Trending December 2023 # Sony Launches 21Mp Xperia Z1 Phone, Sleek Smartwatch 2 And Powerful Lens Attachments # Suggested January 2024 # Top 15 Popular

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The IFA 2013 show is now underway in Berlin, Germany and the consumer electronics giant Sony has just wrapped up its major keynote which saw the official announcement of a brand new flagship smartphone, the 4G LTE-enabled Xperia Z1. Previously code-named the Honami, the Android smartphone combines the very best of Sony’s technology and boats “a groundbreaking camera experience”.

More on that a bit later. The Japanese company also unveiled a second-generation smartwatch and launched two all-new powerful camera lens accessories. Jump past the fold for cold hard facts…

Tapping Sony’s cameraphone expertise, the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean device comes outfitted with a 20.7-megapixel camera and runs a speedy quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, clocked at an impressive 2.2GHz.

It also boasts a five-inch display with Sony’s Triluminos technology and full HD 1,920-by-1,080 pixel resolution. It surely doesn’t hurt that the Xperia Z1 is waterproof.

The device sure looks sleek.

I’ll let Sony do the talking:

Its stunning looks combine Sony’s acclaimed OmniBalance design with premium materials and precision engineering in a slim waterproof and dust resistant smartphone (IP55 & IP58).

A solid one-piece aluminum frame with tempered glass on the front and back ensures beauty and durability as well as a consistent viewing experience from any angle.

Check out the promo vid below.

Not only does it has a 20.7-megapixel sensor – which puts it in the prosumer category – but also comes with Sony’s excellent G Lens with a 27mm wide angle and bright F2.0 aperture. But wait, we’re only getting started.

There’s also a large custom-made 1/2.3-type Exmor RS mobile CMOS image sensor and an on-board dedicated Bionz processing engine for mobile. Typically found in Sony’s compact digital cameras – and now powering the company’s new smartphone camera lens attachment – the Bionz chip is used to accelerate processing of high-resolution images.

In fact, the Xperia Z1 can be paired with the just-released Cyber-shot QX10 and QX100 lens cameras.

The included suite of Xperia Camera apps deliver a range of interesting features, including live social broadcasting, as depicted on the image top of post. You can also point the phone at landmarks to get all sorts of useful information.

The Xperia Z1 can take up to 61 images in two seconds, letting you choose the perfect shot. Another sweet capability: one camera app has a nice overlay of customizable animations to create cool pictures using Sony’s SmartARTM augmented reality technology.

In addition to a tripod (below), Sony is also selling the Smart Imaging Stand IPT-DS10M accessory which helps the Z1 detect smiles without the need to hold the handset.

Sony’s Smartphone Tripod SPA-MK20M provides extra stability.

Sony’s Smartphone Tripod SPA-MK20M provides extra stability.

Sony claims the combination of these technologies delivers the same level of quality and performance as a conventional compact digital camera in a slim, waterproof smartphone. High shutter speeds and 3x clear image zoom also “prevents shots from being blurred while enabling them to be captured at distance”.

Check out the Xperia Z1 camera promo below.

According to a media release, the Xperia Z1 has a massive 3000 mAh battery and will launch globally from September 2013 in black, white and purple color variants.

Preloaded Sony apps include Sony’s Walkman (22 million songs through Sony’s Music Unlimited service), Movies (more than 150,000 movies and TV shows through Video Unlimited2 from Sony Entertainment Network) and more.

The device also come with PlayMemories Online, a cloud-based image and video service integrated right into the Album app, with an All Sync feature letting you auto-upload all your photos “without storage limitation” due to the images being resized to 1,920 pixels wide.

Check out the additional Xperia Z1 information on the Sony Mobile website.

In addition to the new flagship smartphone, Sony unsurprisingly introduced the QX10 and QX100 camera lens attachments that latch magnetically onto your iPhone or Android device.

The accessories pack in a standalone sensor with Carl Zeiss optics – the same used by the Nikon 1 system – and as such are basically complete cameras in their own right that basically relegate your smartphone to a glorified real-time viewfinder.

The $250 QX10 has an 18.2-megapixel CMOS sensor with a 10x zoom lens, the same sensor and lens of Sony’s $400 WX150 Cyber-shot camera. The more powerful $500 QX100 (now available on Amazon) has a 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor with a 2/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens, the same sensor-lens pairing from the Sony RX100 point-and-shoot camera (the most praised sensor for high-end compact cameras).

There’s also a gold variant, just in case.

