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back to article Asus VivoBook S200 11.6in touchscreen notebook review

A few months ago I tried a preview of Windows 8 on my 11.6in HP Pavilion and frankly it made about as much sense as a vegetarian bacon sandwich. Why? Because, without a touch screen the Windows 8 Metro Modern UI lacks a crucial ingredient. Armed with only a keyboard and mouse, facing a wall of tiles just gets in the way. Asus …

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Does the touch screen make it top heavy at all?

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Top heavy?

Not at all. The very solid not to say stiff screen hinge and the sensitivity of the panel both help on this front. I was genuinely surprised how secure and stable using the touch screen felt.

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One thing

I'm starting to really miss with such devices since I first saw the Lenovo Yoga: A display that can be folded back all the way. With a touchscreen it's really nice to be able to put the thing up in "tent-mode" and to use it a media hub or watching something off YouTube or put it into the kitchen. It may be not enough to turn a small notebook into a tablet, but it surely makes such a thing much more useful at home.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Windows 8 and touchscreens would lead to such notebooks come more and more often with something like that. Even the MS Surface is rather something in between a touchscreen desktop computer and a (bad) notebook than just a true tablet.

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JDX
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Re: One thing

I agree, it's possible MS could bring touch-screens to mainstream like Apple have done with other stuff... not a new idea but making it popular.

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Re: One thing

@uhuznaa

+1 for the term "Tent Mode".

That Lenovo model looks good, since it allows casual sofa-bound fondling with hardly any compromise over a traditional laptop (bar a little extra cost for a few sensors and a few extra grams on the hinge, I would imagine).

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I know ASUS sell a crippled version...

...with Ubuntu pre-installed (or will sell), but if the touch screen worked I would seriously consider this. It has about the right specs at about the right price-point.

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FAIL

Photoshop Fail

Witness the hand touching screen of first image on page 2.

Either that's the hand of a very slim 3 year old, or that 11" laptop is in fact a 18" laptop...

Oh and there's the shadow and lighting issue...

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Meh

I'm so glad the reviewer tested it with Linux. I am looking for a device just like this, but I don't do Windows. I've been exclusively Linux now for nearly 10 years. To be honest, I just want a slim 11-12ish laptop that's slightly better performing than your average netbook. I'm not doing anything intensive so an i3 or similar is more than enough... This sounds right up my ally. I do not not really need the touchsceen, but I would hate to have it and not be able to use it.

Touchscreen support in Linux seems to be sorely lacking. I have a touchscreen monitor on my desktop that will not work in Linux, but I briefly tested it in Windows and it works fine there. I'm really hoping that this situation improves soon.

Troy.

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You must be able to find a similarly priced, higher spec. alternative if you don't bother with the touch screen. Surely?

Unless touch capability doesn't add as much to the price as I would guess.

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Re. Testing with Linux

Totally agree with Troy - even if the tester ins't a Linux geek it's nice to see that they make the effort to see how a major Linux distro runs on a system: thanks Alun!

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Anonymous Coward

5 tiles

One of the benefits of 1080p with Windows 8 is you get 5 rows of tiles in each column in the start screen rather than 3. Over twice as many tiles in all. I find this makes a big difference. Very apparent when you see a 756 and 1080 side by side in store so can imagine these low res devices will soon disappear once consumers see the obvious benefits of paying a few quid more for a more useful display. 11.6"/1080 may not be retina but makes for reasonable text quality.

Good to see a reasonably priced small multitouch notebook from ASUS all the same.

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Happy

Re: 5 tiles

5 rows of tiles is 5 rows too many when it comes to Win8...

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Re: 5 tiles

Interesting... I'm running at 2048x1152 and get 6 rows. Amazing the difference 72pix makes ;)

Still an unusable mess though. And I still can't believe the obvious 'press mouse button, drag' doesn't work on the start monstrosity. It's as if they sat down and brainstormed how to force people off their mice.

