Sony Vaio Duo 13 Stylus Hands-on performance

Just grabbed a feeling how Duo 13’s stylus doing, which should be based on newer N-trig stylus technology. In simpler way to describe, it’s a great improvement from Duo 11, in a way that gives me better hope for future.

If you read my blog before, you probably know that I bought Microsoft Surface Pro not long ago for researching computer size matter, as well as Wacom stylus performance. So I probably won’t buy Duo 13 until another new Intel CPU released. However, I found Duo 13’s stylus is quite impressive during my visit of Sony Shop, even without using the usual drawing software to test. Its responsiveness is improved, to the point that enables you to drop notes quickly without worrying about losing word details. It also shows similar to Wacom’s result on quick circle test, which it now has less noticeable jiggles in drawn curves, meaning that it could provide more natural drawing and writing experience that Duo 11 not quite good at. Also, its responsiveness to start inking and stop inking seems improved, that it won’t (or less likely to) left unwanted trail when drawing certain kinds of things require strong pressure at beginning and soft or no pressure at the end of inking. However, its tracking while the stylus is NOT in CONTACT with screen still needs to be improved, because the lag is still noticeable even with improved tracking when contacting and not contacting with screen.

With the biggest weakness of Duo 11’s stylus, slow responsiveness, being solved while preserving if not improving accuracy (can’t tell because it was already very accurate in my opinion), I’m very positive that next working tablet PC I’ll buy would be made by Sony. Unless some interesting idea comes out from other things/brand. For those who hadn’t buy Duo 11 but interested using Duo 13 as a drawing tablet PC, I think Duo 13 is a pretty good to fulfill that role because of its responsive and accurate stylus (more accurate than Wacom based tablet PC from what I’ve experienced, but not Cintq), and rich color display without causing image persistence (at least during my test, which already is an improvement over Duo 11). Wacom should also beware, because N-trig start getting its stylus right.

Though I have to say there’re few things I don’t like on Duo 13’s design…

Here’s a simple video from other for quick reference…

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No HDCP on Vaio Duo 11 (most of 2012 model) built-in display

Getting very busy lately so I couldn’t blog so often. I even wrote a draft a month ago but haven’t put that up. Anyway, here’s a quick note about Sony Vaio Duo 11.

Perhaps most of user won’t notice this problem until they try to put every task to Duo 11, and discover something’s missing. Don’t know if some English users already pointed this out (Japanese did already), but I guess I better say something about this.

As the topic said, the built-in display of Vaio Duo 11 does not support HDCP, or at least fail to be detected to have HDCP. Which means it most likely cannot play Blu-ray video disc or digital TV… alone. (There’s an exception that certain Japanese model has HDCP built-in) (correct me if anyone finds out another model supports HDCP)

Its HDMI port, however, is support HDCP, and once you connect it to HDCP supported display, Duo 11 can play HDCP content.

Still, I thought Duo 11’s monitor has HDCP and I bought a TV card that capable receiving TV signal outdoor… That really against the definition of mobility…

Yet, I’m quite please that Duo 11 can do TV playback and edit photos in Adobe Lightroom without noticeable speed reduction. I wish Sony could add HDCP on new Duo 11, and probably make a larger version of Duo 11 (might explain my thought on larger version of Duo 11 if I have time)

I hope I’ll have time to blog something else… right now I need to adapt new situation… to live in new place.

Microsoft Surface Pro VS Sony Vaio Duo 11 comparison links

Microsoft Surface Pro VS Sony Vaio Duo 11 comparison (link, not by me)

A nice comparison between Microsoft Surface Pro and Sony Vaio Duo 11 found in a forum. Those who interested should take a look. Good that the comparison also point out Surface’s initial design problems I found at first sight. Thanks pagugu for doing this comparison! I wish I could do this comparison but none of my friend nor I plan to buy Surface Pro. Personally I prefer Vaio Duo 11 because I also do photography aside from illustration, that I could make good use of 256GB SSD and SD Card Reader (no, not microSD), as well as 2 USBs for file transferring, interface expand/adapt, and more.Would be great if pagugu or someone else do a video comparison. More like, Microsoft Surface Pro vs Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro vs Asus Taichi 21 vs Sony Vaio Duo 11. Stylus plays major key.

