Asus VivoTab TF810C: First look at a solid Windows 8 tablet with pen

Asus VivoTab TF810C: First look at a solid Windows 8 tablet with pen

Summary: A new VivoTab arrived yesterday, and the first impression of this Windows 8 tablet with the keyboard dock and pen is favorable.

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It was almost two months ago that my HP Envy x2 arrived, and I've come to like this tablet with laptop dock. Unfortunately, it is missing one thing I need, so an Asus VivoTab is now sitting on my desk. I bought the optional VivoTab laptop dock with the tablet, as I consider one to be mandatory to serve my needs as a good laptop. The one thing it has that the Envy lacks is an active digitizer with pen support for taking ink notes, which is the reason I bought it.

Laptop config
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The VivoTab hasn't been with me long enough to offer detailed impressions, but it's already showing some nice touches worth sharing in this first look.

Hardware specs

Tablet

  • Model #: VivoTab TF810C-C1-GR

  • CPU: Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core at 1.8GHz

  • Memory: 2GB

  • Display: 11.6-inch (1366x768); 16:9 IPS

  • Storage: 64GB

  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS; NFC

  • Ports: Audio in/out; micro HDMI; microSD (SDHC)

  • Audio: quad speakers with SoundMaster Audio Technology

  • Active digitizer with pen: Wacom

  • Cameras: 2MP (front); 8MP auto-focus (rear) 1080p video recording

  • Battery: 30Wh, 10.5 hours

  • Dimensions: 294.2x188.8x8.7mm, 11.58x7.43x0.34 inches; weight: 675g, 1.48lbs

  • Extras included: 32GB Asus cloud web storage; carrying case/stand; USB dongle; extra nibs for pen.

Keyboard dock

  • Dimensions: 294.6x187x10.16mm, 680g 11.6x7.4x0.4 inches, 1.5lbs

  • Battery: 25Wh, 8.5 hours

  • Ports: USBx2; proprietary power port (can charge both dock and tablet).

First thoughts

The tablet in the dock is a very sturdy laptop, with a good keyboard and decent trackpad. The latter is not as good as other trackpads I've used, but it is functional. The whole package weighs just under 3 pounds and is insanely thin.

Laptop side view
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The tablet snaps into the dock easily, and has the unlock slider on the tablet and not the dock, which is unusual. Removing the tablet from the dock is as easy as sliding the unlock slider on the lower left of the tablet and pulling it out of the dock.

The VivoTab is a good tablet, with performance as expected for an Atom processor. Operation is smooth and snappy doing typical things for a Windows 8 tablet. The screen is nice and vivid, and touch operation is as expected.

The pen works very well, as is typical for Wacom technology. Inking in apps that support it is smooth and pleasant. Asus went with a pen slightly larger than the stick stylii that most OEMs are using, and it feels more natural in the hand than the little ones. Unfortunately, this means there is no storage silo in the tablet, but it's an acceptable tradeoff.

Tablet in stand
Included sleeve used as tablet stand.
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Asus includes a sleeve for the VivoTab with the tablet that also serves as a dual-position stand for the slate. It fits the tablet without the dock perfectly, but I need to play with the stand capability to see how well it might work.

Laptop closed
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The most impressive thing about the VivoTab so far is the insane battery life it yields. The tablet alone gets a good 10 hours on a charge and another 9 hours in the dock. Asus uses smart battery handling for the two-battery setup. The dock battery is depleted first, and then it switches to the tablet battery when the former is dead. This gives you a full tablet battery when you pop it off the dock to go pure slate.

I'll have more detailed information about the VivoTab and the laptop dock after I spend more time with it. So far, it has been a solid laptop and a pleasant tablet to use. The pen input is already very useful for taking ink notes, my primary reason for buying it.

Laptop dock
Laptop dock (not included with tablet).
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Reviews, Tablets, Windows 8

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Talkback

22 comments
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  • So is this now your...

    ...Envy x2 replacement? And how is the build quality? One thing I like about the x2 is the solid aluminum construction. It oozes quality. Otherwise, the specs sound virtually identical (though I give an edge to the x2's full-sized SD Card slot and HDMI port) - aside from the pen, of course. I wonder if HP will ever sort out the confusion they caused by promising a pen option for the x2 and then going silent about it... :(

    RCK
    rkennedy01
    • And you should also mention...

      ...price, since the best deal I'm seeing on the VivoTab is nor of $770 (Amazon.com), and that's without the dock. By contrast, the Envy x2 can now be had for under $600 (under $500 if you find a deal) and it always includes the dock. I paid $499 out the door at Staples, so... :)

      RCK
      rkennedy01
      • Price wasn't the main criteria

        The Envy x2 is a lot cheaper so if price is a big factor it's the choice. I really liked the Transformer Android models so knew this VivoTab would be a good choice for me.
        JamesKendrick
  • 16:9 vs 16:10 for inking

    Hi James: thanks for your post, thoughtful as always.

    I had a similar need as the one you describe. I ended up ordering a HP Elitepad 900, which has similar specs as this (and many other W8 tablets available now), except for the little-teeny-tiny fact that it has a 16:10 aspect ratio, which for me makes it a better option for inking in portrait mode. It also has a 10.1 inch screen so you do lose some screen real estate.

    I am curious as to what made you go/wait for this Asus model. You could have gone with a Samsung Ativ 500T (same specs and 11.6 screen with wacom digitizer, keyboard dock, silo for pen, etc). I had this one for a few months and it is really nice (except for the "pesky" detail about the screen aspect ratio which is the reason I replaced it with the Elitepad).
    miralles
    • The problem

      I agree on the aspect ratio, however the problem with the elite pad's 1280x800 resolution is that is does not meet the minimum to support Metro's side-by-side multi-app display feature (unless Microsoft has changed the minimums since I last read about it).

