Mobile News and PR Reviews - 06 December 2012
Author: Jim Szymanski

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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









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(13) Readers Comments

  1. Hey Jim,

    I picked up an X202e just before Turkey Day. I love the machine, but will admit that for home use Win8 is ok…but I know it would drive me nuts at work….Anyway about you bluetooth issue. Look closer. It should be there. Here’s a screen shot from my device manager.
    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31673116/X202e_devices.jpg

    I did a quick check and it was able to search and find the bluetooth radio for our household phone, so I know the radio is working. I haven’t tried to pair with either of my android phones though.

    • Thanks for the info Ed, but I just checked again and nothing between Batteries and Computer in Device Manager. And no alerts that I can see. So might I ask, where did you get yours? On the Asus website, only the Q200E (sold by BestBuy) is listed w/o Bluetooth. Both the X202E and S200E include Bluetooth in their wireless spec descriptions.

      So maybe my machine is glitched. Guess I will be contacting Asus today. Stay tuned.

      • Hey Jim,

        MicroCenter ( http://www.microcenter.com ) had just opened up a brick & mortar store here in the Baltimore market. They sent out a bunch of promotional material including $25 off anything in store. ( I also scored a free 32GB class microsd card :-) )

        It was close one as I almost picked up the Best Buy one until I realized that for only $25 more I could get the Ivy Bridge processor over the Sandy Bridge.

  2. I am not expecting to play Portal 2 in high levels on this but how is an occasional game on this device?

  3. Brian,

    I’m really not a gamer so I’m not in a position to answer that question. I bought the X202e as a replacement for my eeePc and really only use it for light duty work (web surfing) at home.

  4. Brian,
    Not a gamer myself, but I will try to find something robust enough (preferably free) and report back on performance.

    Ed D.,
    So, I logged into Asus Member Home and checked drivers for my VivoBook. Wouldn’t you know, there are two Bluetooth drivers available. I will try downloading the Atheros (that’s the driver my wireless card uses, same as yours) and see if it installs, maybe waking up Bluetooth. I also put a service ticket into Asus, referencing this article. Writing for sites like this does have it’s benefits.

  5. Hmm, the Atheros BT driver is 185MB. Me thinks that’s a little bit more than a driver.

    • Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure one of the first things I did with mine out of the box was check for updates and it did pull down a sizeable chunk of files.

      Hopefully that wakes ups your BT radio :-)

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  9. Hmm, interesting response from Asus:
    Dear valued customer,

    Thank you for contacting ASUS Customer Service.

    I check with your SN that your laptop doesn’t have bluetooth module. Thank you.

    Bluetooth is an optional module for your laptop. Some S200E come with BT modules and some don’t. Of course, the prices are different. If you want to add the BT module, I suggest you to contact our local service center for consulting. Here’s the contact information

    Interesting that they would make the same model number; one with and one w/o Bluetooth. I tried installing the driver and everything went ok. Even got a Bluetooth toggle switch is Wireless Settings, except it was grayed out. Oh well, as mentioned above I already have a BT dongle and three USB ports, so not a big deal. But confusing none the less.

  10. Hey Jim,

    Thanks for your great post and pics here. I saw this laptop at my local Staples store and fell in love with it right away. Came home to look up reviews and specs and found a deal that got me one from Staples online for $449.00. You review and feedback have got me really excited to start playing around with it.
    As far as bluetooth goes…well I never really use it, but have the usb type as well. I guess there are some different model numbers on the s200e – whatever. I like the Staples deal because I need the DVD drive and their’s is bundled with one. I would take that over the bluetooth :o)