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Sony offers a magnetic solution to the Windows 8 hybrid problem

Sony offers a magnetic solution to the Windows 8 hybrid problem

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At IFA in Berlin this week there have been a host of new Windows 8 laptops and PCs. Some small enough for your pocket, ones that recline into your lap, and the usual hybrids that twist and turn from laptop to tablet. While Acer, Lenovo, and Samsung have experimented with their own unique flipping laptops, Sony has now entered the game. The new VAIO multi-flip PC is the latest attempt to merge tablet, laptop, and desktop computing into a single device.

The multi-flip PC looks like a normal Windows 8 laptop. It has an aluminum casing and a Haswell processor. The 13-inch model features a 1920 x 1080 display. On the 15-inch that jumps to 2880 x 1620, but both feature a full backlit keyboard with a trackpad. Unlike Acer's R7, the trackpad is located in the usual position beneath the keyboard. There's also an N-trig stylus that supports pressure sensitivity in apps like Adobe Photoshop. Looking past the basic specs, the interesting part is Sony's mechanism to flip this laptop into a tablet, and more.

You can adjust the hinge and display by simply sliding a control beneath the screen. Initially, it lets you slide the display back and forth to cover the keyboard. Pushing back on the display reveals the flip where it rotates over the base and suddenly it's a tablet form factor. Magnets hold the screen in place in either position, but if you want to freestyle then it's possible to have the screen rest between the two modes as if it's floating. Unlike some of the other transforming and hybrid Windows 8 PCs, this feels like it has been done right. It's more sturdy than it looks, and once you're used to the way it flips and transforms then it gets addictive. That's the real party trick of the device.

While Lenovo has seen success with its Yoga machine, even introducing additional models this week, the competition is taking things further into a form factor that twists and slides into almost any view you want from a laptop / tablet hybrid. I've been searching for the perfect Windows 8 PC that successfully combines tablet and notebook in a device that's not too heavy, has a great display, good battery life, and has a strong build regardless of the mode it's being operated in. Samsung, Acer, and Sony are trying to combine the desktop, laptop, and tablet and they're getting closer to a product that might just cram every PC option you need into one package. I've not spent enough time with Sony's latest effort to know whether it's any closer, but for now it's the latest challenger in the crazy world of Windows 8 hybrids.