Long-lasting battery; Impressive camera app; Very aggressive price; Twice the storage of competing Windows 8 tablets
Plastic design; Desktop apps can be slow to open; Lacks full-size USB port; Keyboard and cover not lap friendly
ASUS' Windows 8-powered VivoTab Smart is a solid Windows 8 tablet at an affordable price.
With the VivoTab Smart, ASUS has created a bona fide Windows 8 tablet that's just as affordable as the iPad and premium Android tablets. For $499, this device includes an Intel Atom processor and a generous 64GB of memory in a design that's lighter than Apple's tablet. ASUS also offers an optional Bluetooth keyboard and cover that doubles as a stand, so you can use the VivoTab Smart as a mini-laptop. Sort of.
DesignMicrosoft Surface RT and iPad. We're glad that the white rear panel resists fingerprints.
The VivoTab Smart's 10.1-inch display is surrounded by a glossy black bezel, at the top of which sits a 2-megapixel camera. To the left of that is a subtle gray ASUS logo. The back is home to an 8-megapixel camera and LED flash, below which sits a silver ASUS logo.
At 10.7 x 6.9 x 0.5 inches, the VivoTab Smart is a hair thicker than the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and Dell Latitude 10, which measure 10.3 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches and 10.8 x 7.0 x 0.4 inches, respectively. All three tablets weigh the same 1.2 pounds. Microsoft's Surface RT, while thinner than the VivoTab Smart (10.8 x 6.8 x 0.4 inches) weighs slightly more at 1.5 pounds.
Display and Audio
At 292 lux, the VivoTab Smart's display is brighter than the Acer Iconia W510's 262 lux rating but dimmer than the category average of 367 lux. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (389 lux) and Dell Latitude 10 (473 lux) are both brighter, but they're also more expensive..
Stereo speakers--both on the left side of VivoTab Smart's rear panel--produced clean audio that was just loud enough to fill a small conference room. The Alabama Shakes' "You Ain't Alone," came through clearly, but lacked bass.
The small clickpad beneath the TranSleeve's keyboard made navigating the Windows 8 desktop environment far easier than relying on the VivoTab's touch screen alone. The clickpad supports most Windows 8 gestures, including swiping in from the right to access the Charms menu, swiping in front the left to switch between apps and swiping down to access in-app options. However, the pad doesn't support gestures for docking apps.
While Windows 8 gestures worked well, executing multitouch gestures such as two-finger swipe and scroll were unreliable.
After streaming a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes, the VivoTab Smart's back panel reached just 86 degrees Fahrenheit. We consider temperatures of 95 degrees and above to be uncomfortable. That's just below the tablet category average of 87 degrees, but higher than the ThinkPad Tablet 2's 80-degree back panel temperature. The Acer Iconia W510 and HP Envy x2 recorded temperatures of 77 degrees and 76 degrees, respectively.
What's missing? A full-size USB port, something Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet 2, Dell's Latitude 10 and Microsoft's Surface RT offer. That means you can forget about plugging in a USB drive.
The slate's two-megapixel front-facing camera offered images clear enough to see wrinkles on our foreheads and around our eyes. Color reproduction was just as accurate as the front-facing camera.
In addition to the standard Windows 8 camera app, the VivoTab Smart includes ASUS' own ASUS Camera app, which offers settings such as filter effects, white balance adjustments and the ability to turn off the flash. The camera also includes a panorama feature, which worked extremely well.
On the PCMark 7 benchmark, which tests a machine's overall performance, the VivoTab Smart registered a score of 1,399. That's below the tablet category average of 2,973, but well within the range of other Intel Atom-powered tablets we've tested, including the Acer Iconia W510 (1,305), Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (1,428) and Dell Latitude 10 (1,440). As expected, Microsoft's $999 Surface Pro, with its Intel Core i5 processor, scored a much higher 2,739.
The VivoTab Smart's 64GB of eMMC flash storage booted in just 19 seconds, faster than the tablet average of 28 seconds and the similarly equipped Acer Iconia W510, which started in 20 seconds. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and Dell Latitude 10, meanwhile, took 16 seconds to start, while the HP Envy x2 came to in 14 seconds.
It took the ASUS VivoTab Smart's 64GB of eMMC flash drive a middling 4 minutes and 48 seconds to finish the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, which involves copying 4.97GB of mixed media files. That's a rate of 17.7 MBps, which is well below the category average of 53.8 MBps. The Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet 2 registered 21 MBps, while the Dell Latitude 10 and HP Envy x2 notched 22 MBps. Once again, Microsoft's Surface Pro outpaced the competition, thanks to its SSD, completing the test at a rate of 124 MBps.
Our VivoTab Smart took 30 minutes and 18 seconds to match 20,000 names with their addresses in OpenOffice. That's a little faster than the Lenovo ThinkPad 2's time of 30 minutes and 33 seconds, but slower than the Acer Iconia W510 (29:56), Dell Latitude 10 (29:48) and HP Envy x2 (29:45).
With its Intel Graphics Media Accelerator chip, the ASUS VivoTab Smart can handle low-intensity games such as "Judge Dredd vs. Zombies" and "Jetpack Joyride," but don't expect to play anything more than that. In fact, the GPU couldn't even run the 3DMark11 graphics test, as it doesn't support DirectX 11.
We ran into one issue during our testing. The capacitive home button beneath the display didn't respond to our taps at times, requiring a more forceful push than we'd like. However, ASUS says that it has tested dozens of units in its labs and has not encountered the same problem.
Out of the box, the 64GB version of the VivoTab Smart has 34.2GB of available space.
ASUS also offers a Windows RT version of the VivoTab called the VivoTab RT. That 10.1-inch tablet features a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and quad-speakers. An optional keyboard dock is also available for the VivoTab RT and adds nearly 5 hours of battery life.
On the other hand, ASUS did cut some corners to achieve such an aggressive price. The design is plasticky, and you won't find a full-size USB port. And while the optional $129 TranSleeve Keyboard can come in handy, it's not as convenient as a dock that feels more secure in your lap. You can pick up the 32GB W510 with a clamshell keyboard dock (with its own extended battery) for $549.
It's definitely not a laptop replacement, but the ASUS VivoTab Smart is a pretty good choice for Windows 8 tablet shoppers on a budget.
|CPU||1.8-GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 processor|
|Storage Drive Size||64GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Graphics Chip||Intel Graphics Media Accelerator|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||2.0MP|
|Card Reader Size||64GB|
|Warranty / Support||1-year Parts and Labor, 24/7 Tech Support, 30-day Zero Bright Dot Panel Warranty|
|Size||10.7 x 6.9 x 0.5 inches|