EDIT: Few extra notes, according to few sites that did benchmarks on both tablet PCs, Core i5 Vaio Duo 11 can run faster and last longer than Microsoft Surface Pro a bit, not significant enough for user to notice the differences. But Vaio Duo 11 has in-factory upgradable option for extra o.4 kg. 512GB SSD too, if you actually need it. A bit faster Core i7, they got it too.

Update: I found a video comparison. Mostly good, but I want a video comparison that actually put both computers into daily life situations. Should had update this as soon as I found this video but I’ve got too many things to do lately.

6/13 Update: This might sounds stupid to Americans and power users who always look for newest gadget, I actually bought Microsoft Surface Pro (256GB version) recently to fill up my thirst for researching 10 inch tablet PC, so I might able to do comparison on my own from now. Hope this can be written within weeks. All thanks to the special offer I get for buying Surface Pro (Free Office 2013) and news regarding minor CPU speed improvement on Intel Haswell CPU.
Here’s my quick impression: The Surface Pro indeed has more natural feeling on drawing and faster responsiveness for stylus, but it also has more tendency to get hot (41.5 degree celcius, i.e. hotter than Duo 11 when it’s being stressed by Adobe Lightroom 4) while doing digital illustration, and less accuracy than Duo 11, leaving digital illustration in favorable question (for now). Because it only has 1 USB, it does have potential problem in general use. Also, it requires more depth to become desktop mode, docked with cover that requires extra purchase, and unable to use comfortably (or at all) on lap because of its design (which I predicted long time ago). However, it’s easier to keep (but not use) in cramped place, and probably it’s a better presentation computer in some cases (which I hope I can explore more). What I said is my quick impression and hopefully will update as soon as I experience enough scenarios with Surface Pro.

6/15 Update:  Another quick insight comparison by myself, once again, not final, and might not be accurate, but I will take my time to do a deeper comparison, even without benchmark softwares or hardwares.

Vaio Duo 11:                                                              Microsoft Surface Pro:

+Accurate Stylus* (H±≤4px V±≤3px)                      +Responsive Stylus
+Relatively High Performance Ultrabook             +Full PC experience packed in small factor
+Vast Connectivity                                                   +Minor Bloatware, if not none
+High resolution screen                                          +High resolution screen result high dpi
+Stay cool while doing basic work                         +Easy keyboard cover connecting
+Easy tablet/laptop conversion                              +Superior palm rejection for stylus

-Unresponsive Stylus ruins its accuracy             -Inaccurate stylus* (H±≤7px V±≤7px)
-Easy Image Persistence                                       -Easy to get hot
-Relatively Large and Heavy for its screen size  -Unable to use on lap in most case
-No HDCP on built-in display (2012 model)        -Bad standing position (Worse than Duo 11)

*Duo 11 stylus accuracy is very constant while Surface Pro stylus accuracy is not constant, meaning the cursor position error will have noticeable difference in different section of screen, even if the section is next to another section.

6/16 Update: About the temperature… forgot something rather important. The Surface Pro temperature was measured in room temperature 32 degree Celsius. Today I used both computer for hand writing revision. The room temperature was 32 degree Celsius again, and the Surface Pro external temperature racked up to 41.5 degrees within 15 minutes, while Duo 11 reached to 36.5 degrees after using around half hour of Windows Journal. As for CPU temperature, both built up to 64 degrees, but Duo 11 dropped back to 54 degrees shortly after I stop writing, and 45 degrees within a minute, while Surface Pro dropped steadily to 51 degrees within 1.5 minutes. After 5 minutes of idle (not sleep), the external temperature of Surface Pro dropped from 41.5 degrees to 38 degrees, while Duo 11 dropped from 36.5 to 34.0 after 5 minutes of typing. May do another temperature test with lower room temperature soon, but my impression was even in room temperature 25 degrees Surface can get pretty hot.

