[sc:hardware-category ]I’ve been using the Surface RT for a while now and the overall experience of RT is good, but there are some limits that just don’t make it a very good choice for my primary tablet.
On the other hand a whole host of new tablet’s have been hitting the market which features Windows 8. I had been holding out for the Surface Pro but I’ve realized the 11.6 inch display is just too big to be primarily a tablet. A friend picked up an HP ENVY x2 which features an Atom processor. The last Atom based netbook I had was underpowered to say the least. However the current generation of Atom processors seem much better so I decided to take the plunge and pick up the ASUS VivoTab Smart, a 10.1 inch Atom based tablet.
The hardware is pretty nice, not nearly as well made as the Surface, but pretty solid for a plastic based housing. Two camera’s, an SD card slot, MicroHDMI and MicroUSB are all in attendance and welcome. The unit comes with 64g of built in storage and some pre-installed bloatware, but nothing to bad. 2g of ram is good for most tasks. Windows 8 is there as well of course, but not the Pro version.
One of the weak points of the Atom processors have always been multi-tasking and that continues to even the current generation. Working on multiple things at the same time brings noticeable lag to the unit, but still continues to function.
A nice feature of having a full copy of Windows is being able to upgrade to pro and then RDP in to the tablet. Working from my desktop to install all the apps I’ll be using is much nicer than working on the small screen of the tablet even if I had hooked up a keyboard.
After a couple of hours of using there are a few issues with this first generation device:
- There is a small edge all the way around the device which is uncomfortable to say the least if you are holding it pressed between your hands.
- The auto dim/brightness feature is a little sporadic, ASUS has released two driver updates since I received the unit and it’s a little better but is still too sensitive.
- The device goes to sleep after a few minutes of being “off”, which does conserve battery but it apparently ignores the settings in Windows so you cannot avoid it. This means it takes a few seconds to wake up when you go to use it again.
- When opening a full screen app, the screen will go black for a second some times, looks like a video driver issue.
- Even the 10.1 inch display is slightly too large with the 16:9 aspect ratio. Perhaps a 9″ tablet would be better…
Overall it’s a good start, but it needs some time to mature.
I certainly think that an Atom based tablet with the build quality of the Surface would completely destroy Windows RT, there’s no reason to have RT with this kind of solution available.