Review Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB Ultrabook

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 12/02/2012

Switch to Work. Switchable graphics are an old trick. Today, we want switchable work modes: first a mini laptop, then a Windows tablet, and all this without even switching devices. So is this new Sony model the ideal device for ambitious Windows users who cannot decide between tablets and notebooks?

Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: is the slider mechanism the ideal solution for a convertible?
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: is the slider mechanism the ideal solution for a convertible?

For the original German review, see here.

We experience a lot of back and forth: the Windows subnotebook stays at home, while the Android tablet accompanies us on the train. Every day we work with Windows and so, in terms of productivity, the popular OS from Microsoft is far superior. However, the fact remains that the subnotebook, like the 11.6-inch test model of this review, is not as mobile as a tablet. So essentially, we want to combine a subnotebook with its keyboardtouchpad and processing power with a tablet which offers higher mobility. 

Sony presents a solution in the form of a Windows convertible: the Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB. Such devices were not popular in the past, as Windows XP, Vista and 7 did not offer great touch interfaces. However, Windows 8 changes all this: it offers the stability of Windows 7 and a great touch interface (Metro). Users, who own non-touch laptops, can still use a traditional mouse or touchpad and keyboard to work with the new OS as a classic desktop is included. However, owners of convertibles, like the Sony Vaio Duo 11, will be overjoyed as they get the best of both worlds

In the coming months, the Vaio will have plenty of competition. Till now, only the Microsoft Surface RT tablet and Dell XPS 12 convertible present a real threat, but all the popular manufacturers presented similar convertibles at the IFA 2012. In the wake of the Windows 8 launch, many clamshell laptops with a touch panel are coming out. In our opinion, these devices will not be able to make the most out of the Windows 8 touch interface (see Asus S400Acer Aspire S7 and Vaio SV-T1312).

Case

If a potential buyer picks a convertible, s/he has to decide between various mechanisms. The turn-and-tilt hinge of traditional convertibles has been thrown out by most manufacturers, in favor of lighter solutions, which would suit delicate Ultrabooks better and offer better sturdiness. HP (Envy X2) and Acer (Iconia W510P) have created tablets which dock into their keyboard, transforming into laptops. Advantages: low weight and measurements. Disadvantages: the hardware is rather weak, as it and the battery have to both find space in the tablet. In addition, such devices can have a problem with weight distribution as the base unit will not weight much (at best it will include a secondary battery).

Dell (XPS 12), Toshiba (Satellite U920t) and Sony do not separate the two parts, and rather have decided on a hinge mechanism which pushes the panel into the desired position. Dell allows the TFT to be rotated in a sturdy metal border. Asus (Taichi) picks an easy, yet expensive solution: a standard clamshell notebook with two panels, one on the front and the other on the back (when closed, the panel outside transforms the device into a tablet). Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga offers a greater degree of freedom in the form of a panel which can be turned 360 degrees.

Dell XPS 12
Dell XPS 12
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga
Acer Iconia W510P
Acer Iconia W510P
Toshiba Satellite U920t
Toshiba Satellite U920t
Tablet mode ...
Tablet mode ...
... seems fragile ...
... seems fragile ...
... but is reliable.
... but is reliable.
Chunky look
Chunky look

Sony chooses a slider mechanism (first seen in the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 - end of 2011). This makes the case thicker, but at 18 mm (~0.71 inches) it is still quite slim. The advantages: the Vaio has normal interfaces, like a full-size D-Sub VGA interface and, on the back, an Ethernet RJ-45 port. The feet were not included in the measurement of the thickness. They add between 3-6 mm (~0.12 to 0.24 inches) to the height of the Vaio (rear feet pulled out). This increase in the height presents the cooling system with more room for efficient cooling.

The hinge is composed of a massive magnesium part. The large arm, which includes the back of the device, holds the panel in position. The small support in front of it ensures that the user is presented with an ideal angle. Two metal hooks (base unit) click into place securely when the TFT is opened up. The opening and closing of the device does not require force: pull up the screen from behind part of the way (slack point) and then the hinge kicks in and pushes it into the final position with its springs. The user should not expect the firmness of an aluminum unibody - due to the hinge, the screen can wobble in the final position, but it does not swing or give way under pressure. 

We are surprised by the hardness of the base unit, as the bottom is made of pure synthetic material. The cool aluminum cover adds value to the device. The bottom has no maintenance flap and the area can be pressed in a little. 

