Sony Tap 20 review: A Windows 8 all-in-one that's also a humongous tablet

As you might guess, this new Windows 8-based Sony all-in-one isn't your average AIO. Inside the modest exterior beats the heart of an Ultrabook, along with a ten-point multitouch screen and a built-in battery. So you can either think of the Tap 20 (also known by the sexy name SVJ20215CXW) as a smallish AIO or a really big tablet. In reality, it's a little of both.

Sony's latest desktop effort is one cool example of the experimentation in form factors we're starting to see with Windows 8 hardware. Yes, manufacturers will be shipping stock clamshell laptops and ordinary desktop PCs with ten-point multitouch as an option, and PCWorld will be reviewing many of them as they come out. But if is to be truly successful, products such as Sony's Tap 20 will be key.

In putting the Tap 20 through its paces, I started with a little photo editing on its decidedly smallish (at least for an AIO) 20-inch, 1600-by-900-pixel display. It was a constraining experience, compared with the more expansive displays I'm used to working with. Then I unplugged the unit, took it upstairs, laid it flat on my dining-room table, and played Pinball FX 2.

Notice the smudges on the Sony system in the photo above. Fingerprints on glass will become a way of life, as it is with normal tablets. As more touch-enabled PCs arrive, accessories such as cleaning cloths will be a hot item for those users who dislike fingerprints.

Sony has built its new AIO on mobile PC technology, including the same 1.7GHz ultra-low-voltage Core i5-3317U CPU used in many mainstream Ultrabooks, with a Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz when needed. The system also has 4GB of system memory and uses Intel's own HD 4000 integrated graphics to take care of display chores. Storage tasks fall to a 750GB mobile hard drive with no SSD cache, so the storage performance can be a little poky. No optical drive is built in; either you get your video or audio content via the network, or you attach an external optical drive.