Bonnie Cha

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Sony Takes Different Angle With Vaio Tap 20, Duo 11 Windows 8 PCs

With just about every other PC manufacturer unveiling their Windows 8 devices over the past few weeks, you knew it was only a matter of time before Sony got in on the action, too.

Today, the company took the wraps off its Vaio line for fall, which includes Sony’s first hybrid Ultrabook and tabletop PC.

The Sony Vaio Tap 20 is probably one of the most exciting Windows 8 products I’ve seen yet, and to be amped up over an all-in-one PC is saying something.

The Vaio Tap 20 features a tilting 20-inch, 1,600 by 900-pixel IPS touchscreen than can be laid flat on a table, and isn’t bound by wires since it has a built-in battery. It reminded me of a mini Microsoft Surface (not this Surface, but that Surface) — one that doesn’t cost a fortune (prices start at $880) and actually has practical use in the home.

In its upright position, you can use it for everyday tasks like working on documents, surfing the Web and checking email and social networks. The Vaio Tap 20 comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse, and an app called Fingertapps Organizer that lets you share calendars and leave messages for family members.

Then, for a little fun, you can unplug the Vaio Tap 20 and place it flat on a coffee table to play games. When I met with Sony a couple of weeks ago, they demoed several games, like jigsaw puzzles and doodling apps for kids, and since the screen offers 10-point mulitouch, more than one person can use it at once.

The company said it is working with developers to create more compatible games, such as My Daily Clip, a movie trivia game, and claims that the Vaio Tap 20’s battery can last around three hours before needing a recharge.

I thought it was a very clever and useful way of expanding the design and capabilities of a traditional desktop PC. One thing I asked Sony about is larger touchscreen models, since I felt the 20-inch display could get a little crowded with more than two adult users. The company said there weren’t any specific products in the works, but did not rule it out for the future.

For those who need a more mobile product, and one better suited for business users, there is the Sony Vaio Duo 11.

The Windows 8 PC transforms from an Ultrabook to a tablet using a slider mechanism. Sony says it has put the hinge through hours of testing, which I’m sure is true, but I’m always wary of this type of design for long-term durability.

In all, the Vaio Duo 11 weighs 2.84 pounds and features an 11.6-inch, full-HD touchscreen. It’s also equipped with a backlit keyboard and optical sensor, and comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus. At the high end, the machine can be built with eight gigabytes of memory, a 256GB solid-state drive and Intel’s Core i7 processor. Ports include USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI and an SD card reader. Pricing begins at $1,100.

In addition to the Vaio Tap 20 and Duo 11, Sony announced several touch-enabled versions of its existing Vaio laptops, including the Vaio T13 Ultrabook and Vaio E 14P.

All of the products are expected to be available at the end of October.

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