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It's a desktop! It's a tablet! Dell XPS 18 vs. Sony Vaio Tap 20

Brian Nadel | May 31, 2013
We look at the Dell XPS 18 and the Sony Vaio Tap 20: Two all-in-ones that transform into large-scale tablets. Is this an alteration you can work with?

I really like the way that the stand folds up to create a convenient handle to lug the system around. Due to the system's weight, though, the handle can be a little awkward at times. And be aware that the display is too heavy to rest on a lap for any length of time; it's really meant to be carried from room to room and set up on a table.

The Sony Tap 20 Mobile Desktop comes equipped with a matte-silver U-shaped arm on the back that props the system up; it can also be used as a convenient carrying handle.

The $900 Tap 20 model I tested has a 1.7HGz Intel Core i5 3317U dual-core processor that can speed up to as fast as 2.6GHz if needed. The system came with 4GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. Sony has two other models: an $880 version that uses a Core i3 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, and a $1,100 Core i7 system with 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive.

All of the Tap 20 models have a slightly better assortment of ports than the XPS 18: along with the two USB 3.0 ports and the audio plug, it includes a wired Ethernet connection and a flash card reader that works with SD and MemoryStick cards.

There's also 802.11n Wi-Fi networking and Bluetooth, but the Tap 20 lacks HDMI and VGA ports. It has WiDi for sending images and video to a TV.

Includes NFC
It also has an NFC chip built in, something that Sony is integrating into many of its computers. The chip has the potential to ease the setup of wireless devices by simply touching an NFC-aware device to the chip's location on the back of the Tap 20. The NFC system worked like a charm, connecting Sony's SRS-BTV5 speaker by just tapping it on the back of the system.

You probably won't need to use external speakers, though, because the Tap 20 has excellent built-in audio. It not only sounds rich, full and vibrant but its speakers get more than loud enough to annoy neighbors.

At a Glance
Vaio Tap 20 Mobile Desktop

SonyPrice: $880 (1.8GHZ Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD, configurable), $900 (1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 750GB HD), $1,100 (1.9GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDPros: Stand becomes handle, removable battery, good (and loud) sound, Ethernet and other connectionsCons: Display doesn't offer full HD, heavy and awkward to carry around

Up front, the Tap 20 has a prominent Home button, while on the back there are buttons for turning the Tap 20 on, adjusting the volume, locking the screen orientation and getting help via Sony's online VaioCare. The system has a matching wireless mouse and keyboard that has dedicated keys for volume control, mute and app keys for the Web and email.


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