A reasonably light laptop, value-packed for Windows 8 on a budget
It’s the age of the mobile worker. The workplace is no longer confined to one’s workstation. Businesses require that their employees are connected to their offices in a way that allows for quicker, smarter and more efficient information exchange. These road warriors need work machines that are lightweight, rugged and reliable. Taiwanese technology company ASUS has long promised these qualities in its laptops. It has now debuted its VivoBook, which brings Microsoft Windows 8 touch gestures on a ultra slim profile.
Computer PC makers are trying their best to beat back the tablet mania, that is eating into their sales. Many of the portable computers launched in recent months are hybrids or convertibles—morphing easily between portable tablets and full-powered laptops with a keyboard. With the release of Microsoft’s touch-centric Windows 8 platform in October and more power-efficient chips from Intel, PC makers are trying to spark growth by focusing on creating slim laptops with touchscreens that convert to tablets and vice versa.
Sometimes you really need a full laptop keyboard, that you would like to couple it with a Windows 8 touch experience. The VivoBook from ASUS is exactly trying to meet this: it is an excellent 11.6-inch notebook PC that includes a multitouch, capacitive touchscreen for all the cool new gestures built into Windows 8. Marketed as an inexpensive Windows 8 computer, the ASUS VivoBook looks to provide decent touch-connectivity for Windows 8 without the high price that other computers will offer.
Truth be told, the VivoBook has what it takes to be a solid ultra-portable laptop. The keyboard is excellent for touch typists. Battery life is a reasonable five hours or so and the power charger adapter is relatively small. The sound quality of the speakers is surprisingly good. And it weighs only 1.6 kg. What’s more, the ASUS VivoBook F202E is available at an affordable price point of Rs.39,999.
For the design, ASUS appears to have taken an approach that retains the sleek angled chassis we saw on the Transformer tablets, and to an extent, the Zen series of laptops ASUS released last year. There’s no metal in the build here, replaced with plastic on this computer, although it does have a brushed metal look. The bottom of the computer features a soft-touch plastic that offers a decent grip, and even though the top of the computer is slick when collapsed, it’s not hard to hold at all.
However, it’s the display that really sets the VivoBook apart. The screen on this model sits at 11.6 inches, higher than the 10.1 inch netbook craze from a few years ago, but smaller than the 13.3 and 15 inch notebooks in abundance today. There is a 1366 x 768 screen resolution (with a 16:9 ratio), which is suitable for movie viewing. The display delivers gorgeous-looking images and text. A Web camera sits at the top of the 11.6-inch screen, offering video conferencing in 720p HD.
The VivoBook has the latest Microsoft Windows 8 operating system with third Generation Intel Core i3- 3217U (1.8G, 3M) Intel Chief River processor. It has elegant esthetics and robust built quality for everyday life and has metallic chassis with aluminum hair-brush textures to enhance great look. The keyboard is easy to get used to and it offers a pleasant typing experience, with the keys having a light click sound and a decent amount of travel. The laptop’s relatively large click pad is also quite smooth.
On the VivoBook, the Windows Start Screen is the native interface, and seems capable and usable. Storage is a 320 GB magnetic hard drive running at 5400 RPM. This is certainly enough space to store any files and documents you will need to carry with you.
There is no optical drive in the VivoBook, but ASUS has been kind enough to include a decent range of connections, such as HDMI out, VGA out, 3.5 mm headset, and even a 10/100 Ethernet networking port, although you don’t have to rely on this, as the F202E also includes 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity. Speaking of ports, the machine encompasses USB 3.0 which is 10 times faster than USB 2.0.
Overall, the ASUS VivoBook looks to provide decent touch-connectivity for Windows 8 without the high price that other computers will offer.
* Display: 11.6 inch LED Backlight HD touchscreen
* Operating system: Microsoft Windows 8
* CPU: Intel Chief River i3-3217
(1.8 G, 3M)
* VGA: Intel HD 4000
* System RAM: G DDR3 1333 on board
* Storage: 500G, 5400 rpm
* Camera: HD camera
* WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n
Estimated street price: Rs. 39,999