Despite all the Microsoft Surface hype, Windows 8 tablets have yet to find their niche. Its difficult, after all, to be more expensive than Apples ever-cool iPad, yet less usable than a reasonably cheap laptop.
So what can the Asus VivoTab Smarta slim little 10.1-inch tablet with a Clover Trail processorbring to the table? Well, for one thing, its relatively cheap: the VivoTab starts at just $499, and that includes 64GB of built-in storage. It also runs the full version of Windows 8, so you dont have to settle for Windows RT.
Good tablet performance and battery life
Just because it runs a desktop OS doesn't mean it runs like a PC, of course. Compare it to a low-powered Ultrabook, and it's toast. Its moderately powerful for a tablet, however, scoring higher than similarly appointed models with Intel Pentium 6 CPUs and 2GB of memory, such as the Samsung XE500T1C-A01 and the Acer Iconia W510-1422. Battery life is good and long, at 7 hours and 36 minutes in our tests.
Of course, the $499 price tag doesnt include the VivoTabs accessories: a Smart Cover-esque magnetic screen protector that folds into a stand, and a separate, Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad. The screen protector/keyboard combo costs an additional $130, which means its about $629 for the full VivoTab Smart experience. This is still a fairly good dealthe Dell XPS 10 tablet with keyboard bundle also costs $629, but it has half the built-in storage.
Pretty, thin design
The VivoTab itself is pretty enough: it has a solid polycarbonate back in white, black, or red, a 10.1-inch glossy screen surrounded by a medium bezel, and a maximum thickness of about 0.38 inches. It weighs a mere 1.28 pounds (580 grams), and the accessories add hardly any additional weight or thickness.
The IPS screen offers up decent coloration (whites look a tad yellowish at lower brightness settings) and good touchscreen responsiveness and accuracy. It also has excellent off-axis viewing angles, though the screen isnt quite as bright as I usually like. Its 350 nits, which isnt quite good enough for outdoor viewing. By comparison, the latest iPads screen is about 400 nits.
Ports and slots are pretty limitedit is a tablet, after all. There are no buttons aside from the power button, volume rocker, and touch-sensitive Windows button on the front bezel. Theres also a MicroSD slot, MicroUSB port, and a micro HDMI slot, as well as a 2-in-1 audio jack. As far as connectivity goes, the VivoTab is actually better equipped than expected, with built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and an NFC chip.
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