In tablet mode, the panel is connected by four hooks and the hinge to the base unit. Although the base is a half centimeter thicker than the TFT, the user has the impression of handling a Slate PC, made of a single piece. The surface of the touch panel is resistant like other good tablets and does not give way under pressure. We believe that Sony has designed an excellent case, as in tablet mode, most users would not suspect the dual nature of the Duo 11.

Vaio Duo 11 - open
Vaio Duo 11 - open
Hinge details
Hinge details
Battery type/Capacity
Battery type/Capacity
RAM
RAM
Toshiba mSATA module
Toshiba mSATA module

Connectivity

While slim Ultrabooks, like the Aspire S7 and Samsung Series 9, cut back on ports or choose to install micro interfaces, Sony has stuck to full size. No adapter is required for VGAHDMIEthernet and USB. This is quite a big advantage in comparison to the high-end competition. Asus and Acer put USB-to-Ethernet adapters with their Ultrabooks (only 100 MB/s). Asus, Acer and Samsung have Mini-VGA and Micro-HDMI on-board. The XPS 12 convertible lacks Ethernet and instead offers a Mini-DisplayPort. Acer's S7 and the Duo 11 have one thing in common: a battery slice can increase the run time. The Vaio has a battery interface on the bottom. Acer uses a cable to transfer the energy from the battery (no battery interface).

Left: VGA d-Sub, Card reader - SD/HG Duo/MS, Headphone/Microphone combined
Left: VGA d-Sub, Card reader - SD/HG Duo/MS, Headphone/Microphone combined
Rear: Webcam (not visible), Ethernet RJ45, AC
Rear: Webcam (not visible), Ethernet RJ45, AC
Right: 2x USB 3.0 (1x Sleep & Charge), HDMI, Power-On
Right: 2x USB 3.0 (1x Sleep & Charge), HDMI, Power-On

Communication

The Bluetooth 4.0+HS, like the WLAN-Draft-N module (Intel), uses a modern power-saving mechanism (BLE Bluetooth Low Energy). The Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller transfers files in gigabytes within the network. A 3G module would have been a great extra, but as most users carry their smartphones around, they can use the tethering function. That means that they only require a surf contract. The GPS module enables Google Maps to pinpoint the location of the user. 

Security

Sometimes a TPM module is required to access the company network. The Trusted Module Platform is a security chip which is available for an additional 20 Euros (~$26) in the Sony Shop configuration menu.

Accessories

Sony does not offer any recovery DVDs, and the user will have to burn such a DVD for Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) themselves. S/he will have to press the Assist key to enter Vaio Care where all recovery options are provided under "additional tools". The Vaio Control Center is more important as it encompasses all settings (the display, performance, input devices/lighting, or network). Sadly, unlike the Vaio laptops, the Duo 11 does not have a hardware key for the Control Center.

Warranty

The manufacturer's warranty lasts 12 months - relatively short for this price class. As long as the user registers the Duo 11 soon after the purchase, s/he will receive the standard guarantee of 24 months. Sony cleverly forces buyers to register their product as this guarantee extension is essential. Those users, who are not satisfied with this warranty period, can purchase a one-year or two-year extension with pick-up and return service (5 workdays for pick-up and return service) for an additional 130/350 Euros (~$170/$457) respectively. The last option is expensive but it offers 3 months of product replacement service (only in Germany) and 4 years of complete protection in case of an accident.

Vaio Control Center: battery care
Vaio Control Center: battery care
Vaio Control Center: keyboard backlight
Vaio Control Center: keyboard backlight
Vaio gesture control
Vaio gesture control
Vaio gesture control
Vaio gesture control

Webcam

The Duo 11 has 2.0 megapixel cameras at both the front and at the back. Although the cameras are good, the user will be hard put to capture a photo outdoors in the sunlight due to the reflective display. However, once the user grabs a photo, the "Exmor" HD digital camera gets to work and processes a sharp and well-focused picture. Poor lighting (early evening, shadows, indoors) can result in blurring, strong distortions and excessive color saturation. These statements apply to both cameras equally.

Rear camera - 1920 x 1080
Rear camera - 1920 x 1080
Good light - FHD
Good light - FHD
Good light - 1280 x 800
Good light - 1280 x 800
At evening: grainy
At evening: grainy
At evening: grainy
At evening: grainy
At evening: colors oversaturated
At evening: colors oversaturated
At evening: object too close (20 cm)
At evening: object too close (20 cm)
At evening: indoors - strong distortions
At evening: indoors - strong distortions
Front camera: good light
Front camera: good light

Input Devices

Keyboard

The use of keys and touchpad together is fun and fast. We did not wish for an external mouse at any point during our use, and rarely required the pointer. The keyboard base is secure and offers a solid, yet not hard, impact. The pressure point is soft and could have been crisper. Thankfully, the keys have a soft surface although they do not have any visible rubber coating. 