Opinion change on Vaio Duo 11…

In my user experience of Sony Vaio Duo 11, I said Duo 11 might not be the best laptop/tablet pc hybrid of 2012, but since 2012 is gone, I can say that Duo 11 is the best tablet pc of 2012, even though it might not be perfect hybrid for some. Duo 11 probably will remain as best windows 8 tablet pc for a while until another new mind-blowing tablet pc release, or new CPU release. Reason for this opinion change is that the fact there’s no other tablet pc in 2012 offers similar performance without sacrifice on mobility, screen, and/or stylus, nor offering mobility without sacrifice on performance, connectivity, and/or keyboard. And interesting, Sony manage to keep these aspect with sacrifice on trackpad only, which isn’t a big deal for windows 8. Pretty much Duo 11 direct compete with Asus Taichi 21 and Lenovo X230t (does anyone remember it?) only.

While Microsoft Surface Pro sounds interesting, I think it is worse than mentioned 3 tablet pcs for business user.

Asus Eee Slate EP121 vs Sony Vaio Duo 11

It might be not making sense, but yes, comparison between two tablet PCs of two generations. Reasons why I buy a new tablet pc. Mostly because of hardware improvements.

Hope this video gives you better understand what current tablet PC capable to do. While there are still lots of complaints about Windows 8’s new interface and hardware limitation (in many ways), my only complaint is about stylus performance. That Asus EP121’s stylus actually outperforms most 2012 tablet PC. Hope 2013 will not be same.

In addition to performance comparison between Vaio Duo 11 and Asus Eee Slate EP121, I’d like to point out my usage comparison of these tablet pc.

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Vaio Duo 11 User Experience (sort of review)

Vaio Duo 11 (i7 8GB 256GB SSD) User Experience (Last update: 1/28/2013)

Vaio Duo 11 the black beauty. Of 2012.

Vaio Duo 11 the black beauty. Of 2012.

The Good:

Accurate stylus* even at edge. Nicely weighted stylus help you controlling pen pressure. Ultrabook class performance which actually provide enough horsepower to do light creative works. Cool-looking design* that helped somewhat in cramped place such as bus and train. Crystal Clear Bright 1080p IPS monitor with 190dpi. Quiet at most of time. Nice weight balance which means no issues on switching from tablet to laptop. Back-lit Keyboard for such a thin base. Standard plug-in slots that provides all necessary accessibility for daily life without needs of adaptor. Powerhouse for tablet PC in 2012.

The Bad:

Slow refresh rate on stylus which cause jitter if pen movement is too fast. Also, writing details might missed at some points. Stylus (Pen pressure) does not support on some major graphic apps that use only WinTabs like Adobe’s. Not so impressive battery life for ultrabook (while it’s above average in ultrabook/tablet hybrid when released). Optical Track Point isn’t user-friendly. The base is a little bit sloppy to hold. The monitor is relatively weak on displaying blue color. Monitor can have image persistence easily. Fixed monitor angle. Weight is not light enough to be hold with one arm for a long time for note taking comfort. Bad camera.

Verdict:

It’s a new step for Sony and convertible tablet PC; it’s near ideal, near business friendly, and near perfect computer for creative amateurs (maybe workers as well) with few compromises that keep it from best choice of laptop/tablet pc in 2012. It does, however, one of the best choice for ultrabook/tablet hybrid as well as Windows 8 machine, and is a good example for Windows 8 machines.

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Before I begin I should clarify that this is a user experience repot and/or feedback, not a benchmark or single use testing, and may write too much or too less things on certain aspect. You may consider this as something more or less than review, but this is a writing about how I use and feel about the thing I write.

This user experience could be a little bit too long for some readers to read, but I don’t think I can omit some details.

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