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ASUS VivoTab Smart ME400 Review

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Windows wasn’t really popular on tablets in the pre-Win 8 era but now, with the Windows 8’s touch-centric UI, it’s as if the OS was built primarily to accommodate tablet usage.

The ASUS VivoTab Smart is one of the few Windows 8 tablet-only offerings we have in the market as most Win 8 devices combine the functionality of the tablet and the laptop in one package. It is a low-powered tablet made simply for content consumption and basic computing tasks like you would on a modern netbook.

The VivoTab Smart looks like your typical 10.1-inch tablet with an all-black profile. The side bezels are thick with with the capacitive Windows icon at the bottom acting as your Home button.

 

As for ports, the left side has a microHDMI slot (closed in our review unit), a microSD card slot for storage expansion, and the microUSB port for charging and other USB functions. On top left is the tiny Sleep/Wake/Power button which is not that easy to press due to the curvature of its back. On the right side you’ll get the 3.5mm audio port and the slim volume buttons. Wish there’s a button to lock/unlock the orientation.

There are no proprietary ports on this tablet unlike the iPad and some Androids and that’s a really good thing as you can use your generic microUSB cables.

The back has that soft, smooth, matte finish that you can also find on the lids of ASUS’s current notebook lineups. It’s not glossy but still attracts faint smudges and prints. You’ll also find the 8-megapixel camera f/2.2 lens at the back with the LED flash beside it.

The 10.1-inch display sports an ordinary 1366 x 768 resolution which frankly, doesn’t matter on Windows 8’s big, solid tiled UI. It supports 10-finger multitouch and has an IPS panel for excellent viewing angles which is important for a device you usually hold in your hands.

At 580g, it gets heavy over a short period of time when held in one hand. Just like any tablet of its size, it’s better to hold it across your arm to distribute the weight properly. The weight adds to its solid and sturdy feel though.

Powering the VivoTab Smart ME400 is a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom processor which is already high on netbook’s standard. It also has a 2GB RAM and a 64GB internal storage plus a 3-year 32GB subscription to ASUS’ WebStorage which you probably won’t use since you use Dropbox or rely on an external drive (more on that later).

Here’s the Windows Experience Index by the way.

In reality, performance is actually good for a Windows-powered tablet. Applications such as MS Word and PowerPoint opened reasonably quick.

Tried Pinball FX and was surprised on how vibrant the game looked on the glossy screen. Gameplay was smooth with no frame stuttering and touch actions were quite responsive. You can also install your typical PC games on this system although it won’t necessarily translate to touch controls so you still have to use your mouse/keyboard.

Speaking of mouse/keyboard, I was able to successfully use my Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse simply by plugging my Unifying nano-receiver onto its microUSB port via a USB OTG cable. No further driver installs were needed, it simply works.

It’s nice that they have a “keyboard” button on the system tray which you can use to call the onscreen keyboard on Desktop mode at will. There’s also an option in the onscreen keyboard that allows you to change the mode for thumb typing and even into handwriting recognition via stylus.

USB OTG cable is a must-have accessory for this tablet since it doesn’t have a full-sized USB port. I used it to connect my external hard drive (or flash drives) so I can copy or watch movies off it. Too bad I wasn’t able to try connecting a USB hub on but I’m inclined to think that it will also work.

As a full-blown Windows system, I was also able to access my local network drives via Windows Explorer so catching on to your TV series while taking a dump is easy. Although you can also do this with Android tablets, this just works right off the bat with no additional apps required.

Wasn’t able to test the f/2.2 8-megapixel camera since I don’t think tablets, especially 10-inchers, should be used as cameras. Based from the sample shots I found on its gallery, quality is just so-so. You can record 1080p Full HD videos with it though and the 2-megapixel front camera works really nice for video chatting with your favorite IM app.

The VivoTab Smart is equipped with a 25Wh Li-polymer battery that is rated at 8 hours. I was only getting about 5.5 to 6 hours on it which is not that high for an Atom-powered device but if I’m to guess, it has something to do with the touch screen.

Conclusion

For a tablet, the ASUS VivoTab Smart is a wise-choice for those who don’t want to deal with different platforms. It just works with other PC devices and your Windows apps. The Tile mode for casual use and Desktop mode for serious computing gives the user flexibility on a single device.

This VivoTab Smart ME400 will be available first week of February for Php25,995 which is roughly around the price range of the big iPad but with a more spacious 64GB storage. No accessories are included but you can get the multi-purpose Transleeve Cover for Php2,000 more.

Asus VivoTab Smart ME400 Specs:
10.1-inch IPS multi-touch display, 1366 x 768 resolution
Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core 1.8GHz
PowerVR SGX 545 GPU (533MHz)
2GB RAM
64GB internal storage, +32GB Asus WebStorage for 3 years
8 megapixel f2.2 lens rear camera with flash
1080p video recording
2 megapixel front camera with LED indicator
802.11 b/g/n WiFi
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS
G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass, NFC
25Wh Li-polymer battery, 8 hours
265.5 x 171 x 9.7mm
580g
SRP: Php25,995, Feb 2013



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