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Asus VivoBook X202E-BH91T-CB

  • Category: Notebook Computers

  • Review Date: 05/14/2013
  • Bottom line: With its tiny chassis, touch screen, and affordable price tag, the Asus VivoBook X202E-BH91T-CB gives users a decent alternative to ultrabooks and tablets, though it can't do much beyond daily computing tasks.
  • Pros: Thin, portable chassis. Touch display. Affordable. Full-size HDMI output.
  • Cons: Not a very strong performer.
Editor Rating: 3.50

By Ahmer Kazi

Users on the market for a portable computing solution are often forced to make a Hobbesian decision between pricey ultrabooks or tablets without physical keyboards. The Asus VivoBook X202E-BH91T-CB ($499.99 list CAD), available in Canada, attempts to hit the sweet spot by serving up a tiny Windows 8-equipped laptop that boasts a touchscreen, diminutive chassis, and—best of all—an affordable price tag. Make no mistake: the VivoBook X202E-BH91T-CB isn't designed to chug through intense applications. For anyone interested in a system capable of handling daily computing tasks without breaking the bank, though, it's a good choice.

Design and Features
The VivoBook X202E measures 0.9 by 12 by 7.9 inches (HWD) and, at a light 3.05 pounds, it can slip into your bag just as easily as a few magazines. Nearly every other system in its price range looks gargantuan when placed alongside the VivoBook X202E, like the HP Pavilion G6-2368CA (5.46 pounds). In addition to its compact size, the VivoBook X202E sports an attractive brushed aluminum finish whose two-tone finish tastefully blends a darker lid with a lighter silver body.

The VivoBook X202E's 11.6-inch display has a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768 and dishes out vibrant colors and clear text. Due to the system's touch screen, it has a rather wide black bezel around the screen. The black area is needed to provide an off-screen area for Windows 8 swipe gestures. While necessary, the black bars can be distracting if you were expecting a svelte notebook. The display's capacitive touch functionality is fluidly responsive and makes pinching, zooming, scrolling, and Windows 8-specific functions—like bringing up the Charms menu or swiping through open apps—feel intuitive after a short amount of time. Despite its tiny size, the VivoBook X202E's speakers belt out sounds at a surprisingly loud volume, and although bass is practically nonexistent, the speakers deserve credit for being able to fill a small room without sounding too tinny.

Although the VivoBook X202E's chiclet-styled keyboard exhibits somewhat shallow keystrokes and lacks backlighting, neither omission is glaring enough to detract from an otherwise comfortable typing experience. Moreover, the VivoBook X202E 's touchpad provides feels fluid and responsive, and its support of Windows 8 gesture controls nicely complements the system's touchscreen functionality.

A decent amount of ports are squeezed onto the VivoBook X202E's limited surface area, where they're evenly allocated between both sides of the chassis. The right side houses a VGA port, one of the system's two USB 2.0 ports, combined mic/headphone jack, and a memory card reader. On the left side you'll find the second USB 2.0 port alongside the system's only USB 3.0 port, an Ethernet port, Kensington lock slot, and a full-size HDMI port. The latter is particularly useful since it offers users temporary respite from the VivoBook X202E's tiny screen without having to mess around with dongles or cumbersome adapters.

The VivoBook X202E's 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive is smaller than similarly priced systems, and it ships with a moderate amount of preloaded software. Along with a dash of bloatware (desktop links to Skype and the like) alongside Office Starter 2010 and a thirty day trial to McAfee Internet Security, a large chunk of this software consists of proprietary programs (InstantConnect, Instant On, WebStorage Sync Agent, Tutor, Live Update, and so on). extraneous software is kept to a minimum. Asus covers the VivoBook X202E with a one year warranty on parts and labor.

Performance
Since its combined 1.5GHz Intel Pentium B987 CPU and 4GB RAM can hardly be considered the most robust duo in this price range, the VivoBook X202E predictably landed near the bottom of the pack when stacked against the competition. Its PCMark7 score of 1,589 points fell short of all others, save for the HP G6-2368CA (1,319 points). Similarly, its Cinebench R11.5 score of 0.86 point came within striking distance of other stragglers like the Pavilion G6-2368CA (1.13 points) and the HP Pavilion G6-2248CA (1.01 points) but still fell short of its peers by fairly sizable margins.

Since it's primarily geared toward light daily computing tasks, media creation isn't the VivoBook X202E's forte. It finished our Handbrake video-encoding test in 4 minutes 54 seconds, well behind the rest of the pack, including the HP Pavilion M6-1148CA (2:03) and the class-leading Lenovo IdeaPad N581 (1:27). Likewise, its glacial performance in our Photoshop CS6 benchmark (12:44) simply couldn't keep up with the pack, like the Acer Aspire V5-571P-6627 (7:36) or the Pavilion G6-2368CA (7:45).

The VivoBook X202E was unable to complete our 3DMark11 benchmark tests. Further, its integrated Intel GMA GPU unsurprisingly lacked the gusto to break the 30 frames per second (fps) playability barrier on either of our gaming benchmark tests.

Asus VivoBook X202E-BH91T-CB

The VivoBook X202E's non-removable 5136 mAh battery lasted 3 hours 55 minutes on our battery rundown test, which outlasted the Acer V5-571P-6627 (3:37) but fell short of the competition, including the class-leading HP G6-2248CA (4:49). Accordingly, if you intend on taking it on the road or café, be sure to think twice before leaving the power chord at home.

If you're on the market for a portable alternative to ultrabooks or tablets, the Asus VivoBook X202E-BH91T-CB is, for the most part, a good choice thanks to its touchscreen, diminutive chassis, and affordable price tag. It is, however, clearly designed to handle basic computing tasks, and users interested in anything beyond that should think twice before taking the plunge.

This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.