In the race to create a laptop that takes advantage of Windows 8's touch-friendly interface, manufacturers have developed a plethora of sliding and rotating laptop-tablet hybrids. While it already has the sliding Duo, Sony is introducing a new design with the VAIO Flip Series. Joining the existing 13-inch and 15-inch models is a new 11-inch version called the VAIO Fit 11A Flip PC. Smaller and lighter than the previous Flip PCs, this new ultraportable model weighs 2.8 pounds, and makes use of the same Sony TV Triluminos technology that has already worked its way into other Sony laptops.
The flip screen
These laptops have a screen that can flip 180 degrees and then fold against the keyboard. Add in long battery life and good sound and you have a mostly satisfying laptop-first combo device. Release the latch above the keyboard and the screen spins through 180 degrees, strong magnets snapping it into place. That done, you can fold the screen flat against the laptop's body and use it as a tablet, or tilt it up and use the keyboard base as a stand.
The 13-inch Sony Vaio Flip hybrid laptop is made using brushed aluminium (lid cover) and matte plastic (bottom). Despite quality materials, the tablet is not very solid; in fact, when we applied just a little force, the bottom (made of plastic) flexed quite a bit and even creaked. This shook our faith in the durability of the Flip 13N a little.
When it comes to portability, the Vaio Flip 13N is one of the best models in the market right now. Despite a 13-inch screen, it weighs just 1.3kg and feels quite light in the hand, especially compared to the likes of Dell XPS 12. If you are intent on buying a convertible laptop and not a tablet, but want a light model, then this model is a good bet.
The keyboard is backlit and feels good to type on; the trackpad is quite large and the buttons are sufficiently tactile.
The new Sony model has a 13-inch touchscreen with Triluminous Display technology, which also goes in its smartphones and tablets. We are not big fans of this technology and find that it does not fare well in direct sunlight. However, we will reserve judgement on the unit until a full review. Nevertheless, what we did see at the launch event (under optimal lighting condition) gives the impression that the display is decent, but nothing to brag about.
Under the hood, Vaio Flip 13N packs the fourth-generation dual-core Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 1.6GHz and 4GB RAM and is powered by Windows 8 operating system. We have encountered this configuration before and were pretty happy with the results. During our hands-on also, the laptop was quite fast and could perform commonly used tasks easily.
Vaio Flip 13N is one of the few tablets/convertible laptops to sport an 8MP rear camera. The image quality offered by the model is decent - the colours are quite warm, but the noise spoils the images indoors. We expect the performance to be better outdoors. However, we are not big fans of using tablets to capture images and would advise you to stick to a smartphone when you want to click photos.
The Sony VAIO Flip is a premium addition to Sony’s growing range of notebooks. It’s very well crafted, looks premium and has the hardware to back it up. The elegant hinge design and glorious display are soured by negatives such as the noisy cooling fans and patchy build quality. The 13-incher is the most portable of the lot but you’ll be compromising on storage space as there’s only the 128GB configuration at the moment. We found the 14-inch to hit the sweet spot in terms of mobility and productivity. It’s not as compact as the F13N1A but it’s the cheapest at Rs 94,990 and for this, you get a 1TB hybrid drive as well.