The 13 mm (~0.51 inches) wide keys (desktop - 19 mm/~0.75 inches) have a large gap (4 mm/~0.16 inches), which allows the user to type accurately. The keyboard does not use its entire width, but the manufacturer has good reason for this. The 25 mm (~0.98 inch) gap to the right and left of the keyboard is left free so that our hands can lift the Duo 11. 

Touchpad

Touchpad or pointstick? It turns out the touchpad can be replaced by the combination of three blunt keys that offer grip and a pointer. Even touchpad fans will soon get accustomed to using the pointstick of the Duo 11 as, in contrast to HP or Lenovo business notebooks; this device has a smooth surface. The cursor is moved by swiping over the top of the stick. Standard pointers have a slip-proof surface. The second plus: a double-click is possible on the pointer as well. 

The middle button puts the pointer in scroll mode and the device can now be used to scroll to the right/left and up/down. The keys click quietly, have a short stroke distance and a muffled impact.

Secure keyboard
Secure keyboard
No touchpad
No touchpad
Pointer instead of a Trackpoint
Pointer instead of a Trackpoint

Touchscreen

A flood of Windows 8 convertibles is hitting the market. Sony wishes to distinguish its convertible by adding a stylus pen. This pen is active, which means it has a battery. A small dot will reveal the location of the cursor as soon as the pen is within 10 mm of the screen. The round button on the pen acts as a right mouse key. This allows the user to call up context menus faster than with the finger. 

We found the stylus and Full HD panel to be a perfect combination. Due to the high pixel density (11.6-inch screen), the user might feel unsure when selecting small elements from menus or files. The pen grants the user precision and also serves as a tool for handwritten notes and artistic tasks. The stylus feels nice in the hand (weight: aluminum + battery), but there is no slot on the Duo 11 where it can be slid in. The optional battery slice includes a slot for the stylus. Thankfully, there is a loop on the stylus which allows the user to secure it with a string.

We do not want to say that using the touchscreen with the finger is difficult. In fact, the interface is simple and we are surprised at how precise the input is. Windows 8 translates our quick movements well. Thus, the Vaio Duo S11 can hold its own against high-quality capacitive tablets. 

Our model is equipped with a gyro sensor (standard for tablets) which automatically adjusts the display. Unfortunately, the sensor does not work accurately in laptop mode and sometimes automatically rotates the screen 90 degrees. Shaking and turning does not change the orientation and the user can only correct the orientation by putting the device into tablet mode.

Aluminum stylus pen
Aluminum stylus pen
Active input pen (Battery)
Active input pen (Battery)
Replacement tip
Replacement tip

Display

The VAIO Plus display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels - very high. The pixel density with this high-resolution, 11.6-inch screen amounts to 189 DPI. An HD panel, like in the Vaio Ultrabook SV-T13, can only manage 135 DPI. The FHD screen is the only option for the Duo 11 and the strong IPS-type viewing angles underline the high aspirations of the device. Sony picks a reflective surface for the panel but offers a matte protective cover (35 Euros/~$46). We measure a high contrast of 907:1 when the brightness is set to max and the device is plugged in. The Dell XPS 12 convertible (IPS FHD) is slightly worse at a similar brightness (708:1).

388
cd/m²
395
cd/m²
397
cd/m²
375
cd/m²
417
cd/m²
376
cd/m²
352
cd/m²
367
cd/m²
375
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 417 cd/m²
Average: 382.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 84 %
Center on Battery: 182 cd/m²
Black: 0.46 cd/m²
Contrast: 907:1

The high performance and resolution of the system will excite even graphic designers. Although the Duo 11 has a broader color spectrum coverage than the Dell XPS 12, it falls short of the sRGB color space. This means that the AdobeRGB is also far out-of-reach. Acer's premium Ultrabook, the S7, does not perform much better, but to see what good sRGB coverage looks like, take a look at the Retina display of the MacBook Pro 15.

Vaio Duo 11 vs. sRGB (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. sRGB (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. AdobeRGB (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. AdobeRGB (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. Acer AS S5-391 TN (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. Acer AS S5-391 TN (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. Dell XPS 12 (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. Dell XPS 12 (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. Apple MBP 15 Retina (t)
Vaio Duo 11 vs. Apple MBP 15 Retina (t)
Contrast and white point
Contrast and white point

The average brightness is great: 417 cd/m². If there were no drops in brightness while running on battery (182 cd/m²), the user would have had a reason to celebrate. Yes, the brightness is more than enough for indoor use. However, outdoors, in the bright sunlight, the legibility of the screen quickly drops. The strong reflections of the glossy-type display make the situation worse. The XPS 12 convertible shows us how it is done right.

