We are no strangers to the world of tablets in the Whittle household. Not of the pharmaceutical variety (I’m not THAT bad a parent) but of the technical bent. This month, the nice people at Currys sent us an Asus VivoTab Smart tablet to review, and see what we could do with.
The VivoTab is a Windows-based 10.1 inch tablet – this means it runs Office and all its associated apps, just like a PC laptop (and unlike an iPad or a Kindle). It also neatly avoids the issues that have plagued Windows RT, Microsoft’s operating system designed purely for tablets. This is full Windows 8.
The tablet costs a smidge under £400, and if you want one of those nifty snap-on, snap-off keyboards they’re not included as standard, but you can buy a magnetic-attached keyboard for around £90.
So is it worth it?
Well, on the technical side, the specs of the tablet seem reasonable. The tablet is small and relatively light, and the curved edges make it simple enough to hold.
There’s a micro SD slot, so you can add up to 32GB additional memory on top of the 64GB provided, and the device works on a standard micro USB charger, which not all tablets do.
It’s a bit too big to pop into a handbag, but a nice size for working at home, or for catching up on email while you’re on a train, I’d say. It slots into the glove box of my car, which makes it handy for when I’m travelling, or waiting outside school.
There’s also a microHDMI video output slot, so you can connect the tablet to a larger screen – I really like this feature. The screen is reasonable, although not as crisp as the newer iPads with Retina display, and I like that it has a wide viewing angle, so you can share the screen without one person seeing a distorted view of the picture.
Ultimately, I think the VivoTab wouldn’t be my first choice for an entertainment device – I find the slightly smaller size and better display of the iPad a better option for watching TV programmes, for example – but where it does shine is as a sort of smaller, more convenient laptop.
I thought when i bought an iPad I’d use it for work but GOD it’s a pain trying to do anything other than the basics. With the VivoTab smart, having access to full Windows means you can suddenly do anything you can do on a laptop – without the back-breaking weight (it can’t be just me who finds that my laptop magically triples in weight the moment I step inside an airport). I’d definitely want the keyboard though – the touchscreen keyboard is fiddly, and I think it would offer a degree of protection to the screen, too.
You have access to most of the usual apps and games on the VivoTab, although obviously as this is Windows you’ll miss out on some of the more well-known games and, of course, Instagram. But it’s not anything like the desert I thought it would be – most of the games Flea plays on other devices are available to Windows users. We managed to film an almost decent movie (see below) and edit it on the VivoTab, which was fun – try taking your laptop to the beach for a spot of impromptu movie making! We did finish off on my regular Mac, but you don’t necessarily need to do this.
For me, the biggest question I had about this device is – Is Windows 8 as head-slappingly, swear-inducingly annoying on a touch screen as it is on a laptop?
I have a PC laptop that I use for Photoshop, and anyone who’s ever used Windows 8 will know that is has THE most infuriating habit of magically opening windows, switching windows, not closing windows and generally hiding obscure and little-needed functions like, ooh, the “restart” button or the “my files” list.
The good news is that with touch, things are a lot better. We didn’t get anywhere near as many random closing of windows because we’d accidentally ventured to close to a corner. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better.
Flea and I have put together a short three minute video demonstrating the tablet and showing you what we got up to with it. It’s a masterpiece. *cough*
Details: We were provided with an Asus VivoTab Smart for the purposes of this review by Currys, where you can currently buy this device for £379.99. All prices and details correct at the time of publication.