Sony’s Tap 20: This Desktop PC Thinks It’s a Tablet

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Sony’s new VAIO Tap 20–one of a bunch of Windows 8 PCs it just announced–is a 20-inch all-in-one PC with a touchscreen and a wireless mouse and keyboard. Nothing particularly noteworthy about that. There are going to be plenty of touchscreen all-in-ones in the Windows 8 era.

But here’s where the Tap departs, sharply, from the norm: You can unplug it from the wall, fold up its stand, and tote it around as if it were the world’s most ginormous tablet.

Now, you’re not going to use it in the subway or, most likely, anywhere outside the home. It weighs 11 pounds, and Cnet’s Rich Brown found that it got less than four hours of battery life. It’s more luggable than portable.

But when Sony recently demoed the machine for me, it looked like it could be a lot of fun. When the Tap 20 is in conventional, vertically-oriented PC mode, you won’t want to do that much touch input–your arm would quickly tire. But when you lay it flat, using Windows 8 in full-touch mode makes far more sense. And as seen in the photo above, the Tap 20 is spacious enough to be used by more than one person at once, like a more compact version of the original table-top computer version of Microsoft Surface.

I even found that I could rest it on my lap comfortably enough–something I wouldn’t expect I could do with a device this expansive.

A couple of years ago, I said I wanted a huge honkin’ tablet. I arbitrarily mentioned a screen size of 17″. The Tap 20 is even huger and more honkin’ than that–and while I have no idea whether there’s a market here, I’m glad Sony is giving it a shot.

The Tap 20 uses an Intel Core i5 processor, has a hard disk but no DVD burner and comes in black and white versions. It starts at $879.99, and will be available late this month once Windows 8 ships.