From the side - clouded
From the side - clouded
From the side - reflections
From the side - reflections
From the side - dark
From the side - dark

The strong color coverage is not only measurable, but also well-visible from all sides thanks to the excellent viewing angles. Whether from right, left, up or down - color inversions (ghost images) are non-existent on this IPS panel.

Viewing angles of the Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
Viewing angles of the Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB

Performance

The Vaio Duo is available with the Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7 GHz), i3-3217U (1.8 GHz) and i7-3517U (1.9 GHz). In this section, we will check to see what the extra 300 Euros (~$391) for the i7 (Sony Store) will bring to the user.

Sony chooses a 128 GB mSATA module from Toshiba (THNSNS128GMCP) for the Duo 11. The SSD works over a 6 GB/s SATA interface which ensures high read/write rates as long as the SSD controller can keep up. We will check the performance of the device at the "Storage Device" section. The Duo 11 is equipped with two memory slots which can hold up to 4,096 MB each (our model: 2x 2,048 MB soldered, Dual-Channel). 

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM
Systeminfo GPUZ HD 4000
Systeminfo HWinfo Summary
DPC Latency - Idle OK
DPC Latency - WLAN Off/On Latency times
System information - Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB

Processor

CPU load: Cineb. R11.5 Multi @2.4 GHz
CPU load: Cineb. R11.5 Multi @2.4 GHz
CPU load: Cineb. R11.5 Solo @2.4 GHz
CPU load: Cineb. R11.5 Solo @2.4 GHz

Does the Core i5 offer enough performance or should the buyer put down an extra 300 Euros (~$391) for the i7 configuration? We do not advise the purchase as the increase in performance in the multi-core test of Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi (2.35 points) is a mere 19%. The integrated graphics chip, HD 4000, is just as strong as the IGP of the i7 (see Aspire S7 391). 

The Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi test is identical to that of the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A. The cooling of the flat base unit manages to keep up with the temperature emissions of Turbo. 2.4 GHz clock speed lies clearly in the Turbo region (standard - 1.7 GHz). The same applies to the R11.5 Single Test (1.07 points). In this test, many Ultrabooks with the same GPU offer 1.04 - 1.07 points. On battery, the user will not have to sacrifice performance. The OpenGL and Multi tests reveal identical results to the ones previously recorded with the laptop connected to a power socket.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3523
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
7409
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5483
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
4444 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
9125 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
5514 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.07 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.35 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
15.84 fps
Help
Cinebench R11.5
OpenGL 64Bit
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
15.84 fps ∼14%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
15.69 fps ∼14% -1%
Samsung 900X3C-A04DE
16.01 fps ∼15% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A
17.09 fps ∼16% +8%
Dell XPS 12
12.37 fps ∼11% -22%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
14.3 fps ∼13% -10%
Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-H01DE
5.49 fps ∼5% -65%
Asus Eee Slate EP121-1A013M
1.01 fps ∼1% -94%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
2.35 Points ∼13%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
2.8 Points ∼16% +19%
Samsung 900X3C-A04DE
2.64 Points ∼15% +12%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A
2.61 Points ∼15% +11%
Dell XPS 12
2.55 Points ∼14% +9%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
2.38 Points ∼14% +1%
Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-H01DE
1.63 Points ∼9% -31%
Asus Eee Slate EP121-1A013M
1.27 Points ∼7% -46%
Legend
      Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB Intel Core i5-3317U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
      Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws Intel Core i7-3517U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
      Samsung 900X3C-A04DE Intel Core i7-3517U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Lite-On LMT-256M3M
      Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A Intel Core i5-3427U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Apple SSD TS128E (Toshiba)
      Dell XPS 12 Intel Core i7-3667U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
      Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Intel Core i5-3317U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, ADATA XM11
      Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-H01DE Intel Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000, Samsung MZMPA064HMDR
      HP Slate 2 Wi-Fi + 3G Intel Atom Z670, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600, Samsung MZMPA064HMDR
      Asus Eee Slate EP121-1A013M Intel Core i5-470UM, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics, SanDisk SSD P4

System Performance

PCMark 7 Scores
PCMark 7 Scores

The PCMark 7 shows us the overall performance of our test model (PC Mark Vantage had problems). The score of 4,803 points can keep up with Core i7 Ultrabooks partway. The Dell XPS 12 convertible and Samsungs 900X3C belong to these i7 models. The Slate PC, Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A, is far slower with its i5-2467M due to the HD 3000 IGP and the slower SSD (-16 %). The performance differences are primarily due to the SSD speeds, as neither one of the models has a dedicated graphics card. Noticeable: the Acer S7 391 has a Raid-0-SSD but is only 1% faster in the System Storage test. Maybe the storage device tests can paint a clearer picture?

