ASUS R2H UMPC
- Excellent portability, good image reproduction, stylish looks, handwriting recognition works well
- Weak processor that cannot support intensive applications, movies and videos difficult to watch, no GPS software bundled, touch screen disables after intensive operations, screen resolution requires resetting every restart
This good-looking and portable unit has all the features of a great Ultra Mobile tablet PC, but nowhere near enough power to make it happen. With functionality issues like screen resolutions resetting every log-in and the touch screen disabling after intensive activities, the end result is a $1,699 toy for those who appreciate style and don't need power.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
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The ASUS R2H is an ambitious little unit which has a whole range of features packed in, but eventually it fails to work well due to poor memory and processing power. If you're willing to accept very basic functionality in exchange for excellent portability at a price tag of $1,699, then this may be the device for you.
Cosmetically, the R2H is very attractive and portable; weighing in at just 900g without its power supply. The brushed aluminium front panel matches the silver plastic backing nicely, giving the whole thing a very professional look. This wouldn't be out of place in any boardroom or briefcase.
The user interface is also very smooth, with a joystick on the top-right of the unit as well as left and right-click buttons on the top left. This allows a user hold the unit like a PlayStation Portable, with a palm on either end of the unit. A D-Pad allows for easy page navigation when Web-browsing or writing documents.
A fingerprint scanner is easily accessed on the left hand side of the device, and provides extra security. A 1.3-megapixel camera sits at the top of the R2H's screen to allow for easier conferencing when used with the in-built microphone and upright kick stand. The kick-stand allows the R2H to easily and stably sit up on a table.The speaker on the lower-left of the front panel produces a tinny sound, but this is common in this level of ultra portable device.
A USB-based double-layer DVD burner, a USB optical mouse and a USB folding keyboard with a proprietary connection and converter are bundled with the device. ASUS has also included a USB device that allows for the viewing and moving files between the R2H and another computer. A GPS receiver is also a standard feature, with an in-car charger included to facilitate use while driving. However, GPS software isn't included, so anyone who wishes to use this function must purchase their own software.
The camera's performance is sluggish due to the processing power, or lack thereof. Inside the R2H is an 1GHz Intel Pentium M processor with 1263MB of memory. Although the low processor specifications are understandable given the size and price of the device, the bundled features require more power to work effectively. In our iTunes test, where we convert 53 minutes of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3 files, the R2H took 5min 57seconds.
The Vista Business operating system installed is well suited to a tablet notebook, but it often struggled to perform with the R2H's limited resources. Trying to watch movies on either the bundled DVD drive or via the 60GB hard drive is difficult with visible stuttering occurring in both cases. Even right-click operations can take an agonising few seconds to show up. Our WorldBench 6 benchmarking software confirmed the sluggishness of the system – it scored only 20 in this benchmark. This score is about 50 per cent slower than what a unit with an Intel Core-based CPU can achieve – although you'll pay more for such a unit.
The touch-screen and hand-writing recognition system is fantastic, with even the most wretched handwriting being recognised by the software. Once aligned, the pen works quickly and effectively around the screen making life very easy for users on the go. The 7in screen is also quite good at displaying images, with vivid colours coming out well. Unfortunately, the screen's resolution had to be reset each time we booted up and despite reinstalling the system's software, we weren't able to get around this annoying quirk.
The low specification processor underperformed when we pushed the R2H with processor-intensive tasks such as watching films. The pen interface simply stopped working altogether and the unit required a restart to function properly.
Luckily, running basic office programs such as Microsoft Word seemed fine and Web browsing was a breeze, although the weak wireless antenna means that you'd need to be very close to a router or linked in via the Ethernet port for browsing to be effective. The multitude of connections, including Bluetooth 2.0, makes the unit quite versatile. Connections include two USB ports, a mini-USB port (a converter plug to USB is included), an SD card slot, AV out port, a headphone jack, microphone jack, Bluetooth 2.0, an Ethernet port capable of 10/100 speeds and 802.11a/b/g wireless.
At the end of the day we really wanted to give the R2H a better rating. It's a suave and comfortable device with a wide-range of features and a fantastic sense of style. Without a more powerful processor and more memory, however, it simply cannot deliver the power required to comfortably run the many tasks its feature set provides.
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