Dell XPS 12 vs. Sony VAIO Duo 13: Battle of the Haswell Laptops
Image Credit: Intel_DE (XPS 12)

Dell XPS 12 vs. Sony VAIO Duo 13: Battle of the Haswell Laptops


Earlier this month at Computex 2013, Asia’s largest computer exhibition, Intel revealed its fourth-generation “Haswell” processors. Alongside the power-saving new chipsets, major computer manufacturers were showing off shiny new hardware refreshes that incorporate them.

With the rising popularity of tablet computing and ultraportable convertibles, The Diplomat takes a look at two laptop-tablet hybrids powered by the latest Haswell processors.

First up is the Dell XPS 12. The most striking feature, by far, is the rotating touchscreen housed in its aluminum frame. The refreshed Haswell version is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, with dimensions of 12.48 x 8.46 x 0.79 inches and 3.35 pounds. The 1080p screen measures 12.5 inches diagonally and features capacitive multi-touch.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

As the name implies, most would expect the Sony VAIO Duo 13 to be slightly larger than the Dell. Although the screen is bigger, at 13.3 inches diagonal, Sony’s model is smaller in every way except width. Its dimensions are 12.99 x 8.27 x 0.77. It weighs a mere 2.93 pounds, almost half a pound less than the Dell. The VAIO Duo 13 also has 1080p resolution, but its multi-touch screen uses dual-digitizer technology.

Both the XPS 12 and VAIO Duo 13 can be configured with either an Intel Core i5 or i7 chip. With the i5 (4200U) both computers have a turbo clockspeed of 2.6GHz. However, the XPS 12 and VAIO Duo 13 have slightly different models of the Haswell i7. The Dell comes with the Core i7-4650U with a turbo clockspeed of 3.3GHz, while the Sony gets the Core i7-4500U rated at 3GHz.

“Intel has claimed that Haswell chips will improve laptop battery life by 50 percent compared to previous Core processors code-named Ivy Bridge, which shipped last year,” wrote PCWorld. This means the latest XPS 12 will last up to 9.5 hours between charges, with the VAIO Duo 13 boasting more than 10 hours of battery life.

Another minor difference lies in the audio and webcam options. The XPS 12 uses a one-speaker system and a 1.3MP front-facing webcam that produces 720p video. Sony’s offering, on the other hand, sports two speakers and a 2.07MP webcam capable of 1080p video capture.

The XPS 12 and VAIO Duo 13 have identical Intel graphics cards, the HD Graphics 4400. Base RAM is 4GB, maxing out at 8GB for both. Solid state drives for each computer start at 128GB, with a maximum of 512GB. Both also come equipped with NFC (near field communication).

There are two issues involving the screens of each of these rival convertibles. With the XPS, tilting the screen within the frame will disable the keyboard and force it into tablet mode. While limiting viewing angles, this also misses a chance for added productivity. “On a cramped airplane, it'd be nice to be able to position the screen directly above your hands while you type things on the physical keys, but you'll have to use the touchscreen keyboard instead,” wrote The Verge.

Similarly, the VAIO suffers from a similar viewing-angle issue, as the sliding style allows only one position when the screen is open. SmallBizTrends explained that “the slant of the screen when the device is in laptop configuration cannot be adjusted and may not be for everyone.”

The Dell is offered in black, while the Sony is offered in black and white. Both utilize carbon fiber and aluminum in the computers’ construction.

The Dell XPS 12 starts at $1,199 and the Sony VAIO Duo 13 starts at $1,399. The Sony’s larger screen and lower weight may justify the increased price, but the Dell seems equally capable for the lower price tag. Perhaps the Sony is better suited for jet-setting business travelers, for whom the deviations in size and weight matter the most (and who probably have more money to spare).

The Dell might be a better option for everyday users due to the more varied viewing angles, especially if you have children who are looking at the screen from a lower angle. In the end, brand loyalty will probably trump specs for these quite evenly-matched competitors.

Do you own either of these computers? Which would you rather buy? Share your opinions in the comment section below.

Update: As one of our more passionate readers has pointed out, the VAIO Duo 13 has an available SD card slot, while the XPS 12 does not. The XPS 12 will begin shipping on July 7, and the VAIO Duo 13 is available now.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief