Make no mistake: Touch typists will not like the keyboard on the Duo 11. Really, the most postiive thing I can say about the keyboard is that it's functional, offers tactile feedback, and is a little easier to use than an on-screen keyboard. For the most part, however, the keyboard is cramped and uncomfortable. Luckily, the sliding hinge seems durable enough. And given that that the Duo 11 will likely be used more in tablet mode than laptop mode, the slider bit works pretty well.
The entire affair weighs 2 pounds, 13 ounces--under 3 pounds, in other words. The 11.6-inch screen is an IPS display offering full HD (1080p) resolution. Sony also includes an N-trig stylus that supports 256 pressure levels, making it a useful adjunct for artistically inclined users. If what you need is a tablet for touch-sensitive art applications, the Duo 11 bears closer scrutiny.
PC performance in a tablet design: Acer Iconia W700
In the Iconia W700, Acer crams an Ultrabook into a relatively thin tablet. No one will mistake this device for an iPad or Microsoft's Surface RT, but in weight and thickness, it's pretty close to what Microsoft's Surface Pro will be. It's also 2.1 pounds; while that's significantly lighter than the Sony Duo 11, it still means that lugging it around propped on your forearm (as many tablet users do) may get tiring.
The tradeoff for the weight is robust, PC-like performance and features, including USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI video output. As with most tablets, it's got both forward-facing and rear-facing cameras.
As with Sony's Duo 11, the Iconia includes a full HD, 1920-by-1080 display. This delivers gorgeous-looking images and text, but it's also problematic for touch use when running desktop applications. It's simply difficult to put one's finger on desktop buttons and window bars that render so small. While Acer bundles a Bluetooth keyboard, the only pointing device is the touch interface itself--no mouse is included, and the keyboard lacks a trackpad. The W700 is really the purest, most recent incarnation of Bill Gates' vision of the Tablet PC.
But the real problem lies with the overall size, bulk, and weight. An 11.6-inch tablet, particularly with a 16:9 aspect ratio, will always be a little awkward to hold and use in landscape mode. Portrait mode is a little more usable, but often won't accommodate documents at their full width.
Nonetheless, despite all these caveats, if you're looking for a pure tablet that offers PC-like performance, the W700 delivers. It's a nice product, but we expect the Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro to eclipse the W700 early next year.
The pure tablet: Microsoft Surface RT