I’m loving the official ad: it’s quite smart in showing off the remote shutter capability – that alone allows for some interesting shots that are not necessarily possible with your phone’s built-in camera.

Both accessories feature a Bioniz processor and connect with your smartphone over Wi-Fi (or NFC), using Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app that will be hitting the App Store later this month. The QX100 comes equipped with a dedicated control ring for camera-like adjustment of manual focus and zoom, which is super nice.

Finally, a second-generation Sony smartwatch is now official.

Billed as the “world’s first Android-compatible smartwatch with one-touch NFC”, the Sony SmartWatch 2 uses as a second screen for the Xperia Z1 and lets you read messages, handle calls, access notifications, trigger the Xperia Z1 camera shutter and more. It’s water-resistant, has NFC and sports a 1.6-inch transflective LCD screen with a rather paltry 220-by-176 resolution.

Preloaded apps include SMS/MMS, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, music remote extension/music handling, Calendar, Weather, to name a few.

Sony says it’s working closely with developers “for even more optimized apps”, including companion smartwatch camera apps to enhance the Xperia Z1 experience. Sony shared little in terms of price points and availability other than noting the new smartwatch is “coming soon”.

What do you think about Sony’s announcements?

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Meet Pebble 2 And Pebble Time 2, The Smartwatch Contrarians

Meet Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2, the smartwatch contrarians

Pebble is revamping its smartwatch range, launching two new wearables – Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 – along with a new, time-saving Actions interface. As Google’s Android Wear and Apple’s WatchOS both compete to add more complexity and standalone functionality, Pebble is steadfastly going the other way: trying, company co-founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky explained to me, to figure out how to help people spend as little time as possible interacting with their watch.

For Pebble, it’s a return to Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform where the startup set records for the amount of money raised for a project.

Pebble 2 replaces the original Pebble – which has stuck around for an impressive three years, selling more than a million units in that time – with a more refined, but still affordable, upgrade. On the outside the rough design is similar, only now the low-power display is optically bonded to a sheet of toughened, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass.

There’s also a microphone for sending voice messages, among other things, and a heart rate monitor on the back. 30 meter water resistance is included, but if you’ve already got a collection of Pebble straps you’ll be pleased to hear the standard 22mm attachment is the same.

Inside, there’s the guts of the original Pebble Time, along with a week’s worth of battery life. It’ll be offered in five colors and priced at $99, and will ship in September 2023.

For those looking for something a little smarter, there’s Pebble Time 2. Identical in size to the existing Pebble Time, the biggest change is the much larger display to address criticisms about oversized bezels. It’s still color e-paper, but now more than 50-percent larger than before, and with 80-percent more pixels. That means, though it’s still compatible with all the existing Pebble apps, you can read twice as much text on-screen at a time.

The casing is still stainless steel – available in black, gold, or silver – and there’s a microphone and heart rate monitor, but thanks to switching exclusively to Bluetooth LE, battery life is 10 days even with the bigger display.

It’s priced at $169, and is expected to ship in November 2023.

Both watches get a new version of Pebble OS, intended to make everyday interactions more streamlined. In fact, the improvements in the update are focused entirely on addressing the big question Pebble remains preoccupied with: just how much can you do from your wrist before you need to pull out your phone?

“How do we do more on the watch without the complexity rising?” Pebble’s Eric Migicovsky asked, rhetorically, when he walked me through the new wearables. The answer is Actions, effectively singular-purpose shortcuts that are the proactive “do” counterpart to the “tell” of the Pebble Timeline UI.

Hit the top button on the right side of the smartwatch, and you get a list of Actions: each the primary function of an app. The texting app might default to sending a message to a single person – Migocovsky says Pebble’s research suggests most wearers have a single individual they contact with their watch the most – while the Uber app might summon a car to your current location.

“I think [contextual organization] is going to be the primary interface for wearables,” Migocovsky predicts.

Actions themselves are Javascript web calls, and will be publishable in the Pebble app store. Exactly what they’re preset to do will be customizable in each app, but the idea is to keep things super-simple: after all, Migocovsky argues, at a certain point it just becomes easier to “take out your phone.”

NOW READ: Pebble Core packs Spotify in a tiny wearable for runners

It’s a starkly different strategy to that of Google and Apple, which have each been working to make their wearable platforms operate in more of a standalone manner. Android Wear 2.0’s addition of an on-screen keyboard, for instance, along with support for native cellular connectivity position smartwatches running the OS as independent devices; in contrast, Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 each remain dependent on your phone, albeit with support for periods of independence such as when exercising.

