I was worried that at 2.8 pounds the Fit 11A would be too heavy to use as a tablet… and it is kind of heavy compared to an iPad or Samsung tablet. But the weight is well distributed and the computer is thin enough to easily grip in one hand. I wouldn’t want to do that for very long, but I could easily imaging sitting on the couch playing a game, reading a book, or surfing the web with this tablet.

Flip the screen back over to laptop mode, and you’ve basically got all the functionality of a Windows notebook, including a full-sized keyboard and touchpad.

The machine I saw has an Intel Pentium N3520 Bay Trail processor with a TDP of 7.5 watts, a 1920 x 1080 pixel display, 4GB of RAM, and a solid state drive. It also features an N-Trig digitizer, although I didn’t have an opportunity to test pen performance.

It has two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a full-sized HDMI port, and SD card slot.

Sony also plans to offer models with Haswell chips and support for up to an Intel Core i5 processor. Those’ll probably cost a lot more than $799 though.

The machinism for flipping the screen is pretty nifty. Basically you push back the top of the lid and it flips over a divider in the bottom of half of the lid until it’s facing away from the keyboard instead of toward it. Then you close the lid and you have a tablet.

The battery on the unit I was testing died before I could shoot my demo video, but you can get a look at the Flip 11a’s design and flipping mechanism in the video below.

Sony plans to launch the 2-in-1 tablet in late February.

Update: I found another demo unit, this time with Sony’s digital pen. The pen feels pretty good, pressure-sensitivity seems to work, and my only complaint would be that there’s no dedicated place to store the pen when it’s not in use.

  • CheapMonk

    Congrats to Sony designers for finding this trick ; one of the main point i see is that the bulk of the machine stays below the keyboard not behind the screen like other convertibles.

  • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

    Nice! I’ve played with the Vaio Flip 13 in Best Buy and I like it a lot. In the smaller form factor, I think I would like it even more. Goes on my list of potential machines when I upgrade later this year.

  • TrackSmart

    Looks nice, but I’m surprised it weighs almost the same as the 13″ model. It is not heavy for a laptop, but the tablet functionality would benefit from considerably less heft.

    Also, in playing with 16:9 aspect ratio convertibles, it is striking how awkward they are in portrait mode. They seem much too tall and narrow for web browsing and reading books/magazines. A 16:10 ratio would make a big difference. Mini-tablet makers seemed to have figured this out (check out all of the 8″ Windows tablets which are 16:10 aspect ratio and meant to be used in portrait by default). I wonder if someone will give us a Windows convertible laptop in this aspect ratio.

    • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

      I suspect the weight is largely the battery. I would prefer 16:10 like my Macbook I must soon replace. Actually, what I’d really like is the 3:2 aspect ratio of the Chromebook Pixel but running Windows.

    • michael99uk

      All windows and android tablets should come in 16:10 even the 10 and 11inches ones I don’t know what our manufacturers are thinking watching a movie is not all I do on a tablet