Asus Vivobook S200E-C157H review

Pros

  • Thin, portable chassis
  • Equipped with a touchscreen
  • Nicely priced
  • Full-size HDMI output

Cons

  • Not a very strong performer

Those who are looking for a portable computing solution are often forced to choose between pricey Ultrabooks or tablets without physical keyboards. The Asus VivoBook S200E-C157H attempts to hit a budget sweet spot by serving up a tiny Windows 8-equipped laptop that boasts a touchscreen, diminutive chassis, and – best of all – a very affordable price tag of £350. Make no mistake, however – this VivoBook 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 S200E measures 303 x 200 x 22mm (WxDxH), and weighing a touch under 1.4kg, 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 S200E. In addition to its compact size, the VivoBook S200E sports an attractive brushed aluminium finish, with a two-tone effect that tastefully blends a darker lid with a lighter silver body.

The VivoBook S200E's 11.6in display has a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 and dishes out vibrant colours and clear text. Due to the system's touchscreen, 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 S200E's speakers belt sound out at a surprisingly loud volume, and although bass is practically non-existent, the speakers deserve credit for being able to fill a small room without sounding too tinny.

Although the VivoBook S200E'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 S200E's touchpad 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 S200E'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, a 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 S200E's tiny screen without having to mess around with dongles or cumbersome adapters.

The VivoBook S200E's 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive is smaller than similarly priced systems, and it ships with a moderate amount of preloaded software. Asus covers the VivoBook S200E with a one year warranty on parts and labour.

Performance

The S200E is powered by a 1.5GHz Intel Pentium B987 CPU backed up with 4GB of RAM, and that combination is hardly the most robust duo the laptop world has ever seen – and its performance numbers reflected this. The laptop’s PCMark7 score came in at 1,589 points, and it managed a Cinebench R11.5 score of 0.86, none too impressive.

Since it's primarily geared towards light daily computing tasks, media creation isn't the VivoBook S200E's forte. It finished our Handbrake video encoding test in 4 minutes and 54 seconds. Likewise, it produced a positively glacial performance in our Photoshop CS6 benchmark, taking 12 minutes and 44 seconds.

The VivoBook S200E was unable to complete our 3DMark11 benchmark tests. Furthermore, its integrated Intel GMA GPU unsurprisingly lacked the gusto to break the 30 frames per second playability barrier on either of our gaming benchmark tests.

The VivoBook S200E's non-removable 5136 mAh battery lasted for 3 hours and 55 minutes on our battery rundown test, which wasn’t a good result, either. Accordingly, if you intend on taking it on the road or to the café, be sure to think twice before leaving the power cord at home.

Verdict

If you're searching for a portable alternative to Ultrabooks or tablets, the Asus VivoBook S200E-C157H 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 only, and users interested in anything beyond that should think twice before taking the plunge (and perhaps should look at the slightly more expensive Core i3-equipped S200E, which weighs in at around £400).

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Asus Vivobook S200E-C157H

Processor Name

Intel Pentium B987

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 8

Weight

1.4kg

Graphics Card

Intel GMA HD

Screen Type

Widescreen

Touchscreen

Yes

RAM

4GB

Networking Options

802.11n

Processor Speed

1.5GHz

Screen Size

11.6in

Storage Capacity (as Tested)

500GB