Which strategy will succeed remains to be seen, though Pebble’s approach does have benefits: when your primary mobile computing is left to a smartphone, your watch can be simpler, cheaper, and have a longer-lasting battery.

You can order the Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 now, through the company’s Kickstarter page. Retail pricing will be $129 for Pebble 2 and $199 for Pebble Time 2.

MORE Pebble

Best Sony Xperia Xz2 Cases

Sony unveiled the Xperia XZ2 and the Xperia XZ2 Compact back in February 2023, at the Mobile World Congress, but it can now be yours to own (snag the best deal here). 

If you already own the Xperia XZ2 (or its Compact companion), you probably know that it is the first phone to record in full 4K and HDR, features an always-on fingerprint sensor, and is waterproof. The XZ2 is also all glass – curved 3D Gorilla Glass 5, but glass nonetheless. Read our full review of the Xperia XZ2 and the XZ2 Compact. We’ve also looked into  which one is better.

If you already feel wary of impending scratches and drops, here are some cases that could keep your XZ2 in great shape for longer. Many of the cases also have XZ2 Compact versions as well.

KuGi’s case has been designed specifically for the XZ2 to allow easy access to the speakers, ports and buttons. It only does cover the back of your phone though, so you may need an additional screen protector if you’re accident-prone (like most of us).

The anti-slip polycarbonate shell provides protection against scratches and shock, and also keeps your device dust-free. And if you’re not too fond of the gold, you can find the Frosted case in blue (£4.95/$US7.95) and black (£3.95/US$7.95).

The case is also available for the Xperia XZ2 Compact for £29.95/ US$5.50, though it is currently on sale for only £3.95. KuGi has a lifetime warranty and a 30-day refund policy on their products to make you feel even safer.

The Olixar FlexiShield is a lightweight silicone case that comes with a non-slip coating for butterfingers. It also has a raised bezel edge around the screen and camera areas to prevent unwanted scratches and scuffs.

This FlexiShield is available in blue (pictured) and black. You can find it for the the XZ2 Compact ( £4.99/ US$6.99) in those colours as well. Both models come with a 2-year warranty.

Another lithe yet durable case from Olixar is the ExoShield. Like the FlexiShield, this case comes with a non-slip coating and raised bezel edges to keep your camera and screen scratch-free. There are also cut-outs for access to all buttons and ports.

For those who prefer it, this is your no-nonsense snap-on bumper case. The ExoShield also comes in a clear design (£9.99/ US$11.99), if you want to show off the all-glass natural beauty of your XZ2.

You can find the XZ2 Compact version for £9.99/US$11.99 on Mobile Fun UK and Mobile Fun US.

We would be remiss to leave out the ArmourDillo from Olixar, a style we mention in many of our best cases round ups – and for good reason. The ArmourDillo, like its name suggests, offers rugged all-round protection.

It’s composed of two polycarbonate layers that piece together, offering shock absorption while still being lightweight. It also has raised bezel edges and a textured finish for additional non-slip protection. We also like its built-in viewing stand.

Keep your Xperia XZ2 and your valuable cards all in the same place with this wallet case from G-Hawk. This case will keep your phone protected from all the little horrors of phone upkeep: scratches, shock, fingerprints and dust.

The outer shell is reinforced with steel, which means your device will remain protected from sharp objects as well. Meanwhile, the microfibre interior lining keeps your screen scratch-free.

This case is made of synthetic leather, but considering it costs less than a fiver, you can’t really go wrong. The G-Hawk case is only available in the UK, but US shoppers can find similar wallet cases  from KuGi for US$8.99.

This case from BoseWek has a leather-grain texture on the back and silicone strips on the sides to prevent slips and drops. Its lightweight, elegant, and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

The BoseWek is available in both blue (£7.95) and black (£6.95), though only in the UK.

The iBetter flip case is simple, elegant and lightweight. It allows easy access to all ports and buttons, while protecting your Xperia XZ2 from scratches, bumps, dust, and dirt. The cover also folds into a stand for hands-free viewing.

If you run into any issues, iBetter offers lifetime technical support and a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. This case is not available on Amazon US. 

iBetter offers a lifetime warranty on this case. While not available on Amazon US, US shoppers can find a similar case from KuGi for US$5.50 + $3 shipping.

This clear case is a great option for those who want to show off the 3D curved glass glory of their Xperia XZ2. The cutouts on this case also allow easy access to ports, buttons and speakers.

