Asus Vivo Tab RT Review: Windows RT Takes Flight

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If you've been waiting for the other shoe to drop in the tablet market, today is the day.  We're a few days ahead of Microsoft's Surface and Windows 8 launch on October 26th but the folks at ASUS (and other OEM partners) have been given the green light to let fly with their Windows RT tablet offering today.  Microsoft is allowing the wraps to slip off of their Windows RT operating system, a branding otherwise known as Window 8 for ARM-driven devices. And interestingly enough, it looks as if NVIDIA has a solid lock on Windows RT tablet market share, as not only Microsoft's Surface but the majority of Windows RT tablets to hit the market today are driven by NVIDIA's Tegra 3 quad-core system on a chip.

Let's think about this for a minute. NVIDIA's Tegra 3 quad-core SoC (4+1 companion core, please, NVIDIA would like you to remember that) has also powered the vast majority of Android slates as well.  So what we're looking at here is a very interesting dynamic where, for all intents and purposes, the hardware driving many current Google Android and Microsoft Windows RT tablets is pretty much identical, especially when it comes to 10-inch slates.  Now, paint that dynamic against the backdrop of Apple's ever-dominant iPad and iOS 6 and you have real tipping point in the tablet landscape, just in time for that holiday buying spree, of course.

Asus Vivo Tab RT with Optional Keyboard Dock

So, the sixty-four-thousand dollar question, as they say, is: Does Windows 8/RT have what it takes to compete in the sea of Android and Apple tablets currently on the market, as the Jelly Bean turns?  We'll try and answer that question to the best of our ability for you, in the pages that follow.

First, let's give you a hands-on look at the ASUS Vivo Tab RT and the Windows RT operating system in action.  Then we'll dig into the specifics of ASUS' first Windows RT offering.


Asus Vivo Tab RT
Specifications & Features
Operating System Windows RT with ASUS customizations
Display 10.1" LED Backlight (1366X768) Screen
Super IPS+, 600nits
10 finger multi-touch support
Corning Gorilla Glass 2
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30 Quad-Core SoC - 1.3GHz
Memory 2GB DDR3L 1333MHz
Storage 32GB / 64GB EMMC + 8G life time ASUS Webstorage space
Wireless Data Network WLAN 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz, Bluetooth V3.0
Camera 2MP Front Camera with improved field of view
8 MP Rear Camera with F2.2 aperture and revised hybrid IR filter
Dynamic Auto focus (rear) with flash
Audio Stereo Speakers, High Quality Mic
Interface Pad:
1 x 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone / Mic-in)
1 x micro HDMI
Mobile Dock:
1 x USB2.0 port
Sensor G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass, GPS
Battery 8+ hours; 25Wh Li-polymer Battery
14 hours pad with dock; 25Wh(pad) + 22Wh(dock) Li-polymer Battery
Software
Microsoft Office 13 Home and Student RT, Various Tablet Utilities
Dimensions 263 x 171 x 8.3 mm
Weight 1.14lbs, 2.3lbs with Dock
MSRP: 32G VivoTab RT + docking station - $599
64G VivoTab RT + docking  station - $699

The bundle is the same; you've seen it in so many Android slates before.  The AC power adapter is there with a standard synch/charge cable and ASUS is pushing a tighter coupling of their "optional" keyboard dock with the Vivo Tab RT.  After all, Windows 8/RT is all about combining the best things that a tablet experience has to offer, with cross-platform PC compatibility and functionality.

Beyond the user experience and software side of things, from a hardware perspective, ASUS set up the Vivo Tab RT very much like many of the Android slates in their Transformer line-up. NVIDIA's Tegra 3 SoC (System on a Chip) is backed-up, however this time, by a full 2GB of low power DDR3 memory.  In addition, ASUS' super-gorgeous Super IPS+ display technology makes an appearance again as well, with its full 600 nits of brightness, though native resolution is capped at a more modest 1366X768. 32GB and 64GB variants of the Vivo Tab RT are available with the keyboard doc, for an MSRP of $599 and $699 respectively, which includes a full version of Microsoft Office 13 RT Home and Student Edition, to complete the package. 

Let's get a closer look at the hardware...

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