Considering all the features you get for the price, which is affordable at around $1,500, it is hard to pass up on the Asus R1F if you’re looking for a notebook with the added Tablet PC functionality. It features good performance with its Core 2 Duo processor and ample storage with up to a 120GB hard drive. It’s not too heavy or too big to take on trips or hold while standing for awhile. If you use the Splendid Video Technology movies look great, despite some graininess due to the Wacom screen layer. The plastic housing is a little cheap feeling, but the R1F is still durable. The plastic housing helps keep the cost and weight down as well. I enjoyed the R1F in both notebook and Tablet mode, nothing beats writing on the screen especially when you are in a hurry. The screen can double as one big post-it-note and the R1F definitely helped keep me organized.
Asus R1F Tablet PC / Notebook convertible (view large image)
Following are the specs for the Asus R1F as reviewed:
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 (1.66GHz)|
Design and Build
The R1F isn’t as small as some other Tablets on the market such as Fujitsu’s T4215, but it still is certainly still portable. Weighing in at 4.3 lbs, the R1F can go where ever you need to go. The 13.3″ screen makes reading documents and viewing photographs pleasurable, you can fit a decent amount on the screen and the XGA resolution makes for easy reading.
The Asus R1 has a solid build and keyboard. It feels sturdy in your hands, with minimal flex. The screen swivels with ease for a 180 degree view, which comes in handy when you don’t want the keyboard or want to show someone across a table what’s on your screen. Being able to write directly on the screen and convert your writing to text brings back that personal aspect — maybe even gives you a bit of practice with handwriting (in case you’d forgotten how to do that now that we type so much these days).
From first glance it is hard to tell that the R1F functions as a Tablet as well as a notebook until you notice its center hinge. It has a professional appearance, great for the office or school. The graphite colored lid extends to the inside surrounding the black keyboard keeping the R1F classy, but not to flashy. On the downside, the the R1F’s casing is made of plastic instead of metal, which kind of gives it a cheap feel.
A look around the R1F
These are the accessories the R1F came with including a wireless mouse. The R1F was packed so plush you would have thought is was fine china. The portfolio fits the Tablet like a glove for quick traveling and the bag is durable and roomy enough to hold your cell phone, wallet and files.(view large image)
The center hinge converts the R1F into Tablet mode. (view large image)
Underside view of R1F (view large image)
The screen itself is nice and scratch resistant, as much as it can be. It is slightly grainy, but that is due to the extra layer on the screen and you’ll get that with any other tablet. Don’t expect the R1F to produce crisp flawless images, but like I said earlier, it is not made to be an entertainment center. However, the Asus Splendid technology that allows you to adjust screen colorization is great and really brings out the color, especially when watching movies. I set the brightness and color saturation as high and balanced as possible to offset the graininess and it works well. The graininess is more noticeable against white backgrounds compared to colored ones. Though a white screen does not appear as pure white (there’s a slight greyishness), other colors do shine and the screen is backlit very well. Black colors on the screen appear sharp and if you stand away from the screen a little bit you won’t even notice the graininess. My eyes are used to the screens display and I don’t notice the graininess anymore, just the bright colors.
The R1F is easy to carry in Tablet mode, though a bit heavier than others at about 4.5 lbs, it is still portable. The screen still looks great and you can change the orientation for better viewing. The center hinge also helps for better viewing because it of course allows for twisting to align for the best viewing angle to onlookers, perfect for presentations. The 13.3″ screen is a good size for traveling because it is small enough to take on the go, but big enough to read those important documents or watch a movie on without straining your eyes. Asus includes a nice cloth in with the accessories for safe and easy cleaning of the screen and keyboard.
The speakers are average, but I’m comparing them to my Compaq laptop fitted with JBL speakers, which are loud and clear. The R1F is loud when you have all the right software settings in place, but not something I would listen to my music on. It’s not made to be an entertainment system though, so it meets normal expectations. One good thing about the notebook design is that in slate mode the speakers are not completely covered, so a decent amount of sound still comes out.
The keyboard’s keys are solid and it has no flex. It is easy to type on because it is of standard size. There are only a few keys that are shortened including the right side Shift key and the Backspace key, but this doesn’t create any problems. I did notice if you are a fast typer then you have to make sure to completely press down on each key because just tapping them will not work. The built-in microphone worked well for the most part. It was clear and fun to use, once you teach the software to recognize your voice. It can be used to record things too like memos or a teacher’s lecture.
I like the touch pad on the R1F because it’s not anything fancy. Just your standard touchpad, which works great. It’s simple to use, fast and smooth, no sticking. The touchpad works as well as the mouse in my opinion, but I am used to working on it. For all you mouse fans though, the Bluetooth mouse works fine after you do the easy, step-by-step install.
Working with a pen is the whole point of a Tablet and I don’t think I will ever buy anything besides a Tablet again. This feature alone makes it stand out from your typical notebook. The pen is lightweight, easy to write with and works flawlessly on the screen. It comes in handy when taking notes or adjusting your calendar. It even has an eraser in case you make a mistake. The only bad thing is the pen is made of plastic and it feels cheap and flimsy. It also gets scratched pretty bad in the silo. I would much rather have a metal pen, I mean you are taking the pen in and out all the time, so something a little more durable would be better.