It’s made of poly-carbonate (PC) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and uses “Air Cushion Technology” – all fancy ways of saying it will keep your phone scratch free, slip-resistant, and safe from unforeseen drops.

Here’s another great option from KuGi that’s durable and stylish. This PU leather wallet case, as you can expect, has slots for credit/debit and ID cards, though like Sony’s Style case, also converts into a stand.

The case is lightweight, offers easy access to ports, speakers, and buttons, and stays closed with a magnetic fastener.

It’s available in black but you can also find it in a vibrant blue, red, or lime green (pictured). It’s less than £5 on Amazon if you choose the black version, and comes with a six-month manufacturer’s warranty – what more could you ask for?

Of course, it would be silly to ignore Sony’s own offerings. If you’re looking for a case that’s sure to fit and offer protection, you can turn to the manufacturer itself. 

Sony’s Style Cover Stand, as you can guess, folds into a stand for the Xperia XZ2. Sure, we’ve seen this before and it’s nothing mind-blowing, but it’s still a nifty feature to have.

What’s more nifty? Opening and closing the case wakes and puts your phone to sleep. The Style Cover Stand is available for the XZ2 Compact as well, and in a variety of colours: grey, green, black and pink. You can find all colours and models on Mobile Fun UK and Mobile Fun US.

Sony Xperia 2: What We Want To See From Sony’S Next Flagship

Original article: The Sony Xperia 1, announced in February 2023, was less than perfect. Sony took a gamble on the phone by stretching the screen’s shape from the preferred 19.5:9 aspect ratio to the exceedingly awkward 21:9. The company did the same thing with the Xperia 5, and the 10, and 10 Plus mid-rangers. The move didn’t pay off for Sony. Now that we’re on the cusp of the Sony Xperia 2’s potential announcement window at MWC 2023, it’s worth weighing what will and will not work for Sony as it continues to seek smartphone success.

Here are five things we want to see in the next flagship Sony Xperia smartphone.

See also: Worst phone names ranked

3. Better cameras

Sony has an incredible heritage in imaging. Just look at its Alpha line of mirrorless cameras. The Alpha 7 III was on nearly every camera publication’s “Best Pic” list throughout 2023, and the new A7R IV and A9 II are even better. Somehow, Sony’s success with its Alpha cameras has not translated to success with its phone cameras.

Every year, Sony claims to have solved its camera woes. This year, things will be better, it assures us, year after year, and yet the resulting images just don’t match those from class leaders Samsung, Google, and Apple. It is vital that Sony solve this problem. The industry has widely settled on the ultra-wide, standard, and telephoto arrangement as far as lenses are concerned. Not only does Sony need to deliver this expected setup, it has to knock picture quality out of the park too.

It wouldn’t hurt to offer best-in-class video and audio capture, as well.

See also: The best Sony cameras to spend your money on

4. Seamless experiences

Anyone invested in the Apple ecosystem enjoys simple, cross-product compatibility that few other device makers offer. It’s easy to move content from MacBook to iPhone to Apple TV. Google is a close second, and Samsung isn’t far off, either. Can Sony up its game to match these competitors?

Sony makes far more than just phones. It manufactures television sets and Blu-Ray players, soundbars and in-home audio equipment, and simple cameras alongside cinematic camcorders. Sony is also an entertainment company, with entire divisions devoted to movies, music, and PlayStation gaming. Sony has tried over the years to build an ecosystem that works well for consumers (cough, PlayStation tie-ins, cough), but it hasn’t assembled the puzzle pieces in just the right way yet. It should.

Consumers could come out winners if Sony nails the cross-device content play.

5. The (affordable) kitchen sink

Perhaps most importantly, Sony has to keep the price point in check. The Sony Xperia 1 retailed for $949 and didn’t see substantive price cuts until the holiday season. Sony can’t charge this much for the Xperia 2 unless the flagship goes toe-to-toe with its competitors in features and performance.

Yeah, I’m asking a lot. Asking Sony to essentially rethink its entire phone strategy mere weeks before we may see the Sony Xperia 2 is folly, but Sony Mobile needs the kick in the pants.

What do you think? What should Sony do to bring its smartphone business back from the brink?

Sony Xperia Xa2, Xa2 Ultra And L2 Officially Unveiled

After numerous leaks and chatter by the rumor mill, Sony has officially unveiled its latest Xperia phones in the budget segment. Sony has received quite an earful from the mobile community for its dated boxy designs, but it seems unfazed to launch a brand new set of smartphones continuing this design language.

