I purchased a Windows 8 tablet (ASUS VivoTab 8) back in January with the intention of using it as a laptop replacement. On paper, it sounded perfect:
- Touchscreen that Windows 8 can work well in
- Full Windows 8 (none of this RT malarkey)
- Improved Intel Atom CPU and better battery life compared to a laptop
- Increased portability
- Only $150!
- Free Office 365 for a year
Let’s run down the list:
- Windows 8 on a touchscreen is pretty good. Heck, its actually great once you learn all of its little tricks.
- A full version of Windows 8 means I can install some of my favorite (read: ancient) apps I use like WinAmp 2.9 and Microsoft Money 2000.
- Remember Netbooks? Those used the first Intel Atom CPUs and they were dog slow. The newer one in the VivoTab is good for basic tasks and battery life has been in the 7-8 hour range which is what I wanted.
- Even with a case, the VivoTab is remarkably portable. Like my iPad mini, a 7-8″ tablet is the perfect size to carry around.
- The price was definitely right!
And now we get to the device’s biggest problem: Microsoft Office. Because the VivoTab is capable of running the desktop version of Microsoft Office, that’s what you get. That would be pretty neat, but Office is not optimized for touch on an 8″ screen. Thus, I end up wasting time mashing its teeny icons with my sausage-fingers and fighting the interface instead of doing work. Styluses are no help either, they make me feel like I’m trying to draw on the screen with a fuzzing crayon. I bought a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard so I can get around Office more efficiently, but carrying them around and setting them up sucks some of that wonderful ‘portability’ out of the tablet.
Finally, Office 365 sucks horribly on this device. It had a terrible habit of slowing down to the point where I could see letters being placed on the screen one…at…a…time every few seconds. I would type out a full sentence and then wait for the poor thing to catch up before doing the next one because I didn’t want it to crash and potentially lose my work. I got into the habit of saving very frequently for a few frustrating weeks before removing the craptacular Office 365 and installing my copy of Office 2010. Needless to say, I have no intention of paying for Office 365 when the trial year runs out.
I really like my VivoTab 8, and if Microsoft could get around to making a version of Office that was suitable for smaller tablets, I would like it a whole lot more.
Oh wait, they already made one…it’s on my iPad mini! /facepalm