Mini Asus tablets have Atom internals

Everyone's making mini tablets these days, and Asus has added a couple of unique ones to its stable. The first is the rumored VivoTab Note 8, which combines the Bay Trail-based Atom Z3740 processor from the Transformer Book T100 with an 8" IPS panel and a digitizer-powered Wacom stylus that boasts 1,000 levels of pressure sensitivity. The stylus is an especially good fit for Windows 8.1, which has decent handwriting recognition built right in.

The display resolution is limited to 1280x800, unfortunately, but the VivoNote is otherwise well equipped. It has front- and rear-facing cameras and support for 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Miracast. There's up to 64GB of onboard storage, and users can add 64GB more with a microSD card. A free copy of Office Home and Student is included, as well.

The VivoTab Note 8 measures 0.47" (11 mm) thick and weighs 0.84 lbs (380 g), so it should be easy to hold with one hand. Users can expect eight hours of run time from the 15.5Wh battery, which sounds reasonable. The tablet looks fairly affordable, too. It's set to arrive in late Q1 or early Q2 priced at $299 for the 32GB version and $349 for the 64GB variant.

If you look at tablets and think, "hey, I wish I could plug my smartphone into the back," then Asus' second mini slate might appeal to you. The PadFone Mini is really a 4" Android handset with a 7" screen dock. The smartphone slides in the back of the slate to power the larger display, and Asus' software automatically scales everything for the higher resolution.

The tablet screen is limited to 1280x800, and the handset is stuck at 800x480, so these aren't particularly high-resolution offerings. The panels are based on IPS technology, though, and the surrounding "spun" metal and soft-touch surfaces look quite nice.

Intel's dual-core, quad-thread Atom Z2560 provides the horsepower. The 1.6GHz chip is based on the last-generation Atom CPU core, but it's near the top of Intel's smartphone SoC lineup. I'm curious to see how fast it feels running Android, especially with Asus' promised KitKat update. Asus has layered its own ZenUI on top of the OS, too, and it's even developed an alternative to Google Now. Since we've praised the relatively pure Android experience offered by Asus' previous devices, I'm not sure how I feel about the company moving in the opposite direction.

The PadFone has 8GB of onboard storage and a microSD slot good for 64GB more. There's a 2MP camera up front, an 8MP camera around the back, and the whole thing fits into a 0.26-lb (116-g) package that measures 0.44" (11 mm) thick. The tablet portion is 0.54" (14 mm) thick and adds another 0.57 lbs (260 g). It also packs an auxiliary battery.

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