The Asus VivoTab RT is a 10.1in laptop/tablet hybrid PC that runs on Microsoft's new Windows RT operating system.
It's essentially a Windows version of the Google Android-based Asus Transformer range; complete with the same connectivity options and keyboard dock. In other words, Microsoft users finally have a Transformer device to call their own (even if it goes by a completely different name).
The Vivo Tab RT: a Transformer by any other name.
With an RRP of $749, the Asus Vivo Tab RT might seem like a bargain to someone that requires a new laptop and tablet. However, the limitations of Windows RT combined with a scarcity of apps have slightly diminished its appeal; especially as a laptop device.
That said, if you're looking for a Windows-based hybrid tablet with a long-lasting battery life, you could certainly do worse than this product.
Under the hood
The Asus Vivo Tab RT is powered by a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor with a clock speed of 1.6GHz. It can handle everything from office applications to 3D gaming, which makes this a good device for work and/or play. The chip also comes with a nominal 'fifth' core for low-intensity applications.
Other noteworthy specifications include 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 32GB of internal storage, an 8MP rear-facing camera and a pair of impressively loud SonicMaster stereo speakers.
The Vivo Tab RT boasts decent specs for a tablet.
For connectivity, the Asus Vivo Tab RT sticks to the basics: the tablet comes with an SD card reader, a 2-in-1 audio jack and a micro HDMI input.
The keyboard dock, meanwhile, sports a solitary USB 2.0 port and a proprietry connector for charging the device. (A USB adaptor is also included in the sales package which connects to both the keyboard dock and the tablet's rear.)
Wireless connectivity is provided via 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1. Asus ships a 4G version internationally, but only the WiFi version is currently available in Australia.
When it comes to product design, Asus is clearly a proponent of the adage; 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' The Vivo Tab RT looks very similar to the Transformer Pad Infinity, which itself was barely distinguishable from the earlier Transformer Prime.
Indeed, if it wasn't for the tiny Windows logo adorning the tablet, we'd be hard pressed telling it apart from its Android brethren – especially when attached to the samey keyboard dock.
Thankfully, the Transformer Pad Infinity is one of the more stylish hybrids on the market, so the similar design isn't an issue (unless you desire something fresher looking, that is).
The Vivo Tab measures 8mm at its thickest point.
The tablet and keyboard dock are both finished in dark brushed aluminium which lend the device a sophisticated air. With dimensions of 263×171×8mm and weighing in at 525g, it's also one of the lightest and thinnest 10.1in tablets on the market.
The Asus Vivo Tab RT comes with a 10.1in Super IPS+ touch screen with a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels. This is the same resolution as the Microsoft Surface RT tablet, but lower than competing tablets like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime and Apple's new iPad.
The Asus Vivo Tab RT is sharp and vibrant.
While it might not be able to match a fancy retina display, the images it produced looked crisp and vibrant regardless. It will suit the majority of day-to-day tasks; from word processing to movie viewing.
It also has excellent viewing angles, which is handy in shared viewing situations, such as business demonstrations to clients.
In tablet mode, we were satisfied with the way the Vivo Tab handled. The touch screen was very responsive during testing and the physical buttons (comprising power and volume) are within easy reach of the hands.
On the downside, we found the UI to be a bit sluggish when it came to selecting and loading apps: the Windows RT operating system simply isn't as zippy as Android or iOS.
Personally, we don't think it's severe enough to be a deal-breaker, but prospective buyers would be wise to try before they buy.
The Windows Store currently lacks some popular third-party apps.
While we're on the subject of apps, special mention must go to the Windows Store, which is currently limited by what it offers.
If you're migrating from an Android or iPad tablet, it's likely that some of your favourite third-party apps will no longer be available to you; including popular business-friendly apps like Dropbox and Pocket/Read It Later.
With any luck, this situation will begin to change as support for the fledgling operating system grows. (The inclusion of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT also helps to salve the wound.)
The Vivo Tab's keys are small, tactile and responsive.
Like most hybrid devices, the Asus Vivo Tab RT works better as a tablet than a laptop. While the keyboard is very responsive, it's simply too small to offer a seamless typing experience. Users with large fingers will need plenty of practice to master the miniaturised keys.
On the plus side, the keyboard is sturdily constructed and comes with its own inbuilt battery. This extends the tablet's battery life from nine hours to an astonishing 16.
With the popular Transformer series under its belt, Asus is arguably the king of the hybrid tablet. The Asus Vivo Tab RT has caused its crown to slip a little, but it still remains a reasonable hybrid for the asking price, provided you can get to grips with the Windows RT OS.
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Issue: 334 | December 2014
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