Tablet PC Buttons
A series of hot keys are available for instant launch of entertainment, connection, power management and color adjustment applications. These buttons are located at the top of the keyboard. There is even a button to change the screen’s orientation for use when in Tablet mode. The keys are easy to access while keeping the keyboard area distraction free.
Processor and System Performance Benchmarks
The R1F model I reviewed had the Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 (1.66GHz) processor. The R1F provides enhanced responsiveness to enjoy audio and video playback and recording, instant messaging and web-browsing simultaneously on your Tablet. In other words, the dual-core performance helps in general types of multi-tasking you’ll do on a PC.
Below are some benchmarks we ran on the Asus R1 to give a general idea of performance, and how it stacks up.
In the below results of Super Pi, where Pi is calculated to 2 million digits of accuracy, you can see the R1F processor performs well:
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo)||1m 24s|
|IBM ThinkPad X41t (1.50 GHz LV Pentium M)||2m 02s|
|Dell Latitude D410 (2.00 GHz Pentium M)||1m 36s|
|HP TC4400 Tablet PC (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 13s|
|Dell Latitude X1 (1.1 GHz ULV Pentium M)||2m 40s|
|Dell Latitude D420 (1.06GHz Core Solo ULV )||2m 11s|
|Toshiba Portege M400 (1.83GHz Core Duo )||1m 19s|
Another synthetic benchmark we use is Futuremark’s PCMark 05. This is a good general measure of system performance. The R1F got a respectable though not great score of 2,724:
|Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo)||2,860 PCMarks|
|LG R1 (1.86GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel graphics)||2,855 PCMarks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
|Panasonic ToughBook T4 (Intel 1.20GHz LV)||1,390 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400)||3,646 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo)||3,427 PCMarks|
Using “HD Tune” we tested the R1F’s 80GB 5400RPM hard disk read and write access benchmarks.
The graph shows that the hard disk starts at its maximum speed and slows down towards the end of the test. The couple downward spikes in the graph are not a problem, they show that another application or Windows was accessing the hard disk during the test.
The battery lasted about 3 hours for me when in normal power setting mode. Asus offers different battery settings like quiet office and high performance via the Geared. However high and super performance is mostly used when the R1 is plugged in. If you need to save battery power on the go you can adjust the brightness or use the quiet office setting. It only takes around an hour to fully charge, so the R1F lasts long enough to do work on for a few hours and then recharge while at lunch.
Heat and Noise
I had no problems with the R1F getting hot under normal conditions, in fact it barely produced enough heat to warm your hands on a cold day. The R1F runs quietly except for the DVD/CD drive, which makes noise when it is spinning a disc, but this is normal for all notebooks. When the system is running benchmarks or under intensive use the left side vent will generate quite a bit of heat and the fan will kick in making some noise.
The R1F has an array of ports that you would expect to find on a Tablet of its caliber. It has one Express Card slot, one VGA port, one headphone-out jack (SPDIF), one microphone-in jack, one RJ11 Modem jack for phone line, one RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert, three USB 2.0 ports, one TV-Out and one fingerprint reader. The TV-Out is neat because this allows for the R1 to connect to a TV. It also has an 8x DVD/RW Super Multi optical drive, which is swappable. The headphone and microphone jack being at the back is a pain when in notebook mode, but aside from that the port layout is pretty good.
Power switch (at the back) Express Card and heat vent located on the left side (view large image)
The DVD drive and SD, MMC card slot located on the right side (view large image)
The Ethernet port and modem port, microphone and headphone jack located on the back (view large image)
There are three USB ports located on the back side (view large image)
I enjoyed using the fingerprint reader once I learned the proper way to swipe my finger. It works perfectly every time. Talk about added security, it’s like being in the FBI. You can use your fingerprint to log in from BIOS. The reader scans all your fingers from both hands, so should you accidentally lose a finger one day, you can rely on your other fingers to log you in. Hopefully that won’t ever happen though. The R1F also has the normal password protection settings just like any other notebook.
The R1F runs Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC edition, but it is Windows Vista capable for those who want to upgrade. My unit did not come with Microsoft Office suite, which would include Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint, Access and OneNote. These are options you can have included though. The other software programs came pre-installed and were just the basics.
There’s a bunch of Asus utilities built into the system as well as the ubiquitous Norton. The Asus Power4 Gear utility allows you to adjust performance and power settings while the Splendid application allows you to adjust color settings for the best picture based on what you’re doing and what your preferences are.
The R1F has an integrated V.92 MDC Fax/Modem and built in 802.11 a/b/g, which functions as expected. It also has built-in Bluetooth, which can be used with the Bluetooth mouse. Signal strength and range were good in all the areas I tested the Tablet.
The R1F in Tablet mode.(view large image
- It is affordable, for all the features
- Great packaging and accessories included
- Love the Core 2 Duo processor
- Good display
- Hot swappable ODD/ Super Multi Optical Drive
- Plastic pen gets scratched in silo
- The battery doesn’t last as long as smaller Tablets.
- The plastic housing makes it feel cheap