updated 06:54 am EDT, Mon April 8, 2013
The Asus VivoTab Smart brings into question the rationale for WinRT
Say what you will about Windows 8, but it has succeeded in yielding the most interesting crop of PC hardware that we have yet to see on the market. The Asus VivoTab Smart is a shining example of an innovative design that has been directly spawned to take advantage of the dual user interface in Windows 8. It is also one of the best value full Windows 8 tablet propositions out there, powered by a dual-core Intel Atom (Z2760) clocked at 1.8Ghz and all for as little as $450.
In fact, it is priced so sharply that the Asus VivoTab Smart deserves to be singled out of the Windows 8 hybrid pack for further examination. When you look at its price, the next question you ask is what Asus cut from the spec sheet to get there? The answer? Very little. The Asus VivoTab Smart is such outstanding value that it brings into sharp focus the value proposition of Microsoft's Surface with Windows RT, or indeed any device running Windows RT.
For less than the cost of the Surface RT with 32GB, Asus has created a tablet that is thin (9.7mm) and light (580g) with 64GB of storage (33GB available to the user), plus support for a microSD card. It also uses a 10.1-inch display with a 1366x768 resolution, but it also incorporates IPS technology for rich colors and wide viewing angles. Battery life is rated at up to 9.5 hours while it also incorporates NFC for quick file swapping. Asus hasn't even cut corners with the main camera, incorporating an 8-megapixel five-element lens camera into the rear with a large F2.2 aperture and back side illuminated CMOS sensor. It also runs full Windows 8, permitting legacy applications to be installed, including iTunes, for example.
Adding the interesting Asus Transleeve Keyboard to the equation for around another $100 gives users the power of a full Windows 8 notebook when on the go. Unless Microsoft drops the price of the Surface RT, there is little that would justify purchasing that device over the Asus VivoTab Smart in our view. Sure, the Surface RT includes Word, PowerPoint and Excel for free, but you can't install any other productivity applications on the desktop UI. The Asus Transleeve Keyboard, while not attaching directly to the VivoTab Smart, is still a clever solution and combines to make for powerful productivity on the go in a very light and compact package.
Anandtech has found that the Intel Atom running in the Asus VivoTab Smart (and other similar devices) is actually more power efficient than that the ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 3 running in the Surface RT. In large part, this comes down to the combination of Intel finally getting its lower power architecture sorted out in the Clover Trail Atom design, but also due its fabrication on Intel's 32nm process. The Nvidia Tegra 3 is fabricated on TSMC's 40nm process. The Nvidia chip does have an edge for graphics performance, however.
Electronista will be putting the Asus VivoTab Smart through a full review this weekend. Be sure to check back then to read our thoughts on the VivoTab Smart, but also what we think its implications are for Windows RT in general.