Home Icon
asus-vivobook-f202e-review-11

Asus VivoBook reviewed: value-packed for Windows 8 on a budget

By Leigh D. Stark | 4:55 pm 06/11/2012

One of the pioneers of the netbook world has a computer it would like to show you. It lacks the EeePad name we saw on netbooks four years ago, and omits the Intel Atom processor, but we’re reminded very much of that generation of computers, because in the F202E, Asus has packed in so much value, it’s hard not to see it as the next generation of netbook computers.

Features

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.

Unlike some of the machines we’re seeing roll out, the VivoBook isn’t an Ultrabook, skipping over the Intel Core processors for something a little less performance intensive, and saving more than a few bucks for the end user.

Under the hood, Asus has equipped the F202 with an Intel Celeron processor, an ultra-low voltage chip that delivers 1.1GHz of speed and couples it with 2GB RAM, under the 4 to 8GB of RAM we’re used to seeing on Windows laptops.

With a less expensive price tag than its Ultrabook cousins, you can’t expect the super-speedy solid-state storage, and Asus is using a 320GB hard drive in this machine, offering more than enough storage for most needs.

You can always add more with three USB ports, one of which is of the new high-speed USB 3.0 variety, as well as a half-height SD card slot.

Designed more like a small Ultrabook, there’s no optical drive, but Asus has been kind enough to include a decent range of connections, such as HDMI out, VGA out, 3.5mm 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 WiFi connectivity.

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. Like the low specification processor, the display is also relatively low-end, featuring only 1366×768 as its resolution, high enough to be considered “HD,” but certainly not as impressive as other displays.

A web camera sits at the top of the 11.6 inch screen, offering video conferencing in 720p HD, and your operating system is preloaded with Windows 8.

Performance

Many of the machines being released for Windows 8 arrive with high-end specifications and designs, essentially evolved from Intel’s Ultrabook design and enhanced for touchscreen functionality, one of the key pillars for the new generation of Windows.

But not every customer can afford a computer over a grand, and that’s where the Asus VivoBook comes in, offering a touchscreen computer for under $500. In fact, it’s barely been out for more than a week, and we’re already seeing this computer for $488 in some stores, showing that this is a budget Windows 8 machine, and one of the only ones at that.

So what exactly is a budget Windows 8 machine like?

The answer is surprisingly decent, with the Asus VivoBook F202E offering excellent value, even if it doesn’t have a lot of speed.

For the design, Asus has 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, mind you, 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.

Open it up and you’ll see the 11.6 inch screen, which isn’t the best we’ve seen, but is an option we didn’t expect to be standard on a sub-$500 notebook computer.

You’ll also see an island-key keyboard, that offers a pleasant typing experience, with the keys having a light click sound and a decent amount of travel. This review was written on the Asus VivoBook keyboard, and while we found a few mistakes over the course of using it, most were down to us, with a solid typing experience offered here.

A touchpad mouse is also provided, as some of the apps you use might prefer a mouse compared to a touchscreen. The mouse follows the widescreen display quite nicely, and offers 12.5mm diagonal of space, bigger than the spacebar on this machine.

Like the Acer Aspire S7, however, you should stick to zooming in with touch interactivity on the screen, and not on the touchpad, as the drivers still aren’t amazing for anything more than two-finger scrolling.

Windows 8 is included here, not the RT version gracing some tablets that lacks compatibility for Windows XP, Vista, and 7-based applications, so you can bring your software with you, perfect for students given the application requirements in education and beyond.

With a price tag that’s well under most touchscreen computers out there, you’d expect the Asus F202E to not be as good as the competition, and though it manages to surprise, it’s not without its flaws.

Leading them is, unsurprisingly, the performance of the system, and with an Intel Celeron under the hood, this is most certainly not a high speed box. While the touchscreen does an admirable job of picking up on multiple fingers and gestures, it can take half a second or so for the system to catch up with whatever you’re doing.

We saw this performance issue a few times with both the modern LiveTile interface in Windows and desktop mode, as well as various apps we installed, as the computer paused between gestures and bringing up dialog boxes. Applications would sometimes stop working too, or would be delayed by ten or fifteen seconds.

You won’t get an instant on effect, either. With the conventional hard drive in use here alongside the processor, we found the standby-to-on time of 5 seconds greeted us, and an off-to-on time of a little over a minute.