      Now I haven't really used Windows 8 enough to tell how useful this feature is, but it's the one thing that makes me weary of that particular convertible machine.
      dsf3g
      • Good point!

        I'll try this out and let you know what I find out hands-on.

        The other thing I didn't mention is that in my search for a 16:10 aspect ratio I came across the Kupa X15 which I have not yet seen in the wild. This one has an i5/i7 processor (so more like the Surface), also has digitizer with pen, but is a lot more expensive.
        miralles
        • Interesting

          Just looked up the specs on their website (Kupa X15). That looks like a GREAT tablet! I'm using the surface pro currently, but the aspect ratio is a small issue in portrait mode for note taking. The only downside I;m seeing with all of the tablets right now is Windows 8. If you could only "downgrade" to Win 7 these tablets would be a fantastic solution for business use (with the i5/i7 options).
          The cost issue might be a non issue if the tablet has longer life. I really like that the Kupa has a removable battery! Don't know who designed those, but I think the extra features probably make the extra cost worth it.
          Sul52
      • Wait for Windows Blue

        I think in Windows Blue, it will be more useful, because it will allow for customized sizes of the side by side windows, instead of like a 70:30 ratio. The small "30" part is really useless to me.
        zad225
    • Liked the Transformer Prime models

      I tried a couple different Asus Transformer Prime models and found the to be very good Android tablets. This led me to the VivoTab which is essentially a Transformer Windows 8 version. My time will be spent divided between laptop and inking so the aspect ratio isn't that big a deal for me.

      The build quality of the VivoTab is good and quite sturdy.
      JamesKendrick
      • Good point about the dual use (keyboard and inking)

        For me, I am only using it in slate mode and inking a lot of the time (for classes, meetings etc), so the aspect ratio (and the smaller size) made me go for the Elitepad.
        miralles
    • Problem with Samsung Ativ 500T

      I had the Samsung Ativ 500T for about a month and sold it because I was not satisfied. First, it was really slow to me, maybe I'm just too demanding, but I was able to buy 2 i3 laptops for the price of what I got from the sale. If I buy a hybrid type laptop/tablet, I'm going to wait for the next generation processors.

      Second, the keyboard dock DOES NOT have a battery, although, it is advertised in many stores as it having a battery that will extend the battery life, but this is not true; don't be fooled by it. I like the Wacom digitizer but it really as not as useful as it could be yet; maybe/hopefully, they'll update it.
      zad225
    • Ativ

      I have the Samsung Ativ Pro with an i7 and full desktop Win8 and it is awesome. I can actually start to see now how a tablet could (for some) replace the traditional desktop PC.
      Comes with the keyboard dock for laptop productivity which works well. And is great for consumption in tablet mode. I've actually been quite productive recently using as a slate with a stylus.
      haggis75
  • Looks nice

    Looks like a nice machine. If it's anything like my current ASUS Transformer then it should be a great device to use. The only thing that's keeping me from getting one of these (other than the fit my wife would throw when I walked into the house with another computer) is that I suspect the next generation of Atoms are going to really hit the ball out of the park as far as performance vs. power consumption goes. At this stgae I feel it makes sense to wait a little longer.
    dsf3g
    • Same for me

      having bought a Transformer, an HP Touchpad and the Surface RT, I am trying to holdout for a Pro on Haswell.
      primartcloud
  • Thanks.

    James, good stuff and a well written review. I am in the market for a similar product. I look forward to your update(s) on the doc details when you post it. My one questions would be the details of adding/using an external monitor with the dock. Thanks again.
    littlebokey
  • they lost me

    with clover trail and low res. if it was haswell I might be interested. bay trail even better when it comes out.
    theoilman
  • I think you'll be very happy with the Asus

    I bought this same combo (Asus TF810c tablet and dock) a little over 2 weeks ago. I've been very happy with it so far. I had the Samsung Ativ first, ended up returning it. The Asus is the perfect combination of thin and light in tablet mode, and the battery life is just crazy. With normal use, I can skip plugging it in for a couple of days, and still be OK.
    wellthen
    • The case will fit to dock also

      Forgot to mention, the nice case that comes with the Asus will expand to fit the tablet with the dock also.
      wellthen
  • USB 2.0

    This is 2013 boys and girls. USB 2.0 is last decade technology.
    dhamilt01
  • Its about time

    I have had my 810C sense December 2012 , Works great. Some lock ups running Outlook 2013 , seems when an e-mail comes in it locks up with Excel etc open, What do you expect with 2 Gig of ram, I was shocked the other day when I received a bios update, sense the bios update I haven't locked up once, I am a heavy user, I use Boxcrypter with Dropbox, I created a Virtual drive on my SD card (64GB) I run Dropbox and skydrive on, I open these after the system is booted seeing it takes a minute for the Virtual drive to open

    This is unbelievable on Battery life, nothing like it to date, I didn't realize HP didn't have pen support

    By the way, ASUS has gone from great support to the worst I have seen in the industry, I have been recommending HP, I sent the keyboard back I split fluid on and it took them a month to receive my e-mails and a call every week, come to find out they couldn't e-mail my ck_ and I had to give them another e-mail, When I receive d the quote they wanted way more than the retail price to fix , I ordered another and they sent the old one back

    I was really upset but this unit is so good and there is no replacement on the market

    I next additional unit will be the Dell 18 inch, Great for showing presentations but won't come close to almost 20 hour battery life

    I tried to purchase Accidental warranty from ASUS , They no longer offer on tablets ??

    I will move on

    Sorry for long reply

    always purchase Accidental on a tablet!
    ckwade