Quad-core processor; Bright, sharp responsive display; 64GB of expandable storage, along with SkyDrive; Dock offers double the battery life as well as a physical keyboard
A little awkward to type with dock; Windows 8 too simple and has the odd quirk; Shortage of decent apps as yet.
The Asus Vivo Tab RT is a really portable device with loads of features, as well as some major power and the excellent keyboard dock. The Windows 8 RT OS is user friendly but does have a few odd quirks, and there need to be more apps available.
We’re very fond of Asus tablets – which we think are right up there with the all-encompassing iPad – and their wonderful features and solid construction always impress. We’ve already seen the detachable keyboard dock on the Transformer Pad Infinity and transformer Prime, and now Asus has brought it to a Windows 8 device in the shape of the Asus Vivo Tab RT, a Windows 8 device with a powerful quad-core processor sitting beneath the hood.
Windows 8 RT
So how does the Windows 8 OS work on a tablet? Well, for a start there are ‘live tiles’, which you use to shortcut to apps. They’re rather like Android widgets, updating information automatically – such as when you receive a new message. You can pin your choice of apps to the Start screen, and change their size according to their importance. It’s also easy to find your favourite web pages and share files,
Microsoft has refined Windows 8 so that it is more suited to touchscreen devices than Windows 7 was. Forget the small menus and other fiddly areas – now menus are bold and large, making them easy to prod. It does of course make the whole thing more simple, which won’t suit everyone. There are a few odd quirks too – we couldn’t set how long the display stays on before timing out, or exactly how much battery charge we had left, for instance.
The other issue we had was the touch-sensitive Windows Start button, which sits under the display, which isn’t as responsive as we’d have liked. We seemed to have to poke at it two or three times to get any action. However, you can also just swipe across the screen to bring up the ‘Charms ‘menu – which takes you to settings and sharing – and you can use the onscreen Start button instead.
There are also a few inconsistencies. On most screens, you go back by hitting the arrow icon that sits in the top-left corner – except in People hub where you have to get another menu to pop up, which you do by flicking a digit from the bottom of the screen. Once you’re used to the gestures, the OS is easy to find our way around, but it doesn’t feel quite as slick as we expected. When it came to some jobs, such as file management, we actually changed to ‘desktop mode’, which is more like your usual Windows setup.
Turn over the device and you’ll see the back is made partly of textured plastic and partly of brushed metal. The texture makes it easier to hold, and makes it more secure if it’s sitting on a desk. The power and volume buttons sit along the edges, along with a covered slot for the MicroSD card and the audio jack port. The MicroSD card slot allows for expansion of the already generous 64GB of onboard storage.
It’s surprising how slim and lightweight the device is – only a little thicker than the iPad mini, and weighing in at half a kilo, it’s far lighter than the new iPad. It flexes a little at the edges if you pull on them, but not enough to really worry about. In general it seems a solid, well-made tablet.
The Vivo Tab RT is one of the most powerful tablets available, rocking a quad-core nVidia Tegra 3 chip coupled with a massive 2GB of RAM. It ran any app we threw at it with ease, whether we were using business software or playing a fast action game. Streaming HD media was a breeze too.
Battery life is impressive too – you’ll get a day out of a full charge in moderate use – that is sending emails and using the odd app – and if you’re streaming video you’ll get about five hours, which is not bad considering the bright display. Hook it up to the dock, which has a built-in battery of its own, and you double the battery life, which makes the Vivo Tab RT ultra portable.
The display has a resolution of 1366x768 and measures 10 inches, making it great for watching films. HD videos were sharp – we could see every detail. This is a vibrant and bright screen – even in harsh lighting we could enjoy our media – and the great viewing angles mean you can share your media with friends with ease.
It also makes for an enjoyable web experience – there’s enough space and clarity to make the most of even the most complex websites, and the touch controls work well, so that you can browse and scroll through all your chosen pages. The responsiveness also means that games and apps work especially well.
In the picture
Asus has seen fit to include an impressive eight-megapixel snapper on the back of the device – it’s never easy to take a picture using a tablet, because of its shape, but at least you are able to actually take the picture simply by tapping on the screen, You’ll need to let the lens focus, which can take a second or so, so you need to keep still.
There’s not much in the way of settings and options – you can change the screen’s resolution, switch to video mode and turn on the timer. But you won’t be able to tweak white balance, ISO levels and so on. Our review model did have a more options menu, although it was empty – so maybe they will appear in an update at a later stage…
A front-facing lens on a 2-megapixel snapper means you can use Skype and any other webchat apps. We found our picture looked quite dark unless we got ourselves into just the right position by a window.
Make me appy
Apps are a big part of any tablet and it’s a shame that there are not enough Windows 8 apps at the moment. Sure, there are some big names, including Skype and NetFlix, but even the BBC News app is unofficially produced by a third party developer. Food and Dining is a category that is disappointingly stocked. There’s not much in the way of games either – there’s a few big name titles, but few are free to download. Anyone who loves their games and playing with new apps might do well to wait until the Windows Store has had a chance to catch up with the Google Play and Apple App stores before investing in a Windows device.
Having said that, the device has a good choice of apps on board, including maps, video, music, calendar and news/reference programs. The inclusion of the Microsoft Office suite will please business users and students, as it includes Excel 2013, Word 2013, OneNote 2013 and PowerPoint 2013 . With the combination of keyboard dock and touchscreen they’re easy to use while commuting, as long as you have a seat! If not, the virtual keyboard works fine too.
There’s plenty of space to store those documents as the Vivo Tab RT comes with 64GB on board. This can also be expanded via the MicroSD slot and the device also comes with 7GB of storage on the cloud with SkyDrive.
Rock around the dock
The tablet slots nicely into the dock and stays connected until you pull a switch situated on the left edge of the table to release it. Close down the tablet over the keyboard when the two are connected and the tablet goes to sleep, just as you would expect a laptop to do. Once the tablet is docked, you get extra battery life, plus the physical keyboard and a full-size USB port.
Once docked, you can type up documents and messages without using the virtual keyboard. If you’re not used to small keys it may take some time to get used to the physical keyboard. The keys may be small but are well spaced and don’t feel squashed – there’s also a dedicated key for Windows. The only issue was the way the keyboard is sunk into the surround, which means there’s a ridge right beneath the space bar, which makes it hard to hit with our thumbs.
There is also a diddy touchpad to move the cursor about on the display, but in fact we preferred to prod at the screen with our digits. Poke and hold gives the same result as right-clicking. It’s a shame that even when the tablet is docked the virtual keyboard still pops up each time you go to write an email or Word document. It’s a small point, but can be rather annoying.
If you travel a lot, the Asus Vivo Tab RT will make sure you are both productive and entertained. The bright HD display ensures watching movies, playing games and surfing the net are all enjoyable, while there’s the Office suite for working, loads of storage space, plus SkyDrive Connectivity. With excellent battery life, amazing power and the keyboard dock, this really is a truly useful and portable device.
|Type of device||Tablet|
|Dimensions||263 x 171 x 8.3 mm|
|Input||QWERTY + Touch Screen|
|CPU||nVidia Tegra 3|
|Screen size||10.1 inches|
|Display type||16 million colours|
|Memory card slot|
|Secondary camera||2 megapixels|
|Special camera features|
|FM Radio description|
|Games||Windows Market Place|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||Charger, Keyboard dock|
|Battery life multimedia||5 hours without dock|
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