The Asus VivoTab Note 8 is the best small form-factor Windows 8.1 tablet available. But even with its dockable Wacom stylus, the Microsoft OS isn't suited to smaller tablets.
Wacom stylus, Windows 8.1 productivity services, bundled with Microsoft Office
Dull design, average screen, small display means text and desktop applications can be fiddly to use
Model: Asus VivoTab Note 8
Display: 8in LED Backlight, WXGA, 1280x800, in-plane switching (IPS)
Processor: Intel Atom Z3740 quad-core, 1.86GHz
Memory: 2GB RAM
Operating system: Windows 8.1
Storage: 32GB and 64GB, upgradeable via micro SD
Cameras: 5MP rear, 1.26MP front
Ports: Micro USB, audio jack and micro SD
Battery: 8 hours quoted battery life
The New Year has seen an influx of new small form factor Windows 8 tablets. These have included devices from tech heavyweights, such as Lenovo, Dell and Toshiba. However to date, as we noted in our Toshiba Encore review, these portable, 8in Windows 8 devices have been slightly fiddly to use, especially when they are running in the operating system's desktop mode.
Asus has moved to fix this with its VivoTab Note 8, bundling it with a dockable stylus. But even with this, we have to question whether the Intel Atom-powered VivoTab Note 8 will have any success battling its more established iPad Mini and Nexus 7 competitors.
Design and build
The Asus VivoTab Note 8 looks fairly generic and has the same minimalist design seen on most other Windows 8 tablets. It features a polycarbonate, slightly curved single-piece backplate that connects to a flat Gorilla Glass front.
Were it not for the Asus logos emblazoned on its back and front, the VivoTab Note 8 would look all but identical to competing devices, such as the Toshiba Encore or Dell Venue 8 Pro. This means, compared with slightly more sleek tablets, such as the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini with Retina display, the VivoTab Note 8 looks slightly dull and boxy.
That said, the tablet is far from ugly by Windows tablet standards and has a reasonable selection of ports. The VivoTab Note 8 comes loaded with micro USB, audio jack and micro SD inputs. It is also fairly travel friendly, measuring in at 221x134x10.95mm and weighing 380g. The VivoTab Note 8 also has a discreetly hidden Wacom stylus, which docks at its bottom right-hand side.
We were reasonably happy with the VivoTab Note 8's build quality, with its slightly rubberised back proving fairly scratch and mark resistant and offering next to no give when pressed. That said, we still wouldn't trust it to survive a drop onto a hard surface.
Our only real issue with the VivoTab Note 8's design is that it doesn't feature a Windows button on its front. Instead it has an oddly placed "back" button on its top left-hand side. This isn't the end of the world but it made the VivoTab Note 8 feel slightly odd and awkward to navigate.
Next: Display and operating system