We tested battery life twice: once running TR Browserbench 1.0, a web browsing simulator of our own design, and again looping a 720p Game of Thrones episode in Windows Media Player. (In case you're curious, TR Browserbench is a static version of TR's old home page rigged to refresh every 45 seconds. It cycles through various permutations of text content, images, and Flash ads, with some cache-busting code to keep things realistic.)
Before testing, we conditioned the batteries by fully discharging and then recharging each system twice in a row. We also used our colorimeter to equalize the display luminosity at around 100 cd/m².
There is an upside to the Atom processor's extreme emphasis on power efficiency over performance, and here it is. The VivoTab Smart nips at the iPad 3's heels in our web-browsing battery life test, and it actually stays on longer than the Apple tablet in our video playback test. That's very impressive for an x86 tablet. Some ARM-based offerings like the VivoTab RT still achieve longer run times, especially when plugged into a keyboard dock with extra battery cells, but the VivoTab Smart clearly has enough battery for all-day use.
Well, there you have it. I think the VivoTab Smart may be the first serious Windows 8-powered competitor to Android- and iOS-based tablets.
On top of all that, you're able to run Windows 8 and legacy x86 software. In a pinch, you can fire up LibreOffice or Photoshop or Quicken and get some real work done. The experience may be somewhat punishing compared to what you'd get out of a desktop PC or an ultrabook. However, being able to do something slowly is better than lacking the option to do it altogether.
So, should you buy a VivoTab Smart?
That's a more difficult question to answer. As a tablet, the VivoTab Smart does have some notable downsides: relatively cheap build quality (the rear shell is made of soft-touch plastic, not brushed aluminum), a somewhat low display resolution (1366x768), and limited capabilities as a gaming device (which partly stems from the Windows Store's limited selection). Someone looking for a pure tablet may be better served by something like Google's Nexus 10, which costs $30 less, has a higher-PPI display, and can run more, better-looking games. Then again, not everybody is a gamer, and the VivoTab Smart's display is no uglier than a notebook screen when browsing the web.
Hmm. Decisions, decisions.
Whether the VivoTab Smart is for you or not, I don't think I would recommend the TranSleeve and TransBoard combo for $120. Instead, I would grab the TranSleeve separately for $44.99, since it's needed to prop up the system, and I would use a regular Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Those peripherals wouldn't be as convenient to carry as the TransBoard, but they'd make the desktop interface far more comfortable to use—and when you're running desktop apps on a 10.1" Atom-powered tablet, every little bit helps.
24 comments — Last by moog at 4:07 PM on 05/05/13
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