Asus VivoTab Note 8 review
An affordable, stylus-equipped compact Windows tablet that falls just short of greatness
Asus’ newest arrival, the VivoTab Note 8, is as potent as compact tablets come. It squeezes Windows 8.1, an Intel Bay Trail Atom CPU and a stylus into an 8in tablet. The even bigger news is the price: for a smidgen more than £300, this compact contender follows in the footsteps of its larger stablemate, the Transformer Book T100, and throws in a free copy of Microsoft Office as well. See also the 11 best tablets of 2014
You’d be hard-pressed to recognise the Note 8’s talents right away, though. The matte plastics are noticeably cheaper-feeling than Asus’ Google-branded Android tablet – the lithe, rock-solid Nexus 7. It’s inoffensively styled, and reasonably light at 380g, but this isn’t a tablet to lust after. If it weren’t for the Windows 8 sticker on the rear, it would be easy to mistake the Note 8 for a dull, budget Android tablet.
Putting pen to pixel
Until, that is, you start looking at the Note 8’s rather impressive feature list. In contrast to other 8in Windows tablets, Asus has partnered the Note 8’s touchscreen with a Wacom digitiser and passive stylus. The digitiser delivers more than 1,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and, handily enough, the small plastic stylus stows away in the tablet’s lower edge.
In many ways, the stylus is a perfect addition to a compact Windows 8 tablet. It makes it possible to scribble handwritten notes into apps such as the bundled Microsoft OneNote, sketch and paint in art applications, and edit photos more accurately. Admittedly, there’s little need for the stylus during casual use – taps and swipes of the finger are accurate enough for flicking through Metro apps or exploring the internet – but where desktop applications and taskbar icons are often fiddly to control with a finger, the stylus provides pinpoint cursor control where it’s most needed.
Unlike the pixel-packed HD and Retina screens of the latest Android and iOS compact tablets, the Note 8 has a humble 1,280 x 800 display. This isn’t a bad thing, however. In usability terms, the lower resolution means onscreen dialog boxes and menus present a larger target for finger taps and stylus prods. Quality is above par, too: the IPS panel ensures colours are bright and bold; the LED backlight reaches an ample, if not class-leading, 307cd/m[sup]2[/sup]; and the contrast ratio of 1,094:1 is enough to make sure images have plenty of get up and go.
|Warranty||2 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||221 x 134 x 11mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Atom Z3740|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||0|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||800|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,280|
|Resolution||800 x 1280|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk||Hynix HGB4e|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||11hr 29min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.35|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8.1 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|