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Sony VAIO DUO: Bag of tricks required

My DUO needs lots of helpers to really work.

I have been using my VAIO DUO 13 for a few weeks now. While it is a great attempt at a hybrid tablet/computer combination, in order for this machine to be used as an everyday computing device, I have learned to always travel with my own bag of tricks in my backpack. Like any modern day Felix the Cat, my bag of tricks allows my DUO to perform all of the tasks that I require of it.

As can be seen by the picture underneath, my bag of tricks starts with a USB bus which allows me to plug multiple devices and accessories into my computer. The computer itself only has two USB ports that are very close together. Sometimes plugging a USB device into one port blocks the second port from being accessed. By using the USB bus I can plug up to five USB accessories into my computer. It's a lucky thing I can as it takes three or four USB accessories for me to really be able to use this computer as my everyday computing device.

Beyond the USB bus the most important USB accessory is my USB-to-Ethernet cable. Because the DUO has no built in Ethernet adapter, a USB to Ethernet connector is a must. In my office, due to PCI concerns they don't have a wireless network available. I actually have two USB-to-Ethernet adapters - one is a USB 2.0 and the other is a USB 3.0 connector. Frankly, I haven't seen a big difference in performance between the USB 2 0. and USB 3.0 models. This may be a function of the speed of the wired networks I am plugging into, though.

The next USB port is my wireless adapter. While I often use the DUO's built-in wireless adapter, I find that it still does not function as well as the Linksys A/C adapter that I had bought. Unfortunately, plugging that adapter directly into the machine blocks the other USB Port from being used. 

My next USB port is used by my printer on my desk. While it would be great if I used a network printer or wireless accessible printer, I don't have that luxury. I have a small printer on my desk that I use in the office. I have no choice but to plug it into my machine.

Next is a USB Port I use for my headphones. As I've written about earlier, the keyboard on my DUO is too tight for my fat fingers, so I find using Windows Speech Recognition application is a major upgrade. But the noise-canceling microphone and headphone require yet another USB Port.

Another frequent USB device in my bag of tricks is my portable mouse. I find the mini-touchpad on the DUO very difficult to use, especially when I have to select a large portion of text or area to cut or copy. Using the mouse is a lot easier. So the mini-mouse has been yet another addition to my bag of tricks.

The last trick in my bag of tricks is my HDMI-to-VGA dongle. This actually came with the DUO. Because the machine does not have a VGA Port in order to connect to older external monitors or projectors, the dongle is a must. It actually works really well. The HDMI porch, however, is right next to the USB port and sometimes that can be pretty tight if you have both USB and HDMI accessories to connect.

So, as you can see, it's a little bit like Felix the Cat carrying around his bag of tricks. Many of my friends have laughed and poked fun at me asking why I would want to use a machine that requires me to have all of these accessories in order to get through my day. I've asked myself the same question. It is a bit of a pain carrying around all of this stuff and the backpack. However, there are times when I just take my DUO, put it in its case and use it as a tablet. There are still many things I like about this machine.

In a perfect world, I would love my DUO to be used on weekends and when I'm traveling and for lighter tasks, but still have a machine like my old VAIO FIT for everyday office work. However using two laptops is a luxury that many of us can't afford.

One accessory that I find myself hardly ever using is the stylus that came with the machine. It sits in its cradle and the only time it comes out is if by accident I knock it out. Maybe I just haven't tried hard enough to understand the best use for it. That is something I will work on in the coming weeks.

So for those of you thinking about purchasing a SONY VAIO DUO, keep in mind that it is a good machine, but like me and Felix the Cat you may need to have your own bag of tricks if you want to use it every day.

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