All three have a fingerprint sensor centred on the rear, which is a first for Sony Xperia phones. The designs may not appeal to fans of newer flagships, but let’s take a quick look at what Sony has to offer:

Xperia XA2

Sony markets the XA2 as a camera-first smartphone. It has included the 23MP f/2.3 Exmor sensor, with 4K and 120 fps slow-motion video capabilities on the rear and 120-degree super wide-angle 8MP camera up front. It packs a 3,300 mAh battery pack, along with quick charging support.

There is currently no info on the pricing, but the Xperia XA2 Ultra will be made available in four color variants, namely silver, black, blue and pink. You’ll see both single and dual-SIM variants depending on the market.

Xperia XA2 Ultra


The cameras on the front feature both a 16MP and 8MP sensor (120-degree super wide-angle), along with OIS and LED flash to get better clarity in low-light selfies. The rear camera, on the other hand, features a 23MP f/2.3 Exmor sensor, with 4K and 120 fps slow-motion video recording capabilities. It also packs a 3,580 mAh battery, coupled with Quick Charge technology.

Sony itself is aware of the blandness of its Xperia XA2 smartphones, such that Sony’s EVP of Global Sales and Marketing, Hideyuki Furumi said:

Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra are no different, with leading front camera technology first seen in our flagship XZ line.

There is currently no info on the pricing, but the Xperia XA2 Ultra will be made available in four color variants, namely silver, black, blue and gold. You’ll see both single and dual-SIM variants depending on the market.

Xperia L2

The Xperia L2, on the other hand, is a budget alternative to the XA2 models that packs a decent set of specs. It features a large 5.5-inch HD screen, but the processor and RAM details are still unknown. It also includes a 3,300mAh battery, which should be enough to easily last you a day.

Since the company is laying emphasis on the camera setup, the Xperia L2 also sports a 120-degree super wide-angle 8MP front sensor and 13MP f/2.0 camera on the back to make sure you never forget to capture those picture-perfect moments.

The Xperia L2 will be made available in three color variants, namely black, gold and pink. You’ll see both single and dual-SIM variants depending on the market.

An Overview

Talking about the software, both the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra are powered by the latest flavor of Android, i.e 8.0 Oreo, out of the box. The design is not the only thing that’s stale about the L2. It didn’t make the cut for Oreo on release and is powered by Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box. Seriously, Sony?

All of these smartphones, i.e the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra will be available for purchase in February, whereas the Xperia L2 will land in late January.

Sony Vaio Tap 11 Ultrabook Review: Sleek And Sexy, But Far Too Slippery

The rush is on to offer tablet PCs with ever stronger laptop alter egos, and Sony makes a splash with its new VAIO Tap 11. It’s a full Windows 8 tablet PC, impossibly thin and light, with a gorgeous screen and an even thinner keyboard cover at no additional charge.

The VAIO Tap 11 is not the carefree experience one hopes for from a tablet. It’s surprisingly fiddly and awkward as an on-the-go PC.

Now for a dose of reality. In spite of the Tap 11’s great looks and high-octane silicon, Sony made too many compromises in its pursuit of marketing superlatives: It’s the thinnest, lightest 2-in-1 Ultrabook you can buy. But it’s merely an okay tablet and, at best, it’s a short-term stand-in for a notebook. You can find much better choices at the Tap 11’s $1100 price level—notably the Surface Pro 2 ($999 for the 4GB RAM/128GB storage model plus $130 for its keyboard cover).

The VAIO Tap 11 is sexy enough to earn a look at its high points first. As I’ve already mentioned, Sony managed to stuff an impressive amount of computing prowess into this small frame, which is similar in size to letter paper and only four-tenths of an inch thick. Its 11.6-inch screen, with its resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, looks great and is very responsive to the touch. It has an 8MP camera on the back and a 2MP webcam above the display.


The narrow kickstand and detached keyboard make it impossible to actually use the VAIO Tap 11 as a laptop on your lap.

Sony’s VAIO Tap 11 is a real Windows 8 Ultrabook, but so is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2, and we like that 2-in-1 a lot more.

The speeds and feeds are impressive, and I found some welcome design elements, too. But overall the VAIO Tap 11 is not the carefree and fun experience one hopes to get from a tablet. And for an on-the-go PC, it’s surprisingly fiddly and awkward.

