I recently got to spend some time with Sony and their latest generation of VAIO laptops. I was also privileged enough to get to play with the new Xperia Tablet Z.

The VAIO range consisted of the S-Series, T-Series, DUO and Tap. Each model is aimed at a slightly different market, but they all have some key things in common.

The first thing to note is the exceptional build quality of the range (as to be expected from Sony). Each model has been constructed using high quality materials and they are a joy to hold/use.

The second thing to note is the price. I don’t know about you, but whenever the name VAIO comes up, I instantly think of an expensive high-end laptop that requires taking out a second mortgage. Thankfully, Sony has managed to maintain the high quality of the VAIO brand whilst keeping the prices almost reasonable.

They all run a full version of Windows 8 and have Sony’s cool ‘Gesture Control’ feature built in. Gesture Control allows you to wave your hand in front of the screen to skip music tracks, change volume or even browse web pages.

It may sound like a gimmicky feature, but the gestures are actually practical. For instance, if you have wet or dirty hands (from whatever you were doing previously), you wouldn’t want to touch the keyboard/screen and ruin that beautiful looking laptop.

So lets take a look at the range.


The S-Series is a light and powerful Ultrabook. It comes sporting either a 13.3” or a 15.5” display and is powered by the Intel i5 processor (an i7 version is also available).

It is very fast and handles most tasks with ease.

It has two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, VGA, an SD card slot and a space to insert your Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo cards (of course). There is also a slot loading Blu-Ray/DVD drive (like you’d find on a MacBook).

  • 13.3” / 15.5”
  • Black / Silver
  • i5 / i7 Intel Core
  • 500GB / Hybrid HDD 750 GB + SSD
  • 6GB RAM
  • Windows 8 Pro 64bit
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • 1.78KG
  • From £620


The latest T-Series Ultrabook has a fully functional touchscreen.

It is a lot thinner and lighter that it looks and is also a lot more powerful. Inside is the same Intel i7 from the S-Series, but the T has a hybrid Hard Drive. The hybrid is a 500GB HDD + 32GB SSD.

The SSD part is used solely to run the operating system, so this thing starts up (and runs) VERY quickly. From being fully switched off, I clocked it booting up in less than 20 seconds!

  • 13.3”” Touch Screen
  • Silver
  • Intel Core i7 processor
  • 500GB HDD + 32GB SSD
  • 4GB Memory
  • Windows 8 Pro 64bit
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • From £539


The Duo is easily my favorite model in the VAIO range, but also the most expensive. 7

It is a combination of a Tablet and an Ultrabook. It can sit flat on a table or convert into an upright position revealing the keyboard.

The problem with the Duo is that is doesn’t fully know what it wants to be. It is too heavy to be used as a tablet and the keyboard is too small to really work as a laptop. The reasons I like it so much, are because of the amazing HD screen and the connectivity.

It sports HDMI, VGA and has two USB 3.0 ports (something that tablets traditionally exclude).

  • Full HD 11.6” Touch screen
  • Intel Core i7 processor
  • 256 SSD
  • 8GB RAM
  • Windows 8 Pro 64bit
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Pen-like digitizer stylus
  • From £959

Tap 20

The Tap 20 can be described as an ‘all-in-one-pc’ (similar to an iMac).

Essentially, it is a 20” tablet, but you won’t see anyone using it on the train as it weighs 5.2kg! As with all tablets, the Tap can be used when not plugged in to the mains. It has an inbuilt battery allowing up to 3 hours of use and is light enough to carry around the house.

  • 20” Touch Screen
  • White
  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • 1TB HDD
  • 6GB Memory
  • Windows 8 Home 64bit
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse
  • From £869

Xperia Tablet Z

Last and definitely not least, is the Xperia Tablet Z. This is the incredibly thin and light tablet first revealed at MWC. Sony showed us it was waterproof by submerging the 10.1” tablet in a fish bowl. I actually tested this and yes, this thing really is waterproof!

I also cannot stress just how light and thin the Xperia Tablet Z is. It even makes some 7” tablets look and feel bulky. The Quad-Core snapdragon processor powers the Android 4.1.2 Jellybean OS and it is more than sufficient.

The UK release is not until May, but I expect this tablet to fly off the shelves as it costs only £400.

  • 10.1” Touch Screen
  • Black
  • Snapdragon Quad Core 1.5Ghz 
  • 6.9MM thin
  • Front 8 MP camera with Exmor R
  • Back 2 MP for HD chat
  • Weighs under 500 grams
  • 16GB to 32GB memory
  • WIFI and/or 4G
  • Water resistant
  • Dust resistant
  • Anti Shatter glass
  • From £400

Overall, the latest VAIO range is very good. The prices are still above what we would like to pay, but you do get quality for your money. The S and T-Series are small and powerful, the Duo is a good tablet/ultrabook hybrid and the Tap 20 is a great all-in-one PC. The problem for Sony is that the competition are doing similar things with their ranges, but at a lower cost.

The Xperia Tablet Z is a ‘game changer’ to me. It is one of the best tablets I’ve ever used and should sell lots when it finally hits stores in May. The key things that should help it do well are its size, weight and price.