The Bottom Line
Nov 7 2012 - For those looking to get a Windows based tablet, the ASUS VivoTab RT is a good alternative to the Microsoft Surface with some added features such as better cameras and a thinner and lighter profile. it does sacrifice some sturdiness to achieve this profile. The problem remains with the functionality and pricing versus ultrabooks and other laptops that are fully compatible with previous and current desktop and laptop Windows programs.
- Thin and Lightweight
- Good Cameras For A Tablet
- Dock Adds to Functionality and Running Times
- Pricing Pushes It To Low Cost Ultrabook Range
- Doesn't Have The Same Sturdy Quality As The Surface
- Applications Slow To Launch
- 1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (Cortex-A9) Quad Core Processor
- 2GB Memory
- 32GB Storage
- 10.1" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display
- 2.0 Megapixel Front Camera, 8.0 Megapixel Rear Camera With Flash
- NVIDIA Tegra Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Dock Connector, micro-HDMI, Mirco-SD Card Slot, 3.5mm Audio Jack
- 10.3" x 6.7" x .33" @ 1.16 lbs.
- Windows RT, Office Home and Student 2013 Preview
Review - ASUS VivoTab RT
Nov 7 2012 - The ASUS VivoTab RT is the first third part tablet to feature the Windows RT operating systems. It should be noted that this is the tablet version of the operating system and not the full version. This means that your applications from your standard desktop or laptop will not run on this. To make up for this, Microsoft does include some of the Office productivity applications with the operating system. The look and feel of the operating system is the same as you would find on other computers just not quite as quick or responsive.
That tablet shares much of the same design elements that make up its Transformer series of tablets but with a bit more laid back style. One such example is the rear of the tablet that mixes a standard brushed metal finish with a rubberized section of plastic. On one hand, it doesn't seem to have the wireless problems of some of the other Android based Transformer tablets but it just doesn't feel or like as nice as them. It certainly doesn't have the same level of sturdiness as Microsoft's Surface RT tablet. What it does offer though is a much lighter weight at under one and a quarter pounds and just a third of an inch thick.
Performance from the tablet was a bit mixed even though it is using the same NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor that is the the Surface RT and other Android tablets. Overall, the performance seems to be rather good especially when switching between open applications and even booting it up. The problem seems to be when opening up applications there is a noticeable delay unlike when you switch between programs. This is likely a reflection on the Windows RT operating system than the underlying hardware.
The display for the ASUS VivoTab RT uses a Super IPS+ panel with a native resolution of 1366x768. This is a similar resolution to what is found in the Microsoft Surface RT but has the added benefit of an amazing bright screen that is more than capable of being used in the toughest conditions including bright sunlight. Using it at the highest brightness settings will of course eat into the battery life. Viewing angles were very wide and colors good but not nearly the same level that Apple has achieved with the Retina display of the iPad 4. The multitouch interface was accurate enough with little to no lag.
One advantage that the VivoTab RT has over the surface is the inclusion of both front and rear cameras. The front camera doubles the resolution of the Surface RT to two megapixels which allows for greater resolution and detail for Skype webcam chats. The rear camera is a very high eight megapixels that offers some of the best performance available in a tablet form. Low light performance was good if a bit off for the color. Of course, the larger tablet size makes shooting stills and videos with the rear camera difficult.
One of the big additions that the ASUS VivoTab RT brings with it is a keyboard and battery dock just like the various Transformer series tablets. With this optional dock, the VivoTab RT is transformer from a strict tablet into a ultraportable style hybird. It offers a full keyboard layout albeit at a reduced size compared to most laptops that offers a much better experience if you have to type for extended periods of time. It certainly is more accurate than the Touch Cover of the Surface RT but the downside is that it does increase the overall size and weight. In addition, it comes with a trackpad device that is actually functional compared to the one found on the Touch Cover. The downside is that with the keyboard dock attached to the VivoTab RT, it ends up being nearly three quarters of an inch thick and weight two and a quarter pounds. With the added cost and weight, it ends up almost being better for consumers to look at getting a full Windows 8 based ultrabook.
The internal battery for the ASUS VivoTab RT has a capacity rating of 25WHr. This is noticeable smaller than the Microsoft Surface RT's 31.5WHr but the ASUS tablet is thinner and lighter than Microsofts. In my standard digital video playback test, the tablet was able to run for just under nine and half hours before going into standby mode. This is impressive considering that the ASUS tablet has nearly the same hardware internally and falls within a half hour of the Microsoft tablet. It still is lower than the class leading iPad Mini with its remarkable twelve hours in its diminutive size. Of course, the optional keyboard dock does add an additional 22WHr battery which provides roughly an additional four and a half hours for nearly fourteen total hours of running time.
Priced at $599, the ASUS VivoTab has the unfortunate honor of being more expensive that Microsoft's Surface RT at just $499. Of course, if you add in the Touch Cover for the Surface RT, the price then does jump up to the same $599 price. In addition to this, ASUS does appear to be offering the keyboard dock for the VivoTab RT with registration but this could be a limited time offer to compete with Microsoft's pricing. On the whole, the ASUS has a bit more features than Microsoft's tablet but the overall build quality and feel of the Surface is just better.