Turns out, the keyboard attaches to the panel only magnetically. You can’t clip the two components together for transport. A tiny three-pin connector at the bottom right corner of the screen charges the battery in this wireless Bluetooth keyboard—and that’s the only way to charge it. If the keyboard runs out of juice, you can only tap on the screen—as slow and error-prone as that might be. Alternatively, you can plug another keyboard into the tablet’s lone USB 3.0 port, although chances are small to nil that you’d be carrying along a backup wired keyboard with you on the road. 


Whoever said, “you can never be too thin” was wrong, at least when it comes to computer keyboards.

The Tap 11’s kickstand does beat the one on the Surface Pro in that you can position the screen at the exact angle you want; however, it’s so narrow (less than an inch wide) that it’s hard to set up the panel on anything but a large, stable, and flat surface, such as a desk. Although you can place the Surface Pro 2’s kickstand in only one of two positions, it’s far more stable because it’s as wide as the tablet itself.

Finishing my plate of porchetta, I headed into the throng to see if the Tap 11 would redeem itself in its tablet persona. First, I had to figure out where to stash the keyboard. I slipped it keys-up under the panel, but that arrangement didn’t last because the pair is so slippery. And the keyboard’s so flimsy, I couldn’t just stuff it into my bag, lest it flex and break. I ended up sandwiching the keyboard between two books to protect it.


They detachable keyboard’s touchpad is much too sensitive. 

Keyboard stowed carefully away, I was free to use the Tap 11 as a tablet. It works fine as a mobile slate, if you don’t mind cradling 1.7 pounds of computer while you scroll through and read webpages. Some people will happily do that and benefit from the Tap 11’s spacious 11.6-inch screen. Others will prefer the lighter, one-pound iPad Air, even if it means dropping down to a 9.7-inch display.

Another task for which bigger isn’t always better: taking photos and video. The 8MP rear camera produced excellent images, but the panel’s so big, it’s very hard to shoot discreetly and on-the-fly. Several times while shooting the colorful produce, I had market-goers ask me to leave them out of my shots.

As with most slates, you can enter text either by tapping on the on-screen keyboard or by writing with the supplied digitizer pen. The screen keyboard is big and it works well enough, but the writing system needs work. When you scribble along, the recognition system looks ahead too eagerly and often interprets characters incorrectly at first, even though it usually gets it right eventually—if you keep writing. Trouble is, you have to fight the urge to go back and correct it. Also, recognition can take a long time even for simple characters.

Less forgivable is the kludgy pen holder. Instead of a silo to securely house the pen, Sony opted for a small, fragile, and eminently losable plastic holder that clips on the upper left side of the panel. That’s a great location for southpaws, but it’s awkward for right-handers. Even worse, that clip covers the hatch to the USB and HDMI ports, blocking access to those connectors. I often had to root around inside my bag to find the pen after it popped out of its holder. At $40 a pop, the pen’s an expensive item to lose. You can also write with your fingertip, but the pen works much better.

Battery life isn’t one of the VAIO Tap 11’s strong suits. (Note: Subsequent battery run-down tests on the Surface Pro 2, following a firmware update, yielded 7 hours of useful life.)

Speaking of slow, the Tap 11 can take a long time—sometimes 5 seconds or more— to orient the display when you turn the screen from landscape to portrait mode or vice versa, and it can be finicky if you hold the panel at an angle. Occasionally the display even stays upside down in landscape mode until you rotate the Tap 11 again. Isn’t this the kind of thing that a faster processor and more memory is supposed to speed up and improve?

The Tap 11 performs well, for a 2-in-1. Its WorldBench 8.1 score of 249 places it solidly in the pack of Core i5 and Core i7 mobiles, although it noticeably trails the Surface Pro 2. As with most very small machines, the Tap 11 is pathetic at playing hardcore games. Running Bioshock Infinite even at the lowest-res setting (1024 by 768), the Tap 11 eked out only 12 frames per second. That’s no surprise considering the absence of a discrete GPU. 

Sony seems to have sacrificed battery life in its quest to make the Tap 11 super thin and light. This tablet lasted a middling 4.5 hours on the PCWorld test bench, and I got less in my hands-on use. The Surface Pro 2 with 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage ran 2.5 hours longer, and Dell’s XPS 11 ran an hour longer. 

The VAIO Tap 11 is beautiful and ambitious. I really wanted to like it, but it just has too many drawbacks. If you need a big tablet that can run Windows 8, take another look at the Surface Pro 2. It performs better, and you can attach its keyboard to its display to make a portable PC that’s much easier to use.

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