1. harmon rabb's Avatar
    Wanting something small I could use for business purposes -- I type slow most tablets for some reason -- I was interested by this 8in tablet with its wacom digitizer and full version of windows. For all of $330, it's an 8in tablet with full windows 8, office, and a stylus that fits into an internal recess, so no need to carry the stylus around separately. I ordered one, it showed up Friday. Been playing with it since.

    Looks pretty much like a scaled up nexus 7 with smaller bezels, so pretty generic and meh in appearance. The power button and volume rocker are on the upper right side (when holding the tablet in portrait orientation), which I guess mimics most phones, but seems a little odd for a tablet. They should be farther down. The worst button placement, however, is the start button, which is on the top left side of the tablet (in portrait). There's enough bezel space on the bottom for a capacitive start button, which would have been a better choice imo. The stylus is stored in the lower right corner.. but pulls out from the right side, instead of from the bottom. I guess the configuration there doesn't matter, but what does matter is that the damn thing is in there pretty tight. I am not able to pull it out quickly/easily like I was able to do with the stylus on my note 2. Maybe that'll change over time.

    The screen, while not the ridiculous resolution of the latest crop of android tablets and apple tablets, is still pretty good, and even small text was perfectly readable. Without looking at it side by side with either my 1520 or my kindle fire hdx, I can't tell it's behind the times. However, make that side by side comparison and it's readily apparent that it's down on pixels. I've seen some complaints about the screen not being as bright as people would like, but using it indoors, I don't even have the brightness turned all the way up and it's plenty bright. Speaking of the screen, I note I like the 8in form factor. Not really any less portable or easy to hold than the 7in tablets, but you get extra screen space. I foresee the 7in tablet form factor dying and most small tablets going to 8in in the future.

    Since I've started off with a bunch of negatives, let me say some positives. I wasn't thinking it was going to be particularly speedy given that it's running full windows, but holy crap am I pleasantly surprised. All normal tabletey tasks are as fast as an android device running a s800 processor, which is to say instant with zero lag for anything, and switching between different open apps is actually a lot quicker. Normal desktop apps, like office, take about 2-3 seconds to load once launched. Given that my departed 3yr old i5 laptop (which thankfully was just replaced with a new i7/ssd laptop) took longer than this to launch desktop apps, I'm once again very pleasantly surprised. If anybody has concerns about bay trail tablets running full windows 8, lose them and rest assured that this combo works much, much better than it sounds like it would.

    Ok, now I've got to bring up the stylus, because that's why I bought the thing. Mixed bag, unfortunately. The handwriting recognition itself is outstanding, it actually gets my chicken scratch correct, and the screen is pretty precise in knowing exactly where the stylus is. However, for whatever reason, if I write full speed, it'll miss some strokes. If I write a little slower, there's no issue, but I'm disappointed by the fact I can't jot notes at my normal speed. So... here. I'm not sure the stylus is a reason to buy this thing, given this limitation, when it's supposed to be a reason to buy.

    Now, windows 8, which I haven't really used before. The gesture input is nicely done. A quick slide from the bezel on the left inward flips to your next open app, and this happens so quickly that you can move through your apps as fast as you can move your finger. In the end, this is much quicker than switching apps by holding down the back key (android or windows phone), then choosing the window you want. If you want to see a list of what's open instead of just flipping through them in order, slide from the bezel on the left inwards, then slide back off, and mini windows pop up on the left side showing your running apps. This works just as quickly as the android or windows phone way of task switching. Slide up from the bottom bezel, and your menu options appear. Slide in from the right, and the charms menu (on screen start button, options tab for the app currently displayed, etc) appears.

    So, gesture input, good. The strange disconnect between desktop apps and metro apps, not so good. You can't window a metro app, they're full screen only... and, sadly, mail (which is very similar to outlook for windows phone, and thus pretty damn good) is a metro app. The version of office that comes on the device doesn't include outlook , although given that it's running full windows 8, I guess I'll just blame asus for not including outlook, because the device is capable of running it. Perhaps the weirdest thing about the desktop/metro split is IE. There is metro-IE and desktop-IE, and you can't pull a metro-IE window into desktop mode, or vice versa. What the..?

    To bring up IE, however, I should mention the other standout point of this thing, and perhaps the biggest.. browsing is fantastic. I don't know if this is IE, or if Chrome would be as good (I'll give that a try later), but wow. By far, the best browsing I have ever experienced on a mobile device. Super fast, everything renders exactly like it does on a laptop/desktop, scrolling and zooming is buttery smooth, and no empty boxes due to flash or other **** that won't work on chrome for android, or safari, or IE for WP. In fact, the browsing experience is so good that I'd say if someone is looking for a tablet to use mainly for browsing the web, they should just pick their bay trail powered windows 8 tablet of choice and call it a day. Android and ios are not this good for browsing, straight up.

    Well, there you go. Much better than expected in some ways, not quite as good in others. With just a little more work on the stylus aspect, this thing could've been incredible, but even as it stands, it's quite nice for the price. Random point I forgot to make, it seems that 8in is the sweet spot for me when it comes to typing in tablets. I can't type for **** on the bigger tablets, and neither mode works that well for me on the 7in ones. On this though, in landscape mode, I can use two fingers on each hand and type at a pretty decent clip, enough to make it usable for productivity stuff and email without it being painful. I think with a little practice, I'll be typing on it quicker than I can on a phone, something which I never thought I'd do with a tablet.

    Tl;dr -- bought an asus vivotab note 8, stylus isn't as good as i'd hoped, but the device is much faster than i expected, and web browsing is shockingly good.
    02-16-2014 10:18 AM
  2. DBDev's Avatar
    Nice review! I am sure people will appreciate it
    02-16-2014 01:12 PM
  3. hiver2601's Avatar
    Great review, thx

    Sent from my Nokia 925 using Tapatalk
    02-19-2014 04:49 AM
  4. harmon rabb's Avatar
    Great review, thx

    Sent from my Nokia 925 using Tapatalk
    thanks! as i've been using this more over the past few days, i find i really like it, although i'm annoyed that it seems impossible to get any kind of cover shipped to me quickly. i've also been wondering... what would stop ms from throwing this processor in a phone, making a full set of phone metro apps, and delivering a full windows 8 phone? i almost think that with how well these new win 8 tablets run, and with how nice win 8 is with touch, that windows phone is now redundant.
    02-19-2014 10:33 AM
  5. Chris_Kez's Avatar
    While you can't have windowed metro apps, you can run two snapped side by side. It's not perfect, but for some apps it is quite nice. I do wish Win 8 supported snapped apps in portrait mode.
    03-05-2014 08:01 AM
  6. leland_jr's Avatar
    What I found is that you can use the Surface or any other Wacom pen for better results.
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    04-02-2014 10:11 AM
  7. ALToronto's Avatar
    I was just looking at this tablet in a Microsoft store - and what a difference in pricing between US (I assume) and Canada - here it's $369 for the 32 GB model, and it doesn't include Office. So with Office, it becomes a $500 tablet - a deal breaker for me, given it's an 8" tablet with less than stellar specs for the screen and pen. Any Canadians here? Is this tablet available with Office pre-loaded, for a reasonable price? TIA.
    04-08-2014 06:34 PM

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