PCMark 7
Score
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
4803 Points ∼73%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
5155 Points ∼78% +7%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
5020 Points ∼76% +5%
Dell XPS 12
4751 Points ∼72% -1%
Samsung 900X3C-A04DE
4549 Points ∼69% -5%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A
4179 Points ∼63% -13%
Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-H01DE
2885 Points ∼44% -40%
HP Slate 2 Wi-Fi + 3G
849 Points ∼13% -82%
System Storage
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
5384 Points ∼75%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
5245 Points ∼74% -3%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
5428 Points ∼76% +1%
Dell XPS 12
5156 Points ∼72% -4%
Samsung 900X3C-A04DE
5323 Points ∼75% -1%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A
4159 Points ∼58% -23%
Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-H01DE
4522 Points ∼63% -16%
HP Slate 2 Wi-Fi + 3G
4389 Points ∼62% -18%
5.5
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.9
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5.5
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.4
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
8.1
PC Mark
PCMark 74803 points
Help

Storage Device

The Toshiba SSD (THNSNS128GMCP, 128 GB, mSATA) is plugged into a 6 GB/s SATA interface and transfers enormous amounts of data. The read speed of around 500 MB/s can keep up with most major SSDs. This allows the user to quickly boot up the device (even with a cold start) and perform rapid copy and write operations. 

The read speed can distract the user from an issue: while reading small, scattered files (4k tests), the Samsung SSD 830 series MZMPC256HBGJ (XPS 12) and Lite-On LMT-256M3M (900X3C) are better. Still the Aspire S7 with its RAID 0 composed of 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3Ms is the leader. More information about SSDs can be found in the appropriate benchmark table in the FAQ section.

ASSSD: 473 MB/s (Sequential Read)
ASSSD: 473 MB/s (Sequential Read)
Crystal Disk Mark: 457 MB/s (Seq. R.)
Crystal Disk Mark: 457 MB/s (Seq. R.)
HD-Tune: 234 MB/s (Seq. R.)
HD-Tune: 234 MB/s (Seq. R.)
AS SSD
Seq Read
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
473.11 MB/s ∼35%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
921.37 MB/s ∼69% +95%
Samsung 900X3C-A04DE
510.46 MB/s ∼38% +8%
Dell XPS 12
471.69 MB/s ∼35% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A
466.48 MB/s ∼35% -1%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
341.35 MB/s ∼25% -28%
Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-H01DE
246.93 MB/s ∼18% -48%
HP Slate 2 Wi-Fi + 3G
82.85 MB/s ∼6% -82%
4K-64 Read
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
131.95 MB/s ∼20%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
348.71 MB/s ∼53% +164%
Samsung 900X3C-A04DE
183.09 MB/s ∼28% +39%
Dell XPS 12
257.16 MB/s ∼39% +95%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A
124.19 MB/s ∼19% -6%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
112.51 MB/s ∼17% -15%
Samsung Series 7 XE700T1A-H01DE
120.54 MB/s ∼18% -9%
HP Slate 2 Wi-Fi + 3G
210.05 MB/s ∼32% +59%
Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
Transfer Rate Minimum: 205.3 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 324 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 234.4 MB/s
Access Time: 0.2 ms
Burst Rate: 181.5 MB/s
CPU Usage: 5.7 %

Graphics Card

The HD 4000 speeds up in Turbo mode (1,050 MHz) and slows down while idle (350 MHz). Even on battery, the performance stays the same, as confirmed by Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL benchmarks. The 3DMark 2006 records a low score, in comparison to other Ultrabooks (3317U, IGP), but there are other laptops which are even worse: IdeaPad U310 (-32%) and Zenbook Prime UX31A (-12%). Similar differences are noticeable in the 3DMark Vantage benchmark: -37% (IdeaPad U310) to +8% (MB Air 11 2012). These differences are due to the different manifestations of GPU Turbo in one and the same 3317U processor. Our Duo 11 is not one of the deviants and offers standard performance

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
4889 points
3DMark Vantage3007 points
Help

Gaming Performance

We tested Anno 2070 and a few new games. The HD 4000 offers lower performance in games as is shown by the comparison with an entry-level GPU, the GeForce GT 620M (Asus UX32VD, +90%). Ultrabooks lie close to one another in this discipline as shown by Anno 2070 at low details. In any case, the user will have to get accustomed to low resolutions and deactivated anti-aliasing (low details).

