A long lasting multi-talented tablet.
When I first spotted the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer tablet in our offices many moons ago, I was very impressed with it. Here was an Android tablet that was not only responsive and built well, but it also came with an optional keyboard dock to turn the tablet into a kind of versatile netbook. Since then, very few manufacturers have been able to replicate this kind of tablet-cum-keyboard-dock formula successfully, and so ASUS have taken it upon themselves to show us all how it’s done, this time with the ASUS VivoTab running Windows 8.
Build quality & design
The VivoTab is a smart move by ASUS, owing to the number of other manufacturers who are already scrambling to get their Windows 8-powered laptops and tablets onto the market. But the VivoTab aims to celebrate the best of both worlds by once again including a keyboard dock that turns the tablet into a full-functional netbook.
As with other ASUS products that we’ve seen, the VivoTab sports ASUS’ signature build quality and design, opting for smooth curves on the tablet and sleek finishing. Though the device is encased in plastic and brushed aluminum, it doesn’t deter from the overall look and feel of the device. The VivoTab features a power button, headphone jack, volume rocker, microSD slot, mini-HDMI port, and a charging port at the bottom (there’s no card reader port). You also get a dongle that lets you convert the charging port into a USB port in case you don’t have the keyboard dock handy. Lastly, there’s also a digitizer stylus included in the box, but I’ll elaborate more on that later.
The keyboard dock is also solidly built, snapping onto the tablet to form a traditional clamshell design. It adds two USB ports to the device but also lets you use the VivoTab for longer since the keyboard dock has its own battery built in. Combine the two together and you’re looking at battery life of at least 12 or 13 hours. My only complaint about the keyboard dock is that when it’s attached, there’s no comfortable way to open the VivoTab. There’s no bump or slight lip that you can latch on to, so you basically have to pry the device open with two hands.
You won’t find anything spectacular with the specifications on the VivoTab, but even so the overall user experience was never lagging at any point. No matter how many apps I launched in the background, the VivoTab was able to bear the brunt of my abuse.
Benchmarks and Performance
The VivoTab did fairly well in our benchmarks, given that it isn’t really kitted out to be running very processor-intensive applications. Even when I loaded up Photoshop onto the VivoTab it was able to keep up with most of my editing, though as I added more filters and layers to my file, it began to put a strain on the device.
As either a tablet or netbook, the VivoTab performed very well and can easily be adapted to whatever situation you’re in. Note taking during a meeting? Grab the stylus and draw directly on screen. Typing up a last-minute report in a taxi to work? Dock the VivoTab and let your fingers fly across the keyboard with ease.
UI and Apps
Apart from the usual barrage of Windows 8 apps, ASUS have installed a few of their own custom apps. There’s ASUS Webstorage, which lets you sign up to a cloud-based storage solution to backup and retrieve your files. There’s a handy Guide app that shows you various video tutorials of how to use the VivoTab, and a SuperNote application to take down notes. There’s also a ‘Fun Center’ app that doubles as some kind of music preview service, but I gave up trying to figure out what it was for. The VivoTab also rather handily comes with NFC, so sharing web pages and other content is as simple as tapping your device to the back of the screen.