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Asus VivoTab Note 8 review

Verdict

An affordable, stylus-equipped compact Windows tablet that falls just short of greatness

Review Date: 6 Feb 2014

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £253 (£304 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

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

Asus VivoTab Note 8

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.

Asus VivoTab Note 8

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/m2; and the contrast ratio of 1,094:1 is enough to make sure images have plenty of get up and go.

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User comments

Harsh?

I think the price point has to be taken into account here and the flexibility, for which you have a tablet with stylus capable of running both Metro apps quivalent to an iPad plus full fat Windows apps if necessary. I have a similar format Toshiba Encore and am delighteed with the functionality and price point. Again it seems the reviewer wants full fat laptop fucntionality which frankly an 8" tablet is not intended to be. If Apple launched this functionality (equivalent of iOS and OS X on one device) at this price point the stars would be off the scale!

By AndyPC on 7 Feb 2014

They seem like the new netbooks. Slightly crippled by design to not bite into sales of more profitable products.

By JamesD29 on 7 Feb 2014

Well as regards, netbooks the best of the bunch were and still are good mini laptops, so not that crippled really. But back to this Win 8.1 tablet, I don't think the laptops that can be bought in the £300-400 range are that profitable, and I don't see a tablet like this competing with a high end £800+ laptops (or £1200+ if you decide to buy a Mac ;-). So I don't see them biting into more profitable sales.

But back to the Vivotab, I like the look of Win 8.1 tablets like this. A stylus, expansion via MicroSD card and a free copy of Office are tempting in themselves. As the reviewer says, an HDMI port would make it even more tempting, and how about expandable RAM, that would be great!

By rjp2000 on 7 Feb 2014

A game changer - and a tragedy!

RIP Windows RT! It is a real tragedy now that we will never see a Windows port for ARM chips as "wintel" reasserts itself.

Microsoft needs to re-think the Windows interface now. Obviously the future for desktops is to have devices like this in place of a mouse/touchpad with content on a full sized, non-touch screen and "tear-off" control ribbons which you can move to a small handheld bluetooth ancillary screen/touchpad.

By JohnAHind on 8 Feb 2014

Available remaining storage space?

It would be extremely useful if the reviewer could indicate the remaining available drive space on the 32Gb drive once Windows 8.1 is installed. Perhaps this information can be included in future tablet reviews in the Specs list? As a prospective purchaser of an 8 inch Windows 8.1 tablet - this is a critical piece of information that will influence my buying decision of whether to go for a 32Gb or 64Gb model/tablet - regardless of the additional storage card (at additional cost!) option.

As a continuing user of a 2 Gb RAM equipped five year old Samsung netbook, (now running Windows 8.1), I find the reviewer's comment that the 2 Gb RAM size is the tablet’s "biggest limitation" indicative that the reviewer may not be a netbook veteran. I have found my 2Gb RAM netbook to be fine for my needs, as I'm well aware of what its capable of so don't overload it by running too many programs at once. Clearly, I don't expect my netbook to act as a laptop replacement - and I wouldn't expect an 8 inch tablet that's specified or priced like the netbooks of old to do that job either. What I *am* looking for is a suitable 8 inch tablet to replace my ageing netbook with something that's smaller and lighter - for which (I suspect) 2 Gb RAM will do just fine at that kind of price. And running Windows programs is absolutely essential. :-)

By TheCaptain on 8 Feb 2014

You can get Miracast-HDMI adapters for £30, so if TV connectivity is that important to you it's not impossible. You just have to get out of the mindset that you have to connect to a TV by wires...

By Big_Hal on 8 Feb 2014

A good windows alternative device to one running android or iOS

Asus must be applauded for reading review sites like this one and trying to deliver what consumers want.

They produced the T100 last year which is a Windows 8 netbook revelation, because consumers looked at their own android device and on review sites like this and read if only it had Windows at the same weight.

They delivered a tablet (in the T100) which has nearly the weight of an android device and the battery life of an Apple device. A useable keyboard with a USB3 port. Full windows and office, granted a number of compromises such as a noisy touchpad left and right mouse click, a keyboard that slightly rocks when on a table and you can't charge a dead battery and use at the same time. But look at the price and what it delivers.

They then read reviews of Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 who ask why not a digitiser. They read the Toshiba windows tablet review and grumbles over poor battery life and if only it had a pen. Dell gets slated because their device has a pen but no where for it, and the screen isn't a digitiser.

And what does the reviewer comment on this device, why no additional keyboard, only 2GB couldn't you give it at least 4! Why can't I charge the device AND access my USB devices, what no micro HDMI port?!!

If they did that the device would cost too much, weigh too much, this product provides another viable Windows alternative to those who don't like android, don't like iOS or windows RT, but see a device on a different OS that fits their needs.

Asus may listen and tweak and produce a pro device put it would also loose the charm of the device they have produced at a price that's tempting.

In 2 years time they may well be able to produce a device that provides 4-8GB of RAM, 64-128 GB of storage with a clip on keyboard and a digitiser screen in both an 8 and 10 inch screen options. The 10 inch with full HD display. The power and graphics grunt of a Microsoft surface tablet, and can charge of a USB plug socket. Keep the current weight and cost no more than £400.

Until then we have the next best thing.

Please note I use iOS, android, windows 7, 8.1 and windows phone devices that ASUS don't manufacture. I prefer windows 7 to windows 8 but do like the touch aspect windows 8 provides and the fast boot up times.

By S_J_Bennion on 8 Feb 2014

Memory available.

Having got the T100 after a proper antivirus/ firewall solution and 2GB's worth of programs and apps installed you'll have about 10GB with a 32gB device. 3 years down the line with updates this may pose an issue.

Store your data on the micro SD card and you should be fine with what remains.

If you need to manage storage from 1 device to another such as backing up your photos then 64GB would give you that additionally flexibility.

By S_J_Bennion on 8 Feb 2014

The microSD accommodates 128Gb, 192Gb combined for the 64Gb version is unmatched so far. One review I've seen doesn't compare the screen kindly to Dell's Venue 8, but I've been getting on okay with Acer's last-gen W3 8" (which has microHDMI, but no IPS screen, no stylus, and lesser storage capability), plus Dell's apparently uses Synaptics stylus, which don't seem to get the approval that Wacom's do. Apparently Wacom's other styli, which aren't as small/slim also work, and they might be more controllable re pressure levels.

By murdic on 21 Apr 2014

Free office

I just bought a 64GB version of this tablet, but there was no sign of the free office key in the box. Asus support claim they only include a "free trial" version of office, this despite their own website claiming full office is included. Any chance PCPRO can look into this as everywhere I've looked (reviews, official ASUS pages etc), it mentions "full office" should be free with this device.

By Ic3Knight on 1 May 2014

Warranty NOT 2 Year RTB

Note Asus typically only give a one year warranty in the UK NOT 2 years as stated.

By MKnight on 29 Jul 2014

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