Anno 2070 - 1024x768 Low Preset
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
42.4 fps ∼14%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2012-06 MD231LL/A
HD Graphics 4000, 3427U, Apple SSD TS128E (Toshiba)
47 fps ∼15% +11%
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, ADATA XM11
38.57 fps ∼12% -9%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
37.4 fps ∼12% -12%
Asus UX32VD
GeForce GT 620M, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E380 + 24 GB SSD Cache
81.58 fps ∼26% +92%
low med.high ultra
Risen (2009) 28.616.613.3fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 42.421.213.2fps
Darksiders II (2012) 2112fps
Torchlight 2 (2012) 58.736.722.7fps
F1 2012 (2012) 332722fps
Borderlands 2 (2012) 4123.215.7fps

Emissions

Ventilation opening on the back
Ventilation opening on the back

Noise Emissions

Tablets are mainly noiseless, but the Vaio Duo 11 is an exception due to its Ultrabook components. The active fan never turns off but operates at a constant speed and quietly. It is only noticeable in very quiet surroundings. Whether using the browser or working on a Word file, the fan will continue to quietly rotate. The situation only changes when the CPU is at high load for long periods of time or our stress test runs. Now, the cooling system turns up to a max 40 dB(A). At medium load (3DMark 06), the Duo 11 is slightly quieter at 38 dB(A). 

Noise Level

Idle 30.1 / 30.4 / 30.4 dB(A)
Load 38.3 / 39.9 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test Prime95 + Furmark: stable @1.7 GHz
Stress test Prime95 + Furmark: stable @1.7 GHz

Noise and temperature emissions were measured in the laptop mode. The panel does not heat up at all due to the distance between it and the base unit. Furthermore, the temperature on the keys is moderate. Behind the display, the temperatures rise, but the user will not touch this area during use. The bottom is a different story: we measure 44 °C (~111.2 °F) during our stress test at certain points. These are acceptable levels for use on the lap.

The cooling system seems to be on top of everything - the temperatures do not rise above 78 °C (~172.4 °F) in our stress test. Throttling due to overheating (clock speed drops = drops in performance) is not noticeable as the i5-3317U continues to operate at a constant 1.7 GHz. This standard clock speed may not be at Turbo level but throttling indicates drops below the standard clock speed, i.e. 1.7 GHz. We did not see any performance drops during our stress test (3DMark 06 with constant results).

Max. Load
 25.8 °C29.5 °C30.6 °C 
 25.2 °C27.7 °C29 °C 
 25.9 °C26.8 °C28 °C 
Maximum: 30.6 °C
Average: 27.6 °C
37.6 °C44.1 °C44 °C
30.9 °C31.2 °C27 °C
28.4 °C28.3 °C26.6 °C
Maximum: 44.1 °C
Average: 33.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  50.6 °C | Room Temperature 22.3 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The small speakers are placed towards the front and are quite loud for an 11.6-inch device. However, the output is not great as it lacks deep notes. The output quality does not change in tablet mode, as the speakers are not covered by the panel. Positive: even if we cover the speakers while carrying the Duo 11, the volume and sound quality does not drop.

Battery Life

Power Consumption

The power consumption ranges between 5-11 W while idle and 34 W at load (due to 3DMark2006). Depending on the power profile, brightness and activity of the wireless module, the power consumption in office use can range from 8 to 25 W. The 45 W power adapter is perfectly suited for this power consumption. However, at high load, there is not enough power for charging the battery.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.05 / 0.2 Watt
Idle 5.4 / 9 / 11.3 Watt
Load 34 / 40.5 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 960

Battery Life

The 37 Wh battery (4-cell, 4,960 mAh) does not live up to the high expectations of Ultrabooks. We could only reach Sony's proclaimed run time of 6:30 hours while running the laptop on idle. The battery emptied after 6:36 hours. The idle run time is not even close to that achieved in everyday usage, as it only applies to the scenario where the device runs at minimum brightness with the CPU idle and WLAN off. The WLAN surfing test is closer to the real run time: 3:47 hours. In this case, the brightness lies at 150 cd/m² (3 levels lower) and a script automatically loads websites every 40 seconds (sometimes videos).

