Asus VivoTab RT review

Asus VivoTab RT review


4 star rating

Price: $899 including base  |  Web:  |  Critical specs: 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, 10.1-inch touchscreen at 1,366 x 768 pixels, 1.08kg.

Taiwanese laptop and motherboard maker ASUS gets kudos for being the first to market with a Windows RT tablet, giving us our first look at the differences between Microsoft’s new tablet-specific OS and its larger Windows 8 cousin.

On the surface, Windows 8 and Windows RT look almost identical. In fact, unless you know the device, there’s initially very little to give away which version of Windows you’re using. And that’s exactly the way Microsoft wants it.

One surprise was the VivoTab RT’s speed – under the bonnet, it’s running Nvidia’s 1.3GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, the same chip Toshiba uses in its AT270 Android 4.0.3 tablet. We benchmarked the two using SunSpider 0.91 (a web-based JavaScript test) and found the ASUS to be nearly twice as fast, completing the test in 978 ms vs Toshiba’s 1,935 ms.

The VivoTab RT also performed well on battery life, lasting 10 hours and 43 minutes on our continuous video playback loop, and that was just on the tablet battery itself. Thanks to the iPad, 10 hours is now the accepted benchmark for any serious tablet competitor. However, the tablet has a second battery in its keyboard base, said to be good for another four to five hours. This breaks new ground for battery life.

We think there are still a few flaws here, though: one specifically with the VivoTab RT and another with Windows RT.

The VivoTab RT has two battery charging options: you can disconnect the tablet from the base and just charge the tablet on its own by plugging the USB cable into any USB power source. You can also charge the tablet and the base battery together via the base connector port, but here, you must use the supplied USB charger. Use anything else and while the tablet will take power from the charger, neither will charge. We tested this using the iPad’s 5V/2.1A charger (the same rating as the ASUS) and while it would charge the tablet on its own, it wouldn’t charge through the base unit connection. We think it’s a design flaw – you’d expect a USB charger cable to charge from any rated USB power source, not just one specific charger.

The other issue is trying to find out the remaining battery life. The Modern UI of Windows has no clear battery charging indicator, other than a small icon that appears when you select the Charms Bar (Window key+C). The problem is that the icon gives a minimum of information and it can’t show the status of two batteries. Instead, you’re forced to go to the Windows RT desktop and hover over the little battery icon in the system tray. That’s fine on a laptop, but on a tablet it’s poor design – the iPad does better. Microsoft needs a battery Live Tile for the Modern UI quick smart.

Still, Windows RT has potential on the tablet and it’s where the new interface makes most sense. The lack of a clear notification/status bar like Android, however, makes it unnecessarily more difficult to know what the OS is doing.