Review: ASUS VivoBook F202E
One of the most affordable Windows 8 laptops with a touchscreen, and it's quite portable too.
Lightweight; Slim and elegant design; Good connectivity options; Priced well.
Battery life could have been better; Bad viewing angles and reflective screen.
ASUS VivoBook F202E
MRP: Rs 40,000
With the announcement of Windows 8, ASUS has launched the VivoBook range of thin and light laptops with touchscreens to make use of the OS's touch-based UI. The VivoBook F202E is one of the thinner and lighter models with an 11.6" screen, with a 500 GB hard drive, and powered by an Intel Core i3 CPU. Additionally, it also comes with SonicMaster audio processing that claims to produce richer sound with deeper bass and powerful output. Let's see if the device is actually as good as it claims to be.
Build And Features
The dark slate coloured lid has a brushed metal finish that is smooth to touch and doesn't catch fingerprints or smudges. On opening the lid, the area around the keyboard has a lighter shade but with a similar metallic finish. The lid opens around 120 degrees, which is sufficient for comfortable operation. There is one long rigid hinge near the centre, rather than the usual two hinges. The overall build quality seems to be good. The size is quite small and weight is also not much, thus making it easy to carry around.
The 11.6" HD screen has pixel dimensions of 1366x768. The screen is very glossy and easily catches fingerprints and smudges. The bezels are around 1" thick on all sides, making it comfortable to be used for the edge controls of Windows 8 touch UI. It is very evident that the bezel design lacks a finesse that we have got accustomed to with other devices we have tested thus far or even when considering the stylish exterior of this device itself. Unlike tablets, there is no Windows button at the bottom of the screen.
The keyboard present in a slight depression is smaller than a full-sized keyboard and has island type keys that are not backlit. The palm rest is made of lustrous aluminium and the large touchpad is situated dead centre, right under the spacebar. LED indicators are present near the front left of the laptop.
A memory card reader, USB 2.0 port with Power Share (ability to charge devices even when the laptop is switched off), headphone/microphone combo 3.5 mm socket, and a VGA port to connect analogue display devices, are the ports present on the right of the laptop.
The left of the laptop has the power socket, followed by Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI-out, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 (both with Power Share), and a Kensington lock.
There are ventilation grills on the bottom plate. Four rubber feet near the four corners keep the laptop grounded on a flat surface. Stereo speaker grills are present on either side near the front. The in-built battery is not detachable, hence cannot be replaced by users. There is no option to connect an additional slice battery.
The laptop is powered by a dual-core HyperThreaded Intel Core i3-3217U CPU with a default clock speed of 1.8 GHz, but it doesn't support Turbo Boost, so this is the maximum clock speed at which the CPU operates. It has 4 GB of DDR3 RAM and there is a 500 GB hard drive. Intel HD Graphics 4000 takes care of the graphics department, so you can expect good multimedia performance, although you shouldn't expect anything more than casual gaming.
In addition to Windows 8 Professional 64-bit, there is also a trial version of MS Office. However, you will have to purchase one or settle for a freeware alternative if you want to use office applications. McAfee Internet Security protects against online threats.
The F202E powers up to the home screen in just 15 seconds. This is very good, considering that this laptop has just a normal hard drive instead of a combination of HDD and SSD. The performance is decent, but it does seem to get somewhat adversely affected while multitasking (such as having several browser tabs open and a photo editing software running at the same time) with the antivirus running in the background.
The screen is very reflective and makes it difficult to view the content. The colours are good, but the screen isn't bright enough even at the brightest level. The viewing angles are bad with discolouration appearing even at 45 degrees. The touch response is quite good and we have no complaints in that department.
The keyboard is somewhat smaller than normal-sized keyboards with the keys being spaced nearer to each other. This may make it a little difficult to type for long duration if you have large hands. The arrow buttons are rather tiny and may be difficult to manoeuvre. The generous sized touchpad is good to use with its matte finish. The ample palm rests on either side allows some reprieve to your hands while typing.
1080p movies played well regardless of bitrate and there wasn't any stutter at any point of time. Speakers sound rather loud for the size and you can comfortably watch movies or voice chat (as long as your privacy is not at stake) without using a headset. The audio is reasonably clear and although the bass is weak, it is better than most laptop speakers we have come across. The SonicMaster Audio technology does seem to be working.
The ventilation grills at the bottom help keep the laptop running cool.
We ran a few synthetic benchmarks to find out how the F202E performs.
Windows Experience Index
PCMark 7 score
The benchmark results indicate clearly that the F202E also performs as well as it looks.
We measured the battery life by Battery Eater Pro and by actually using the laptop with the Balanced power scheme of Windows 8. The two tests that run in Battery Eater Pro utility are the Reader's test which simulates real-world reading scenario, while the Classic test uses OpenGL rendering to simulate heavy usage such as gaming.
We were a little disappointed by the battery backup of just over two hours when using the Classic test, while it worked for 4 hours 15 minutes in the Reader's test. In normal usage that involves using office applications, surfing the internet, occasional music and video, and watching some YouTube clips, the battery lasted for a little under 3.5 hours. All in all, the battery life is disappointing for a device that has a power-efficient Core i3 CPU and 11.6" monitor that is not Full HD.
The ASUS VivoBook F202E is a stylish notebook that is very light and compact, making it very easy to carry around. The Core i3 CPU and 4 GB RAM ensures swift operations most of the times and it is certainly remarkably faster than Atom-based notebooks. The speakers sound loud and clear and the laptop can easily crunch 1080p movies, although the screen supports 720p native display. The screen is quite responsive to touch inputs, but it is too dim and very reflective, making it difficult to view in bright environments. The battery power is also not the best, considering the low power components. However, considering that it is priced rather well at Rs 40,000 and that it comes bundled with Windows 8 Pro, this laptop can be termed as a good buy. It is also one of the most affordable Windows 8 laptops with a touchscreen.
Build And Design: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
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