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Re: 5 tiles

I'd be interested in a "Win 8 Revisted" review in six months time, to see if by then any 3rd-party software developers have made anything to 'fix' Win8's UI for those who don't find it to their taste.

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Re: 5 tiles

Pressing the mouse button and dragging does work ........... that's how you move a tile.

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Re: 5 tiles

...but you can't move (scroll) the menu that way. That's counter intuitive by itself but as you point out it's also inconsistent!

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Anonymous Coward

USB ports?

Can anyone explain why USB ports aren't all USB 3.0 nowadays?

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Re: USB ports?

And can anyone explain why it doesn't have gigabit ethernet? How much extra would that cost?

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Re: USB ports?

>Can anyone explain why USB ports aren't all USB 3.0 nowadays?

Yes. You can't install Windows 7 from an external DVD-drive if its connected by USB 3. It will boot into the installer, since it reverts to a slow legacy standard, but when it wants to start copying files it will start asking for drivers.

The same is probably true of some other OSs as well. Note that this laptop does not have an in internal optical drive.

Also, most of what is connected to my computer doesn't require USB 3 - my mouse dongle, a cable for charging my phone, some USB speakers, keyboards, joysticks... and a good number of my USB memory sticks are too slow to benefit from USB 3 anyway.

Hope that helps!

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Anonymous Coward

Prints harming

How did the touchscreen look after a few screen touches? is it impossibly distracting to be looking though one's own greasy smudges?

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JDX
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Re: Prints harming

I worry about that too. On my iPad I noticed the screen is absolutely filthy when viewed from an angle, but all the smudges are totally invisible when viewed straight-on. With a laptop, you'd far more often find you were looking at the wrong angle, surely?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prints harming

No more a problem than with other devices I expect. I think iPad etc. started off with similar concerns from people who hadn't used them but most people find touchscreens aren't so bad when you get used to them. Unless you are working in a grubby environment, have unusually greasy fingertips etc.

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Re: Prints harming

I didn't find this to be a problem not least because I tended to touch the screen far less often than I would with a dedicated touchscreen device. After a week I gave the screen a good polish before sending it back to Asus but never felt the need to whip out the old lint-free cloth before that.

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Holmes

It looks like a MacBook Air

But I expect it's made of plastic.

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

Apart from it actually says it's made of alloy in the article.

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

No it doesn't and no it's not.

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

Yes it does and you are right it isn't.

Lawyer pantomime in 3...2...1...

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

just a quick question, did you actually read the story?

"The lid and keyboard deck are made of a metal alloy,"

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

Come on, anyone who thinks it doesnt needs to take their anti-Apple rose tinted glasses off. Pretty sure in the Asus design meeting... "how can can we design a MacBook Air look-a-like without it looking like it so we don't get sued".

There's your answer with a poor OS sitting on top of it.

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

It looks like a macbook air.

But I expect it will cost me half the price.

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

It'll fall to bits and break in half the time...

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Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

"It'll fall to bits and break in half the time..."

I paid £2k for my Powerbook and it fell to pieces within two years. My mum paid £400 for a Toshiba laptop and it lasted five years. I don't believe Apple make things to a higher durability spec than anybody else. The contrary, actually.

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Facepalm

Re: It looks like a MacBook Air

In other news: new thin and light Asus wing looks quite similar to the thin and light Apple MacWing Air in form follows function shocker.

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How does the wall of tiles get in the way? Does your wall of desktop icons get in the way too?

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@b166er

The "wall of desktop icons" can be arranged in the corner so they can be accessed without covering an application's window.

That said, it's the Start Menu that the stupid tile screen replaces, and that only covered a small amount of space in the corner so one could still see an open application (or applications on a bigger screen) when using it.

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Re: @b166er

I think in the long run users just will happily adapt to that wall of tiles. Because even in old Windows most people immediately maximize any window they come across and I have never heard of anyone thinking that the start menu is great just because you can flap it out and still see some windows. What for?

Like it or not, but arbitrarily overlapping and piled windows are something most people won't miss that bad or at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice job

Probably the right hardware recipe to do lots of real work on a touch-centric OS. Make it with a high-res screen (even 1440x900 would do) and I'd be tempted to buy one.

