Sony Vaio Tap 20 review
1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U, 6GB RAM, 20in 1,600x900 display, Windows 8
The 20in screen seems massive, at least when compared to the laptops most people tout around their homes. The display resolution of 1,600x900 is sufficient for its size, and though not Full HD, such high-quality video looks great on it.
We particularly liked being able to flip the PC into portrait mode when working on text documents or reading long web articles. This mode meant that we were able to comfortably fill our screen with text, without all the usual wasted space on each side. If you're using the PC in its more conventional landscape orientation, you can fold the PC down to flat just by pushing firmly at the top of the screen with one finger. Laid flat on a table, the Tap 20's big enough for several people to view and use at once. It even comes with some multi-touch family drawing games to show this off.
Portrait mode means you can see a lot more of documents at once
The most annoying characteristic of the display is its extremely glossy finish. In portrait mode, it was particularly prone to blinding reflections of ceiling lights across the upper part of the screen. Meanwhile, the characteristically darker tones of games and movies means that you'll get to see a lot of your own reflection if you watch in a brightly lit room. The high-gloss finish also picks up fingerprints quite easily, but these aren't too noticeable except on very dark screens and they clean up well. It's also pleasingly tough, standing up well to our attempts at drawing and tapping at games.
The ten-point touchscreen is brilliantly sensitive, whether you're trying to control a casual game or flip through Windows 8's Start Screen, and the display has none of the grittiness that we've seen from some cheaper touchscreens. Image quality is also fantastic, with very even lighting and bright, rich colour reproduction. Colours are perhaps a little artificial in their intensity, but the overall effect is flattering and even skin tones - always a challenge - looked natural. While the PC's glossy reflectivity can be annoying if you've got awkwardly positioned lights, we can't imagine the Tap without said gloss finish, either.
Drawing together is great fun with the tablet folded flat
Although the stand at the back lets you choose between landscape and portrait orientations, there's not much flexibility in terms of what angle you have it at, particularly in portrait mode. We'd love to see a wall-mounting dock for the Tap, allowing it to be clipped in and out of place, but there are no integrated mounting options.
Typically for a Sony device, the Tab comes installed with a lot of trial software that you're not going to need, register or use, including a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 with a time-limited free trial (as opposed to the free Starter edition). There's also a casual games portal and a trial edition of McAfee Internet Security. You're best off removing the vast majority of the pre-installed software before doing anything else.
The Tap 20 feels like a genuine step forward in all-in-one PC design: lighter, better looking and more portable than anything else on the market. It's all rather futuristic, even compared to other all-in-ones, let alone regular desktop machines. At £999, it's rather expensive, but there's nothing quite like it on the market. We can see it finding a home in a style-conscious sitting room or front office or as a family entertainment PC. It's brilliant to use, very tactile and we'd love to have one.