Physical keyboards aside, one of the main advantages convertibles have over regular tablets is that they offer better connectivity. Mind you, the tablet part of the Vivo Tab isn’t half bad on that front either.
On the left you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and MicroSDXC card slot that can be used to expand the tablet’s storage for media. On the right there’s a microHDMI jack to output video to a monitor or telly, while the tablet’s bottom houses the proprietary charging and docking port. Asus thoughtfully includes a USB adapter for this port in the box (unlike a certain fruity company we could mention).
Wireless is pretty well catered for too. There’s the inevitable Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4.0 combo, with NFC also included for wireless payments and linking (a feature both the Microsoft Surface and Apple iPad 4 lack). Unfortunately there is no 3G/4G version of the Vivo Tab (yet?), so here the Samsung Ativ Smart PC wins out.
Getting to the keyboard dock, naturally the charging port is replicated, and it also adds two full-size USB 2.0 ports - but no SD card reader, which is a shame since the Asus Transformer docks managed to cram one in, as does the HP Envy x2. This means you can’t transfer pics from your camera as easily, unless you use a microSD card with adapter there.
The Vivo Tab’s 11.6-inch size has given Asus plenty of room to put in a good keyboard, which was never the case on the 10-inch Transformers – though Logitech managed a brilliant keyboard in even less width with its Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, proving it’s certainly possible. In fact, we wish the likes of Asus and Acer would partner with Logitech to make their 10-inch convertibles a little nicer to type on…
Anyway, back to the real world, the Vivo Tab’s dock provides a generally nice typing experience. The Chiclet keyboard’s layout is spot-on despite the narrower US-style Enter key, and key feedback is good with plenty of travel, if not quite enough click. Our only real negative is that there’s no backlighting, but then rivals don’t offer this either.
The Vivo Tab’s touchpad uses most of the limited space available to it and is generally a pleasure to use. It’s responsive and its integrated buttons offer a positive click. Of course, on a touch-screen ‘laptop’ it’s hardly as important as on one where it’s the only mode of cursor navigation - but it’s nice to see Asus got it right here, especially in Windows 8’s desktop mode where buttons become too small to touch-click easily.
As tablets go, the Vivo Tab sports some pretty decent HD cameras. The front 2MP shooter is nothing to write home about but good enough for Skype, while the 8MP rear camera with F2.2 glass and LED flash takes above-average snaps by tablet standards.