We get it, the Intel Celeron isn’t a great processor, but it delivers enough performance for surfing the web, really casual gaming, and the regular range of office activities. It sure isn’t a speed demon, though we suspect a lack of memory isn’t helping things here.

The screen isn’t top notch either, something you’ll notice the moment you have to look at it. We’re not at all bothered by the 11.6 inch size, but rather the display type, which has poor vertical angles and forces you to struggle to find the right – and comfortable – angle to read the screen.

Images and on-screen text can lack clarity too, and you’ll quickly realise that this isn’t a high grade display, not like that of the Acer Aspire S7 or even Apple’s iPad.

Still, there are decent touch capabilities there, so it’s not all bad.

Asus has learned a few things about the battery charger, and that’s good news, ditching the overly bulky laptop brick that most notebooks will come with.

What it hasn’t managed here is a power brick that charges its machine quickly. Whether you need just a touch of juice or the whole nine yards, there’s a high chance you’ll be waiting a few hours for the machine to build that strength back up.

Battery life isn’t terrible, mind you, and we managed an easy four to five hours from the VivoBook, but getting the life back up to the one hundred percent mark can take a few hours, so just be aware of that when you’re doing something like flying.

Conclusion

It’s not the best Windows 8 machine you’re ever going to lay eyes on, but sitting pretty at just under $500, it’s insanely hard to argue with.

The keyboard is surprisingly good, providing even better travel than we had on the last – and first – Windows 8 machine we reviewed, and we’d be pretty hard pressed to find another manufacturer touting a touchscreen laptop for this price tag.

The Asus VivoBook F202E certainly isn’t for everyone, and with a Celeron inside, you certainly won’t want to use this for gaming, photo editing, or video work.

Still, if your life is more about web surfing, writing documents, playing the odd casual game, and you’re keen on the new touch interface of Windows 8, but don’t want to fork out over a grand, it’s hard to go past this machine.

While netbooks are a dead market, Asus has done a great job with the VivoBook F202E, reviving an area for customers who demand value more than anything else, which is exactly what this computer brings.

Price (RRP)

$499

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

The least expensive Windows 8 touchscreen laptop we've seen; Reasonably thin and light; Charge pack is small and not bulky at all;

Product Cons

Battery takes hours to charge; Low-end screen with poor viewing angles and diminished clarity; Very low spec processor makes the system slower to respond;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

Latest reviews

  • Review: DeLonghi PrimaDonna Elite coffee machine

    DeLonghi’s latest machine may have a name deserving of people who fancy themselves over the top, but its quality speaks volumes enough that its actually deserved.
  • Review: Benq WiT LED desk lamp

    Benq may not be a brand you typically associate with lights, and we know it best for monitors, but your next work light could come from some neat R&D…
  • Review: KEF M400 headphones

    A brand synonymous with excellent audio, KEF is at it again with a pair of on-ear headphones that aim to bring audio to a compact and fashionable package. Does…
  • Review: Amazon Kindle Oasis

    Electronic books have already delivered a future where we can bring all of our books with us, but the next development will be one of super thin tablets that…
  • Review: Acoustic Research M2 (ARM2) media player

    While the phone has overtaken the conventional media player, those of us with special needs and high resolution audio are embracing a new generation of media devices, and Acoustic…
  • Review: Husqvarna 136LiHD45 Hedge Trimmer

    If a guy who rarely enters his backyard can use a hedge trimmer, it’s a winner, and that means Husqvarna’s battery powered 45cm trimmer wins the gold, ticking the…
  • A phone with a difference: LG’s G5 reviewed

    LG’s quest for the ultimate flagship phone has been all about constant evolution, and for its 2016 attempt, we’re seeing the best one yet. Is it enough to unseat…
  • Review: Telstra Tough Max

    Telstra's Tough Max isn't like your ordinary phone, because if you need something that feels like it has been made for Australia, this may well be it.
  • Review: Apple iPad Smart Keyboard for 9.7 inch iPad Pro

    One feature on the iPad Pro can only be used with style of accessory: the dock connector, and it can only talk to keyboard cases. Right now, Apple’s Smart…
  • Review: Aftershockz Bluez 2S Bone Conduction earphones

    Imagine if you never had to wear an earphone again and could just hear the music in your head. That doesn’t have have to be a dream, because the…

“How do you stop yourself from being caught out by these scam artists?”

Read More

Tell us…

Will you be installing an ad blocker on your smartphone?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

“There’s certainly no doubt that you can find a bargain, but like always, you get what you pay for.”

Read More