The majority of 13.3 and 14-inch Ultrabooks (3317U CPU) can offer 4-6 hours in the WLAN test. 11.6-inch devices, like the Zenbook UX21 with 3:37 hours, are not much better off than our test model. The Dells XPS 12 can last much longer thanks to its 47 Wh battery: 6:30 hours (WLAN test). An additional battery is optional: the battery slice can be inserted in the Duo 11 to extend the run time. Four hooks and an interface on the bottom will secure the slice to the device. The optional battery slice should double the run time and includes a slot for the WLAN pen.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
7h 20min
WiFi Surfing
3h 47min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 46min

Verdict

Sony launches its Vaio Duo 11 in its shops at the Windows 8 launch. The model was announced at the IFA 2012 and now it is available for 1,400 Euros (~$1827, middle-class configuration - Core i5-3317U, 128 GB SSD). This device should definitely rouse the interest of Windows 8 fans. 

The hardware and connectivity of this 11.6-inch test model hints at a powerful Ultrabook. The fast Toshiba SSD ensures good performance, as shown by the comparison in the "Storage Device" section. Furthermore, the cooling system has no problems dealing with the heat emissions of the hardware and does not produce a lot of noise while doing so. 

The two main reasons to buy the Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B would be its Full HD IPS panel which has great viewing angle stability and the dual interface modes (tablet or subnotebook). Buyers who were not convinced by the Windows tablets hitting the market might change their minds once they take a look at the Sony Vaio Duo 11. Windows 8 provides a touch-optimized operating system (Metro, tabs) and includes the classic desktop. This allows users to work in both worlds (productivity and fun). 

One flaw prevents us from awarding this device a "Very Good" rating. It is not the workmanship, which is great for the material and mechanisms used in the device. Even the input devices (backlight), pointer, touch panel and stylus pen were to our liking. Sadly, the only issue we found to be serious was the throttling of the extremely bright TFT down to 182 cd/m² on battery. This prevents the notebook from being legible outdoors in the sunlight. The battery life of roughly four hours will not win any awards either, but this can be extended with the battery slice.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: inseparable. Sony picks a slide mechanism which allows them to install powerful Ultrabook hardware in their device.
Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: inseparable. Sony picks a slide mechanism which allows them to install powerful Ultrabook hardware in their device.

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In Review: Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
In Review: Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB

Specifications

Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM76 (Panther Point)
:: Memory
4096 MB, Onboard, Dual-Channel, DDR3L SDRAM
:: Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4000, Core: 1050 MHz
:: Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, Capacitive, Multi-touch touchscreen, VAIO Plus-Display, IPS, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP, 128 GB mSATA SSD, 6 Gb/s
:: Soundcard
Conexant Cx20584 High Definition Audio-Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: stereo mini jack combined, Card Reader: Memory Stick Duo, SD (SDHC and SDXC support), Sensors: G-Sensor, Battery interface for an additional battery VGP-BPSC31
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 (a b g n ), 4.0 + HS Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 17.85 x 320 x 199
:: Weight
1.287 kg Power Supply: 0.28 kg
:: Battery
37 Wh Lithium-Ion, BPS31 3900 mAh
:: Price
1399 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear/Front: VGA 640 x 480 / FHD 1920 × 1080 2,07 MP, Speakers: Stereo Dolby Home Theater v4, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Digitizer Pen, McAfee Internet Security (30 day trial), McAfee Parental Controls, Intel Anti-Theft Service (90 day trial), Vaio Transfer Support, Update, Care, PlayMemories Home, VAIO Gate, Message Center

 

