Asus has not been resting on its laurels, following up on the frankly rather lovely Asus Zenbook ultrabook and the undeniably ingenious Android-powered Asus Transformer HD the company has announced a brace of Windows tablets in a similar vein at IFA 2012. We went hands-on with the slinky Asus Vivo Tab RT.
The Asus Vivo Tab RT runs the scaled-back Windows 8 ‘RT’ operating system on a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core chip, and boasts a screen size of 10.1 inches.
The cut-down Windows 8 ‘RT’ OS absolutely flew in out hands-on, but of course without the stodge of apps and data it’s hard to tell what the real-world performance will be. However, early signs are good. Swiping through multiple homescreens was blisteringly quick, thanks in part to the simplicity of Windows 8 RT, and booting a couple of demo games was achieved in seconds.
Asus Vivo Tab RT: Build
First impressions of the hardware are very much along the same lines as the Transformer and Transformer HD. The tab weighs in at 520g and measures a svelte 8.3mm, which gives it a pleasant heft in the hand but without distracting bulk.
The new hinge and docking system on the Asus Vivo Tab RT represents one of the biggest obvious developmentalleaps here, with a slick little switch at one end of the tab that triggers the dock/undock functionality, instead of the bolt-throw style slider on older models.
It’s much more precise and sophisticated, although we found it tricky to locate from some angles. It also adds a slight ridge to the back of the tab when docked, which adds a little bulk to the package. More on this when we get a full review sample.
Asus Vivo Tab RT: Screen
The tab screen resolution was excellent, and while not in the new iPad’s retina class, looked to be delivering more than respectable image quality. On the flipside, an 8MP rear camera should deliver decent enough image quality to embarrass many mobile phone cameras.
Asus Vivo Tab RT: Battery
The battery life is an impressive 15 hours according to Asus, assuming the Tab is docked in the keyboard. Another small bugbear with older Asus tabs was the balance point of the docked tab/keyboard, which tended to be slightly top-heavy.
Asus claims they have addressed this with a lower placement of the tab’s battery, and in our hands-on this claim seemed borne out, with the docked assembly displaying a much lower centre of gravity, more like a traditional notebook.
From a notebook perspective, the keyboard will be familiar to ultrabook users, with a limited travel depth, but a positive action. It’s possibly not one for extended intensive typing, but that’s more a personal preference than a deal-breaker. As well as a keyboard and a battery life boost, the lower dock also delivers a standard USB port.
Asus Vivo Tab RT: Verdict
Obviously it’s very early days for Windows 8 apps, with the OS still not officially launched, and Asus is tied to Microsofts’ launch plans with this product.
Asus Vivo Tab RT availability: October 2012
Asus Vivo Tab RT price: TBC