Affordable 8-inch Windows 8 tablets are becoming ubiquitous, and we’ve found the more recent models, such as Dell’s $299 Venue 8 Pro and Lenovo’s $299 Miix 2 8, impressive—at least in terms of overall performance and battery life. Granted, these compact Windows devices tend to cost a little more than the average like-size Android slate, but keep in mind that what you get for the few extra bucks is essentially a full-blown handheld PC that can run the majority of Windows’ entertainment and productivity programs.
In addition to providing access to millions of Windows apps, Windows tablets provide several other advantages over Android devices. For example, Windows slates deliver a much wider range of compatibility with most people’s desktop PCs; they utilize Windows’ network and security features more efficiently; and they save many folks the trouble of learning and working with two different operating systems, thereby decreasing the learning curve and increasing overall productivity.
Alas, this is not to say that these Windows handhelds are perfect compared to their Android counterparts. Despite the respectable performance and miserly power consumption delivered by their latest quad-core Intel Atom (a.k.a. “Bay Trail”) processors, most can’t match the battery life of Android compacts. And the Android OS handles relatively high resolutions more gracefully—especially when the Windows device is running in desktop mode.
In fact, objects such as icons and pull-down menus are often far too small to manipulate comfortably with your fingers, which can make using the tablet frustrating—so much so that some manufacturers, such as Dell with the Venue 8 Pro, have added stylus or pen support to help you get to those tight spots.
However, the Dell slate’s stylus support seems like an afterthought: You must purchase the pen separately, and Dell doesn’t provide any way to store it on the tablet. By contrast, the subject of this review, Asus’ $329-list VivoTab Note 8, not only comes with a stylus but also a compartment to store it in.
And that, the bundled and neatly stowed away Wacom active stylus, is what makes the slightly more expensive VivoTab stand out from other recent Windows slates. Otherwise, it runs on the same processor and comes with mostly the same software and feature set as the Lenovo and Dell models mentioned above—two tablets that, by the way, we liked a lot.
In addition to the $329 VivoTab Note 8, which comes with 32GB of storage, Asus also hawks a 64GB version for $369. Given their low prices, all three of the Windows tablets mentioned on this page are solid buys, but we think that the Asus, with its well-performing stylus with 1,024 pressure sensitivity levels (which we’ll discuss in a minute), delivers better all-around value.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.