Asus VivoTab RT TF600T review
Microsoft risked irking its PC partners with the release of the Surface, but going by the VivoTab RT TF600T, Asus isn’t bothered in the slightest. Instead, the Taiwanese manufacturer has let its hardware speak for itself. Taking the hybrid design pioneered by its Android-powered Transformer tablets, and adding Windows RT, it takes the fight to Microsoft’s own-brand tablet with gusto.
At a glance, you’d barely be able to tell the VivoTab RT from its Android-powered cousins. Apart from a subtle tweak to the Mobile Dock’s hinge, and the capacitive Windows Start button on the tablet’s screen surround, it’s practically identical to its Transformer-branded stablemates, with the same gorgeous brushed-metal finish.
That’s no bad thing. Compared to Microsoft’s Surface, the tablet part of the VivoTab RT is an absolute featherweight. Asus has opted for a 10.1in form factor, half an inch smaller than that of the Surface, and the result is a tablet that, at 530g, weighs 20% less than its rival. We’ve only one complaint: after the diamond-grade toughness of the Microsoft Surface, the Asus hardware feels noticeably more flexible – but that’s being really picky.
Top of the docks
The tablet and optional Mobile Dock are a winning combination. The tablet slots home into the Mobile Dock base with a pleasing thunk, and a haptic buzz reassures that it’s locked safely in place. With the dock attached, the VivoTab RT weighs in at 1.07kg, only 107g more than the Surface with its optional Type Cover.
The transformation from lightweight tablet to fully functional netbook is seamless. The keyboard’s keys have a crisp action and a satisfying amount of travel, and while the layout is still a touch cramped, we’re pleased to see that Asus hasn’t had to shrink the cursor keys to unusable proportions. The buttonless touchpad generally works well, too, with two-fingered dabs bringing up the right-click context menu and two-fingered swipes smoothly scrolling you through menus and web pages. The only niggle is pinch-to-zoom gestures are juddery – it’s better to reach out and use the touchscreen itself.
The 10.1in display feels small after Microsoft Surface’s 10.6in unit, but it shares the same 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution and quality is noticeably improved. The display oozes with intense, saturated colour, and with a maximum brightness of 466cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 932:1, the Super IPS+ panel puts in a superb all-round performance.