Sony is spreading their Ultrabooks.
Sony is spreading their Ultrabooks.
Interfaces like those of a big Ultrabook: no longer a tablet -
Interfaces like those of a big Ultrabook: no longer a tablet -
full-size USB 3.0, HDMI and VGA are included in the Duo 11.
full-size USB 3.0, HDMI and VGA are included in the Duo 11.
The status LEDs can be found at the front.
The status LEDs can be found at the front.
The Full HD panel (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) is bright
The Full HD panel (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) is bright
but is not needed for typing in the dark, as the device has keyboard backlight.
but is not needed for typing in the dark, as the device has keyboard backlight.
The IPS-type screen has strong viewing angle stability and great contrast - lots of fun.
The IPS-type screen has strong viewing angle stability and great contrast - lots of fun.
So that nothing goes wrong: short intro to Windows 8.
So that nothing goes wrong: short intro to Windows 8.
Quick start manuals and guarantee cards are typical,
Quick start manuals and guarantee cards are typical,
but the Stylus Pen is a nice extra. The pen is a digitizer (with battery).
but the Stylus Pen is a nice extra. The pen is a digitizer (with battery).
The pen quickly is precise and hand-written input is quickly recognized.
The pen quickly is precise and hand-written input is quickly recognized.
The 45 W power adapter provides sufficient power for this Core i5 system.
The 45 W power adapter provides sufficient power for this Core i5 system.
Our stress test shows a max power consumption of 40.5 W.
Our stress test shows a max power consumption of 40.5 W.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: opens up like a Swiss knife.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: opens up like a Swiss knife.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: keyboard and pointer are good input devices.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: keyboard and pointer are good input devices.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: as the keyboard and panel are not separated, the hardware can be installed in the base unit. This gives the manufacturer the freedom to install powerful hardware, like the Core i7 (Low Voltage).
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: as the keyboard and panel are not separated, the hardware can be installed in the base unit. This gives the manufacturer the freedom to install powerful hardware, like the Core i7 (Low Voltage).
More run time: the battery slice can increase the battery life (optional).
More run time: the battery slice can increase the battery life (optional).
Of course, the typical VAIO special keys are provided (front).
Of course, the typical VAIO special keys are provided (front).
This gives the Duo 11 An extroverted character.
This gives the Duo 11 An extroverted character.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 is a covertible PC.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 is a covertible PC.
That means: its a fusion of a subnotebook and a tablet.
That means: its a fusion of a subnotebook and a tablet.
Windows convertibles have been around a while,
Windows convertibles have been around a while,
but the Ultrabook hardware
but the Ultrabook hardware
in such a slim case with a slide mechanism is brand-new.
in such a slim case with a slide mechanism is brand-new.
Most manufacturers have bid farewell to centrally placed hinges.
Most manufacturers have bid farewell to centrally placed hinges.
The device has a fold hinge, which easily pushes the panel into position.
The device has a fold hinge, which easily pushes the panel into position.
Sturdy and well-designed metal construction.
Sturdy and well-designed metal construction.
The parts are made of a hard alloy: probably magnesium-aluminum.
The parts are made of a hard alloy: probably magnesium-aluminium.
The slim shape of Duo 11 measures a mere 18 mm.
The slim shape of Duo 11 measures a mere 18 mm.
Feet not included in this measurement.
Feet not included in this measurement.
The two feet at the back can be kicked out to increase the height of the device.
The two feet at the back can be kicked out to increase the height of the device.
The back offers the power outlet and LAN interface.
The back offers the power outlet and LAN interface.
The chunky chassis feels good in the hands.
The chunky chassis feels good in the hands.
Sony tried not to make the device too thick.
Sony tried not to make the device too thick.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: IPS panel with excellent viewing angles and good contrast.
The Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9E/B: IPS panel with excellent viewing angles and good contrast.

Similar Devices

Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

» Review Toshiba WT310 Tablet
Core i5 3339Y, 0.825 kg

Links

Price Comparison

Pro

+Flat, even as a tablet
+Sturdy build
+Interfaces on the back
+Good key feedback
+Very good trackpoint replacement
+Subnotebook-like ports
+Strong performance thanks to the SSD
+Good contrast and very good viewing angles
+Good-quality rear camera
+Battery slice optional
 

Cons

-Run times lag behind the competition
-Brightness drop when running on battery

Shortcut

What we like

A reliable slide mechanism which will not necessarily draw the user's attention to the joint between the base and panel. 

What we miss

The same brightness in battery mode as when the laptop is connected to a power socket. 

What surprises us

The slider mechanism seems to be the best compromise for a convertible. A true Windows 8 (no RT version for Intel Atom) benefits from Ultrabook performance. Many users will be happy with the Duo 11 allrounder and will not require a separate tablet. 

The competition

In the review, we pulled the Dell XPS 12 and Microsoft Surface RT (Windows RT). Soon these models will also be available: Toshiba Satellite U920t, Asus Taichi, Lenovo Ideapad Yoga, HP Envy X2, Acer Iconia W510P

Rating

Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB
11/19/2012 v3
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
90%
Keyboard
86%
Pointing Device
88%
Connectivity
66%
Weight
93%
Battery
86%
Display
85%
Games Performance
68%
Application Performance
97%
Temperature
90%
Noise
92%
Add Points
84%
Average
85%
87%
Convertible *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Sony Vaio Duo 11 SV-D1121X9EB Ultrabook
Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2012-12- 2 (Update: 2013-06- 6)