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I've just lost a long comment for some reason, but the point was that this makes full Windows 8 tablets look really expensive. Even Asus VivoTab seems to have a price in German Euros of £610 before VAT and that's a 2 GB RAM Atom machine. But according to my notes it has SSD and a Wacom pen touchscreen. However, I'm lusting after a Samsung Ativ Pro - retail price £1000.

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Lost Comment

I've been getting that of late on El Reg forums... the page changes and I see my draft comment in grey... as soon I click in the text box in an effort to copy it, it disappears. Sometimes it gets posted as a comment, sometimes it just disappears. I haven't been arsed to report it yet, but if it helps: Chrome version 23.0.1271.64 m, Win7 HP x64

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Re: Lost Comment

Chrome

I often notice this in Chrome but never in Firefox, although FF does sometimes hang for up to three seconds for absolutely no reason.

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By the way,

That looks to me like a keyboard squeezed towards the screen, so that your hands are closer to be able to touch. I mean, the spacebar is close to the screen.

Maybe you'd develop a technique of touch-with-knuckle while typing?

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Touchscreen laptops? Whats the point? A tablet needs a touchscreen, as its quite difficult to use a mouse while standing away from a desk, or sitting . But a laptop is used on a desk, so a mouse can be used. I really dont see why anyone would want a touchscreen on a laptop. What possible benfit is there?

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Except that this is a very light, very small and therefore very portable laptop that could be used almost anywhere. Using it exclusively on a desk would be a waste. I see no point in touch screens for desktops though.

A good machine for conferences, I'd say. You see MacBook Air users all over the place and this is very similar.

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Typing this in front of my laptop...

... I can see how that might be useful in meetings, presentations etc. A quick swipe to the screen may be more convenient than a mouse pad (or my favourite, the Lenovo style nipple - track pads are evil) or mouse button click when it is perched on your lap

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Anonymous Coward

Mike, I think you need to try multitouch before you dismiss it as pointless for notebooks. True in my experience its not a feature I use a lot for what I personally use my notebook for but times makes for a much more natural interaction. Just because you rarely need reverse gear doesn't make it any less convenient at times. I expect my next notebook will be a convertible anyway so point becomes moot. How quickly or how far multitouch becomes a must have feature is anyones guess.

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Kind of agree, but if there's not much penalty (power/weight), then why not?

I also think they could replace the touchpad and it's mouse buttons, with a 4" touchscreen that mimics the main screen as the input device.

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Actually quite useful

I bought myself an HP Envy TouchSmart 4 (because I'm that sort of weirdo).

What I found interesting was that my wife (who is decidedly non-techie) fell into a usage pattern where she was split between keyboard, touchpad and touchscreen VERY quickly. To be fair, I think she hates touchpads, and the wireless mouse wasn't attached, but she seemed pretty happy with the setup. She was generally using the screen for scrolling and clicking buttons (when they were large enough) and the touchpad for the rest.

I was surprised how much she did use the touchscreen, actually. I thought she was unlikely to go near it!

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Anonymous Coward

Replace the spinny disk with an SSD (Samsung 830 256GB for £130 for instance) and it shows just how much the cost of an Ultrabook is dictated by the overspecced Intel CPU (big surprise there). Not even gonna complain about the screen res... 1366x768 in an 11 inch machine is fair enough. But 10/100 ethernet? In 2012? Guess they didn't wanna spend the extra few cents to put in a gigabit one...

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I'd suggest to review Sony VAIO SVD11213CXB next time, that would me more interesting than ASUS-produced crap (as they told once on the tomshardware, ASUS-The-Economizer).

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Hmm

Tempting. Very tempting. Still needs

* better screen resolution

* somewhere to stick a sim, for connectivity

* different OS

But we are getting there.

As to linux, Mint 13 includes the KDE touch screen stuff, perhaps they have a driver? But thanks so much for testing it with Linux.

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