My Sony Vaio Tap 11 Review (with compairisons to the Surface Pro 2)

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by ravisurdhar, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. ravisurdhar

    ravisurdhar Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I just got my Tap 11 yesterday and I've been running it through its paces this weekend. I also picked up a Surface Pro 2 a few weeks ago, with the intent of returning whichever device I didn't like. Bottom line: It's a hard choice. Both have a lot of strong positives, as well as a lot of strong negatives. (Note: When I use the term "Surface" below, I'm referring to the Surface Pro 2, not the original Surface).

    Initial impressions and build quality: WOW. You're telling me this 3/8 inch thick tablet has a dual core i5, 4GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, and runs Windows 8? Welcome to the future! Why can't all tablets be this thin and light? It really makes the Surface feel like a brick. However, when you start to examine it a little closer, you wonder also why Sony skimped on a lot of external design features. The port covers are incredibly flimsy, don't stay closed very well, and are ultimately unnecessary (reference the exposed ports on the Surface). The plastic casing on mine separates from the screen a little on the top, enough to wedge a fingernail in there. Same at the bottom when you press the Start button (which requires about twice as much pressure as I'd want...it's fairly hard to press. The capacitive button on the Surface is a much better solution). The pen clip is a bit finicky to get on (though once on it stays put very well), and it blocks the USB and HDMI ports. The power connector is the worst I've ever seen. It requires a lot of force to shove in, and then once it's in it's very loose in the socket. The variable kickstand is great, just very small. Works fantastic on a desk, not so much in your lap.

    Screen: Wonderful. Colors look almost identical to the Surface. It's maybe very slightly less crisp than the Surface, but you don't really see it unless you've got them side by side. The screen is the same resolution, but noticeably bigger than the Surface. The Tap 11 has a 10-1/8" x 5-11/16" (257mm x 144mm) display, while the Surface has a 9-1/4" x 5-1/4" (235mm x 132mm) display. In the desktop mode I use 100% font scaling (instead of the default 150%), and its quite manageable on the Tap 11 but difficult on the Surface, due to the different display size.

    Pen: If you're an artist, you can stop here: get the Surface. In OneNote, I don't notice a difference between the two. However, NTrig uses Microsoft's pen API, whereas Wacom uses both Microsoft's and the WinTAB API. Adobe applications use only the WinTAB API. Meaning, the pen works in Photoshop/Illustrator, but there's no pressure sensitivity. I've tried installing various drivers and whatnot and I can't get it to work. I'm not an artist, so this isn't a limiting factor to me, but it is annoying that Sony went with an NTrig pen instead of a Wacom. The tracking is also far slower on the NTrig, so you still get problems like this: 「VAIO Duo 13」と「VAIO Duo 11」のペン入力精度を比較 - YouTube

    Keyboard: The Tap 11's keyboard is great. It feel almost like a normal, though maybe cheap, laptop keyboard. Key spacing is nice, stroke length is decent, and there are few "dead zones" (where you press a key but it doesn't actually register a keypress. I've noticed one area on the Enter key and that's it). Compared to the Surface keyboard, the spacing is much better, and the fact that there are gaps between the keys is so much nicer than the Surface's keyboard which has no gaps. The trackpad is almost unusably bad though. Just use your finger or the pen. The magnetic attachment works well and it keeps the keyboard/cover in place very securely. The keyboard doesn't use bluetooth, but its own radio that can be turned on and off in Windows. I'm not sure how I feel yet about the fact that the keyboard does not hinge off the screen like on the Surface. Also, you can't charge the keyboard without placing it on top of the screen, causing the computer to be unusable as the batteries charge. I imagine this could get annoying.

    Performance and battery life: I don't have any hard numbers, but performance seems to be on par with the Surface. I rarely get any hangups or pauses, even when multitasking between Chrome, Mail, Photoshop, and Reader. You can find battery life tests online, but I'm estimating about 4 hours for the Tap 11 and 6 hours for the Surface.

    Overall: I'm conflicted. The Surface has impeccable build quality, feels very sturdy, and uses a Wacom pen. The Tap 11 is far thinner and lighter and has a significantly bigger screen. But the build quality concerns me...I don't want this to break in 3 months. And for that reason, I think I'm going to be sticking with the Surface...but I'm not really sure.

    Feel free to PM or leave a reply here if you'd like to see any specific tests run. I have about 2 more weeks before I have to make up my mind!
     
    pictogramax and hootenanny like this.
  2. ragh

    ragh Pen Pal - Newbie

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    So which one did you end up deciding on? I like that the tap 11 has a lower cost Pentium model for those that don't need the processing power of the i5. Do you still get the slight vectoring that the linked video showed on the Duo 11? The pen seemed to work much better on the Tap 11 model I tried at the Sony store compared to the Duo 11 (it was more similar to the Duo 13's performance). One thing really annoying about the Surface Pro and I believe Wacom devices in general is it is difficult to get the calibration right so that it works well over most of the screen. The cursor can vary quite a bit from the pen tip location at some parts of the screen even with careful calibration.
     
  3. Mhotep

    Mhotep Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Good review

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
     
  4. AlunReynolds

    AlunReynolds Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I would agree with the comparison of the wacom and ntrig styli. I am an artist and have found the ntrig more accurate. I use artrage a lot and the cursor to tip accuracy on the Tap 11 is good across the whole surface of the screen. Curves and circles are produced faithfully with no visible straight line segments. Pressure sensitivity certainly works in artrage.
     
  5. Nthknd

    Nthknd Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Sitting her with both and so lost as which one I want...The thin sexy one with the great screen or the beast with proven power and after market value. The surface is just so large and thick I feel like it's more of a laptop then a tablet. Guess I'll sleep on it and see where the morning takes me. Oh I did get the pentium since most of what I do is papers and seminars and it was an open box item so it was a hundred cheaper

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N900A using Tapatalk
     
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