Will hybrid devices running on Windows 8 offer the best of touch and type, laptop and tablet, or will they confuse users?
ASUS Vivobook F202E
The ASUS Vivobook F202E is the cheapest touchscreen laptop in the market. It has an 11.6-inch screen, runs on a fairly powerful Intel processor and weighs just 1.3 kg. This is a good alternative for those on a budget.
In our review of Microsoft Windows 8 last October, we said that it would create demand for a new breed of hybrid devices, such as touchscreen laptops or tablets with keyboards. Since the operating system (OS) was designed for touchscreen input, such hybrid devices would give users the best of the OS without making a radical switch, from touch to type, or vice-versa. Almost each Microsoft partner has come up with a different kind of hybrid device. The devices, though, run the risk of being viewed as a jack of all trades. Their three input options ó keyboard, trackpad and touch ó might also confuse users. A lowdown on the first to arrive in the market:
Sony Vaio Duo 11
The Vaio Duo 11 is a good-looking slider device. The screen slides out of one plate of this ultrabook, and rests at an incline to reveal the keyboard. The screen can also be pushed back into the device, and be used as a tablet. When you look at the device as a laptop, it is quite well-designed, apart from the cramped keyboard. To accommodate the sliding mechanism, Sony has reduced the size of the keyboard and replaced the trackpad with a trackball. The trackball is too small and difficult to access ó it is in the middle of the keyboard ó and most users may switch to touchscreen mode. The device weighs 1.3 kg, which is light for a laptop but heavy for a tablet.
The 11.6-inch screen feels well-built, which is not a surprise as it is made of Gorilla Glass. It has two 2.4-megapixel cameras Ė one above the screen, and the other behind it. The screen supports high-definition resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, an improvement over most laptops. The display reproduces colours very well and watching movies was a good experience. The speakers are not very loud, but a good pair of headphones improved sound quality.
Performance-wise, Vaio Duo 11 did not disappoint. The device makes good use of its Intel processor, 6GB RAM and the fast 128GB