11 Comments

Summary:

Asus has entered the small Windows tablet market with the Asus VivoTab Note 8 appearing in the Microsoft Store. The slate costs $30 more than similar devices but offers an advanced stylus with pressure sensitivity.

vivotab note 8 landscape

Announced at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Asus VivoTab Note 8 tablet is now available for sale. The original price was slated to be $299, but the Windows 8.1 tablet launched on Microsoft’s online store for $329 on Monday, notes Engadget. Just hours after its initial availability, the VivoTab Note 8 shows as “out of stock” in the Microsoft Store.

vivotab note 8 angled

I’m not reading the lack of stock as a successful launch, mainly because we have no idea how much inventory Microsoft actually started with. The VivoTab Note 8 is also slightly more expensive than its peers in the store: Similar tablets from Toshiba, Dell and Lenovo are currently priced at $299 and recently were on sale for as low as $229.

One key difference the VivoTab Note 8 has is a Wacom digital stylus that can register more than 1,000 levels of pressure sensitivity. Unlike Microsoft’s own Surface products that also include a digital pen, the VivoTab Note 8 can store the stylus inside the tablet — a much better solution.

vivotab note 8 with pen

Like most tablets in this class, Asus chose a recent 1.33 GHz Intel Atom processor to power the slate, which has an 8-inch, 1280 x 800 IPS touchscreen display. Memory is a standard 2 GB of RAM along with 32 GB of internal storage. Instead of taking some of that storage space for a Windows recovery partition, Asus smartly includes an 8 GB recovery microSD card; this tablet should have at least 3 or 4 GB more user-available storage as a result.

The VivoTab Note 8 has a pair of cameras (5 and 1.2-megapixels — includes Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 software, has Bluetooth and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and weights 0.85 pounds. Asus says to expect 8 hours of battery life on a single charge.

Surface Touch Cover

Although I’ve used Windows 8.1 on both an Asus Transformer T100 and Surface Pro 2, I haven’t tried a smaller slate with Windows of late. I’ve reached out for a review unit and will share thoughts in the near future to see what the experience of Windows on a small screen is like. The idea behind such devices is that consumers will use touch-friendly apps the majority of the time and will use Windows apps occasionally, perhaps extending them to a larger display as needed. I’m curious to see if these slates deliver on that promise.

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  1. Craig Campbell Monday, February 10, 2014

    I recently purchased a Dell Venue Pro 8 and like it a lot – but the active stylus is a complete disaster, it simply doesn’t work properly, hover-clicks all over the place. I have the new FW which was supposed to fix most issues… Dell took the stylus down for sale, many people are reporting they were told Dell are revising the stylus and will re-issue it.

    My return period for the Dell expired yesterday. If the Asus truly is available now, I may be regretting not returning the Dell when I had the chance. Hoping Dell truly does launch a revised stylus…..

    1. That’s a shame, Craig. I haven’t used the Dell (nor the Asus) so I can’t comment but when implemented properly, devices with Wacom digitizers are generally solid. That may be worth the extra cost in the Asus.

      1. Kevin, it’s a shame you couldn’t help but play your cards like every other tech journalist out there, 2 lines of genuine unbiased reporting, and 85% Microsoft hatred. What’s up with people like yourself trying to determine what something is worth or not to me? Do you do the same to Apple products? Obviously including a stylus and the tech to back it up is going to cost more money than a standard touch display panel, sounds like simple economics to me, but I guess you missed that part in college?

        1. Sorry, I’m not seeing the “85% Microsoft hatred” you claim I’ve written above. Can you clarify with specifics? Happy to respond if I understand what you take issue with.

        2. I don’t understand the bias accusal here? I’ve followed Kevin for years and tech bias is absolutely not something of which I would accuse him. I think you may be looking for controversy where there is none to be found.

  2. Craig, you have my sympathies. I received my Dell Venue 8 Pro last week and have also found it to be disastrous with the stylus. I’m lucky as I’m still within my 7 day grace period and have emailed Dell earlier today to request a return.

    The Asus is my replacement of choice after reading a review by the author David Hewson http://davidhewson.com/2014/02/10/revising-without-paper-finally-it-works/

    1. Thanks for sharing the review! More and more tempted by the Asus. At the very least though, I would have to wait for a 64GB version. I really think 32GB is far too small for these tablets – they have anything from 7-11 GB free after the OS and any bloatware. I like to install some games (low spec ones obviously!), so I need some freedom with storage space. I had gotten a great deal on the Dell – 64GB for $299, which is part of the reason I went for it. It really is a great tablet, if they fix the disgraceful pen.

  3. I was trying one out at the Microsoft Store (opened this past weekend) and for some reason the operation of pen had issues in the middle of the screen: there was a section near the middle of the screen where the screen could not recognize the pen stoke.

    1. The reason that the pen has problem working in the middle is because the store put a big magnetic lock in the back of the machine, which interephere with the digitizer function significantly. The Microsoft Store should know about that.

  4. The Dell Venue Pro 8 does NOT use WACOM digitizer. It uses a digitizer made by Synaptics instead. WACOM digitzers are typically accurate and operate well, so hopefully this ASUS unit will not have the same issues as the Dell machines experience.

    1. I’d expect the Wacom to work well – they’ve been at this for many, many years. I should have known better when I bought the Dell – First, It’s a Dell!! Having used many at work over the years, I’ve never been too impressed. Secondly – the touch/pen screen is Synaptics. Obviously they have lots of experience with trackpads, but I guess their touchscreen/active-digitiser technology is unproven. The consensus seems to be that a revised Dell/Synaptics pen is in the works. If it comes out soon and works, then fine. Otherwise I’ll have to sell the Venue Pro 8 and get the Asus.

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