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Sony VAIO Flip 15

Retail price: €1199.00


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Sony VAIO Flip 15
Retail price:
€ 1199.00
15 seconden
Auction start:
2019-07-11 18:00:00
End of auction not later than:
2019-10-11 18:00:00
Shipping costs:
€ 8.50

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Sony VAIO Flip 15 review:

Sony's new convertible is cheaper, bigger than most !!

When Sony first teased the VAIO Flip series, we were sure it was going to look like the Lenovo Yoga. After all, here was a laptop with a screen that presumably could fold back so that it faced away from the keyboard. And with Sony comparing its new laptops to origami projects, well, it was hard not to imagine something inspired by the Yoga. As it turns out, though, Sony was watching the competition carefully, crafting a product that would avoid some of the mistakes other companies made. Though the Flip does indeed have a screen that can face outward, it folds over itself so that even when you're using the PC in tablet mode, the keyboard doesn't end up exposed like it does on the Yoga.

Also, whereas Sony's rivals have mainly stuck with 11- to 13-inch models, Sony's new convertibles are bigger, ranging in size from 13 to 15 inches. Though the specs and prices vary from size to size, we're taking a look at the 15-inch model today. And there's a reason for that: aside from the Acer Aspire R7, we haven't encountered many big-screen convertibles. And with starting prices of $800 and $750 for the 15- and 14-inch models, respectively, these are also some of the only mid-range machines we can think of that also sport funky form factors. So is this design any more useful than the other convertibles out there? Let's see.

Look and feel

The VAIO Flip 15 represents the crème de la crème of Sony's laptop hardware: the lid and deck (not just the palm rest) are made of aluminum; the keyboard is backlit; and the familiar diamond-cut logo sits on the back. And, really, we'd expect no less from a machine meant to rival high-end multitaskers like the Dell XPS 12 and last year's the Yoga 13. Even more than those devices, though, the Flip feels very much like a notebook first, and a tablet second.

If anything gives away that the Flip isn't a standard clamshell notebook, it's the conspicuous line running across the lid. When the machine's closed, you might mistake this seam for a subtle, if strange, design flourish, but engage the laptop's flipping function and you'll discover a rubber hinge behind the display. This, of course, is responsible for the Flip's ability to -- you guessed it -- flip.

Interestingly, the deck extends a bit over the left and right edges of the machine, making you work harder (but not much) to access the ports. Speaking of, let's get those out of the way. The right side houses the power button, an Ethernet jack with a drop-down jaw at the bottom, a USB 3.0 connection, full-size SD card slot and a mic jack. Turn to the left edge, and you'll find a mini-HDMI socket, along with two more USB 3.0 ports and a sizable fan. While we're at it, other odds and ends include a webcam and NFC support.

As a relative latecomer to this category of convertibles, Sony had the advantage of learning from its competitors' mistakes. Case in point: tablet mode. On Lenovo's Yoga line, the keyboard remains exposed, so that you can feel the loose keys beneath your fingers when you're holding the device in your hands like a tablet. With the Flip, on the other hand, the bottom half of the device remains in place, meaning the keyboard faces inward, so you can rest your fingers against a smooth surface, just like on any other tablet. Viewer mode, meanwhile (with the screen facing away from the keyboard), is a nice-to-have feature that still feels like a bit of a parlor trick. You don't need to flip the screen to enjoy a movie on the laptop, but having the keyboard out of the way is nice, and switching the machine between positions is kinda fun.

Overall, there isn't much we would change about the Flip's design. Sliding the lock switch beneath the display to the left lets you lift the screen to pull it forward over the keyboard or flip the panel around to face outward. It takes considerable pressure on the lid's hinge to lift up the display, but this helps the machine feel sturdy and secure. After all, when you're transitioning the laptop between positions, the last thing you want is flimsy hardware. As for returning the touchscreen to its standard laptop position, magnets on the inside seamlessly guide it back into place.

As you'd expect, the 15-inch Flip makes for one hulking tablet. It's meant for resting in your lap rather than gripping with both hands, and even then it's still rather weighty. Also, due to the Flip's hinged-lid design, the display doesn't lie completely flat in slate mode. Rather, it's propped at a slight angle, which is helpful for reading and browsing the web, and also emphasizes the device's unwieldy size even further. Ultimately, the 15-inch version of the Flip is compelling for one reason only: the display. If anything is going to make 5.05 pounds more palatable, it's that 2,880 x 1,620 resolution option. Poor, unfortunate souls that we are, we were stuck with the 1,920 x 1,080 panel that comes standard, though it's still more than satisfactory. We're just saying: if you're going to go big, you might as well splurge for the extra pixels.

Keyboard, trackpad and pen

The Flip's well-spaced, island-style keyboard is slightly recessed, making it easy to find by feel. When we first saw the VAIO last month, we had high hopes for the keyboard. First impressions -- especially on a dummy unit -- are often unfounded, though, and such is the case with this model. The chiclets offer decent travel, but the keyboard deck itself exhibits a lot of flex; press down on any key, and you'll likely feel the surface give beneath you. When I did a quick typing test, my error rate was higher than usual, though the words-per-minute score was the same as always. We wouldn't call this keyboard bad, per se, but it's especially disappointing because it's almost there.

On the other hand, the Synaptics touchpad is generally reliable. Swiping in from the right, clicking and tapping on web pages and everything else you'd normally do with a clicker work perfectly. Occasionally we encountered a bit of drag getting the cursor to go where we wanted it to, but otherwise, there's not much else to say; it simply works.

Finally, Sony offers an N-trig active digitizer as a $40 upgrade. The pressure-sensitive pen works well for tapping icons on-screen and using apps such as VAIO Paper. We actually just tested the same pen digitizer on the Tap 11, where it comes as a standard feature, and found that it picked up handwriting and doodle marks even when we applied just faint pressure. That bodes well for both drawing and note-taking.

Display and sound

As we mentioned earlier, the VAIO Flip 15 can be configured with a 2,880 x 1,620 touchscreen, though our review unit tops out at a more modest resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. (With few exceptions, all of Sony's new laptops have a minimum resolution of 1080p.) Even with the lower-resolution option, though, this is a fine display. In general, really, Sony's killing it with the viewing angles on its notebook screens; just like on the Pro 11 and Duo 13, we were able to keep watching movies from off to the side, or with the display dipped far forward. Particularly with the brightness cranked all the way up (a luxury you can afford when this big machine is plugged in), it's vibrant enough that even the glossy finish doesn't get in the way.

The thing about the Flip 15 is that although it's about the same size as your typical multimedia machine, it shares the same guts as the Flip 13 and Flip 14 -- more Ultrabook-like machines. So, as big as this notebook is, the sound is on par with what you'd get from a smaller system. Which is to say, the audio doesn't get as loud as you'd expect, and the quality is quite hollow, especially at top volume. That didn't stop us from streaming Pandora on it, but given the choice, we'd sooner choose any number of other machines for music listening, with the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus being our number one pick.