If you've been looking for atablet, but don't want to be restricted to the limited number of apps available in the Windows store, the Asus VivoTab Smart might be for you.
It's running on the full version of Windows 8 allowing you to install any software you want to download such as Spotify or iTunes. It's running on an Intel Atom processor, which keeps the basics ticking along well enough and can be bought for the reasonable price of £395.
Should I buy the Asus VivoTab Smart?
Unlike most devices running the full version of Windows 8, the Smart comes in a standard tablet form, rather than a convertible that turns from a tablet into a laptop.
The screen's resolution isn't great, so the lovers of super-crisp photos among you should look towards the iPad with its retina display. It has good colours though making it perfect for watching TV shows on.
It's running on a low-powered Intel Atom processor, which provides enough power for the basics. Web browsing and social networking are fine, but more intense tasks like photo editing are a chore.
If power is your main concern then your money can be better spent on a standard laptop with a more potent processor. If you specifically want a Windows 8 slate for some swiping fun then the Smart is a great option and you don't need to worry about what software you can't get from the shop.
Design and build quality
In terms of its design, the Smart is most easily described as a cheaper iPad. The back is home to a large expanse of black plastic that curves neatly at the edges, in a very similar style as the metal casing of Apple's slate. There are pin-prick-sized holes at the bottom for the speaker and the Asus logo sits bang in the middle.
As it's made of plastic, it immediately feels significantly less expensive than the iPad though. Give it a squeeze in the middle and you'll sense a bit of flex, which isn't something the iPad will give you. Its almost featureless back is pretty unremarkable although not exactly ugly and the all-glass front is straight from the design sheet of most other tablets out there.
Unlike the iPad, the Smart is designed to be used mostly in landscape mode, so you'll find the camera on the back at the top in the middle and the Windows home button on the bottom long edge. It's 265mm wide, 171mm long and 9.7mm thick, making it slightly smaller than the iPad, but a tiny amount thicker. You certainly won't struggle to get it into a bag.
Build quality seems fair too. No, it's not metal, but the plastic casing seems quite sturdy and there's no loose panelling like I found on
Around the edges you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro-USB port (for charging and data transfer) and a micro-HDMI port, hidden behind an incredibly awkward to remove little stopper. You also get a microSD card slot, allowing you to expand the 64GB of internal storage.
The Smart will be available with a keyboard cover that's remarkably similar to the Microsoft Surface's touch cover. It's got proper keys rather than touch-sensitive ones so it should be much more comfortable to type on that just using the screen. Annoyingly, Asus didn't have any available for me to test so I'll have to reserve my judgement on that.
Even more annoying is that the keyboard costs £90, which is rather pricey for what is essentially just a Bluetooth keyboard.