Despite the critics negative view of Windows 8, I have embraced the new OS. While Win8 is perfectly capable using a mouse, playing with my Surface RT the past few weeks, the touch screen has spoiled me a bit. And my i7 desktop has reminded me again how much fun a fast computer could be. While I currently don’t have a a big need for a mobile PC beyond my very capable phone, there are times where a laptop/notebook would come in handy.
I didn’t compromise much with my powerful new desktop, and the Surface RT speaks for itself. But for a notebook that I might only use occasionally, I knew that the $1,000+ Ultrabooks current being offered were way out of range for my needs. While the Asus X202E might not be a power-packed, full feature notebook, it is a more than capable machine which is honestly a blast to use. Actually at $499-$549, it is a very affordable Windows 8 touchscreen notebook, with enough specs to keep any non-power user happy.
Some of the important stuff:
- Intel Core i3 3217U 3rd Gen 1.8 Ghz Processor w/Turbo Boost
- DDR3 1333 MHz SDRAM – 4GB
- 11.6” 16:9 HD (1366×768) LED Backlit 10 Finger MultiTouch Display
- 500GB HD – 5400 RPM
- Intel HD4000 Integrated Graphics
- (2) USB 2.0, (1) USB 3.0, (1) VGA, (1) HDMI, (1) RJ45, (1) Combo Audio Jack
- 2 in 1 Card Reader, HD Web Cam, 802.11 b/g/n, 10/100 Base T
- 2 Cell 5136 mAh Battery – 4 Hours
- Asus Smart Gesture Touchpad
- 2 Second Instant On
The 1366×768 display (same as the Surface RT) works for me. With my failing eyes, bigger is better. It measures about 0.5” taller and 0.75” wider than the Surface RT display. The screen is crisp and easy on the eyes. The touch responsiveness is excellent and absolutely no scrolling lag. Actually, if anything I think it scrolls just a tad too quickly. The i3 may not be as robust as my desktop, but everything I have thrown at it in the past 24 hours has responded admirably. Videos and audio launch instantly. Interestingly, Asus chose to partition the 500GB drive; a 200GB “C” and a 300GB “D”, labeled data. It works for me, but some novice consumers, whom this device is primarily priced and designed for, might be a bit confused.
The Smart Gesture Touchpad is really slick, emulating several of the gestures that work on the touch screen, like; swiping in from left, right and top, scrolling left/right or up/down with a two finger touch, or even rotating pictures with two fingers. The touchpad is flush with the surface of the brushed aluminum palmrests. Some have complained that the screen does not tilt back far enough (about 135 degrees) I find not problem with it. Remember, you are tapping and touching this screen, so you don’t want it moving a full 180 degrees. Instant on is also a cool feature. While Windows 8 bootup is fast, this is lightning fast. Battery life is not all that great, but what would you expect from a 3 pound, 0.86” thick computer. If I go camping I will bring my Surface RT.
The VivoBook includes three USB ports, including 1 USB 3.0 for high speed data transfer. It also has a full size HDMI port for connecting to that Living Room flat panel. Wi-Fi connects quickly with 4-5 bars throughout the house. Speed is 72Mbps connected to my my dual-band router. One point of confusion is Bluetooth. While the manual, admittedly made for multiple iterations of this notebook, references Bluetooth, and the Asus website lists Bluetooth as included on the X202E and S200E (Staples model) it does not appear to be included on this machine. I did read a review from one wild and crazy guy who opened the back cover of his VivoBook the day he got it and replaced the wireless card with a dual-band card , that also included a BT radio, which he explained that Asus had not included. So I don’t think they simply left it out of my particular machine. Although I already have a Jabra BT dongle and it’s not a big deal for me, I will be calling Asus out on this to see what kind of response they come up with
What the X202E, or more specifically the S200E Staples model, does include is an external CD-DVD/RW drive. None of the other online descriptions for this model mention this add-in. And as a point of information, the Q200E being offered by BestBuy, is dumbed down with an i3 2nd Gen Processor and an HD2000 Graphics Controller. Not sure if anything else is missing from their version, but the description specifically states, “no optical drive”. The Microsoft Store is offering the X202E, which does come with the updated specs for $499, but it is currently out of stock. I chose to purchase from Staples for $524 ($549 less a $25 coupon) because I wanted a brick and mortar to deal with if I had any problems in the first week. Amazon has the X202E for the same $549.
So if you want to experience Windows 8 on a touch display, and you don’t really have a need for a tablet form factor, the Asus VivoBook may be for you. Heck, it’s cheaper than the Surface RT (with a KB), with full Windows 8 (Standard, not Pro). Would make a great gift for that budding student, or just about anyone for the price. I have been complaining about how OEMs were totally ill prepared for the launch of Windows 8, but I think Asus got it right with this budget priced, feature rich model. For consumers sake (I prefer Asus) I only wish they had six equally priced touch enabled notebooks to choose from. Maybe next year.
Do I prefer the VivoBook over the Surface RT? Truth is, I would have sold a kidney to own Microsoft’s ”first” computer. Their two different kinds of devices, with similar capabilities. I find myself using the keyboard every time I turn on the Surface RT, only because it’s already connected. Although perfectly capable as a light laptop, I am going to focus on using the Surface RT as a tablet and forget that there is a desktop behind that Start screen. The VivoBook will be for the heavier hitting, like creating this post. You can find the Asus X202E (S200E) ViviBook at Staples here. And at the Microsoft store here.