ASUS R1F Review from Sydney, Australia

Discussion in 'Asus' started by drdruish, Oct 6, 2006.

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  1. supernova

    supernova Pen Pal - Newbie

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    UPDATE - OCTOBER 6TH 2006 - ATTN: Readers please redirect yourselves to the full review here: http://www.tabletpcreview.com/default.asp?newsID=589 THANKS - TPR.com STAFF


    So here I am with my R1F, purchased a week ago and waited 1 week for supplier delivery, pretty fast for a notebook just released. And got AUD$400 off RRP - which is not unusual as many online stores have it advertised at similar prices. Why the price is already so low from RRP is beyond me - I simply asked the shop I went to to match the web prices. They were more than happy to oblige. I also got extra 1Gb of RAM at cost price (Kingston). I might as well note here now that the R1 is fitted with 2x512Mb RAM, so both availabe slots are already taken. This means if you want to have 2Gb of RAM you will need to buy 2 brand new RAMs and sell the 512Mb unless you have use for them elsewhere. I was lucky in that the shop I went to didn't charge me extra for swapping the two 512 modules for a single 1Gb module despite the fact that there would have been at least AUD$80 difference to pay (as 512Mb are significantly cheaper).

    I'll give my full, honest review cos I myself rely so much on reviews before purchasing. I am not an IT guy, just a regular guy so hopefully you can appreciate my comments.

    Mine is equipped with Core 2 Duo 2Ghz and 120Gb hard drive. Many sites with the specs say that TPMv1.2, bluetooth mouse, and carrying case are optional. Well when I opened the box I was delighted that all of them were included without me even asking for them or paying any extra costs. I was absolutely wrapped to find you also get a free carrying pouch on top of the bag.

    The wrapping presentation of the notebook is peculiar, in that it was pretty posh. When you open the box you will find a black presentation box, inside is the R1 inside the included carrying pouch. It's like something you receive from a jewellery store. The pouch and carrying bag were designed by stylists, far from your average black carrying cases. It is brownish-beige and has a retro look and feel, like something that came out of the 70s - but very stylish. They are trimmed by brown leather (the one on the pouch looks genuine). The bags alone if bought stand alone from a shop easily looks worth more than AUD$100 - based on the prices I've seen out there. It was a real surprise and the people at the shop were being cheeky and said it didn't really come with the laptop - they wanted to keep it for themselves cos they really are quite sexy.

    The main bag has a lot of pockets and is high above average for what you'd expect from a laptop bag in terms of functionality. I can't flaw it. The pouch has 2 pockets inside - one for the laptop and another for folders or papers. It is lined by felt material and looks nice and cosy for the laptop.

    The bluetooth mouse supplied is from Logitech and works really well. It's a silver/black colour that matches the colour of the R1. It fits the hand well. Only downside is that it's a high mouse on the palm - which is great for using since it makes the holding position very natural, but only a nuisance for the bag as it is thick. But then again it fits in the supplied bag quite easily and will only be a problem if you stuff many things in the bag (as I tried!).

    The power cable is average - I wish they would be more intuitive and make them compact.

    Now for the notebook...

    Firstly the screen - it is advertised with the fancy colour shine and crystal shine, etc. But what you can't forget is that this is a tablet. The screen is slightly grainy as with any other tablets. Don't expect this to reproduce ultra sharp pics. That said, I set the brightness and colour saturation as high and balanced as possible to offset the graininess, and it's quite good. I used to own the HP 7010 with an absolutely high resolution screen so I'm getting used to this. Being 1280x800 the real estate is medium (as its widescreen). Again, unlike my previous 15.4" widescreen, I'm adjusting to the smaller size. But it's very comfortable. Also noteworthy - the graininess is not the screen itself - it is the top layer waccom screen.

    The ASUS Splendid technology is great and really brings out the colour, all with easy setup.

    If I could remove the top layer of the screen with the tablet membrane, I can see the screen is very good. Bright and sharp. Only downside is the slight graininess which can't be avoided whatever tablet you get.

    The R1 is dark grey as you've seen in the pics, and made of plastic. Unfortunately it does look slightly cheap but that's against my high standards. The finish is very good so it's something that's more mental than anything else. It is visually sexy - far better than the Fujitsu and Toshiba tablets. It looks professional and high quality. I wouldn't hammer it though or drop it, I just don't know how strong it is. I suspect the weight of the tablet had everything to do with what material they used - even though they could have used titanium or magnesium, if it's not too much to ask!

    The only obvious metallic fittings are the mouse buttons and the surround of the fingerprint reader. They look superb.

    The LEDs of the notebook is very nice, using a predominantly brilliant-blue colour, and orange for battery recharge.

    The screen hinge looks and feels quite strong. Only problem is when the notebook is closed in the natural position the screen does not sit tight. Wobble it and it wobbles. Maybe they should have added additional tiny latches on the corners. Nevertheless it's a tablet, and tablets always need extra care. The rotation is to the left only (unlike the Fujitsu T4210). It rotates easily, sometimes scraping the keyboard but only if you are pressing softly on the top edge of the screen. Standing up, the screen wobbles slightly if you wobble it, but when opened in slate position feels quite secure.

    The keyboard has a short travel, but typing for the last 20mins, it's comfortable. No flex. Some keys are shortened such as the backspace key and right-side shift key, but these are things you can easily adapt to. No big deal. When you get a smaller size laptop you always need to be ready for compromises.

    All the buttons are robust and well fitted. The power button looks cheap in the pics, but in reality it's very sturdy and lights up the blue power symbol on it when on. It's nice.

    The panel buttons (CTRL.ALT.DEL, ESC, and Rotation) work easily and instantly.

    The DVD Multi is slightly noisy, but doesn't bother me. The slot loading is fast and really nice - I suspect as makers of Apple Notebooks they easily incorporated this. I'm still trying to determine if it supports LightScribe.

    The tablet pen is thin, stylish and lightweight - the only thing you'll hate is that it's made of plastic and the pen bay where it's kept is not smoothed out. So the effect is a very scratched pen after several inserts and outserts (made up word). When I say scratched, I mean scratched. Don't try to pick up a girl with this pen, it looks silly after all the scratches. But again, I don't mind because I suspect you can buy replacement pens easily just as it is with PDA stylus'. Why ASUS did not smooth out the edges inside the slot I don't know, and I doubt it's just my particular notebook.

    The ride of the pen on the screen when writing is smooth - the tablet edition XP is really good - recognises writing easily even if you can't read what you wrote!

    The touchpad is simple and flush, simple and elegant. It has no silly symbols or prints like with other brands.

    The inbuilt mic on the panel is very good - you will get slight hissing but this would be normal of all inbuilt mics. Otherwise it's clear and loud. I don't think it would match the dual-mic models of the say the Fujitsu T4210, but who cares. I don't really.

    The speaker is very average, but I'm comparing that with my previous laptop with a JBL fitted speakers - ultra sharp and ultra loud. But the one on this R1 is loud when you have all the right software settings in place, but otherwise quite average - no bass at all. The highs are sharp and distinct though. It's not an entertainment system so it meets normal expectations. Volume wise it is soft until you tweak with software settings - not too loud though as you'll start getting distortions.

    Laptop heat is not bad. Doesn't get hot at all really - just warm. And I suppose that's to be expected on a Core 2 Duo machine. The fan is also quiet and provides a gentle warmth on the left side during the cold winter days writing essays.

    Fingerprint reader is great. Works flawlessly though I had to take time to learn proper way to swipe finger.

    Not sure what else to write. The system speed is great. I don't think the OS is embedded, it does take a few seconds to load, but that's seconds, not minutes. It's great.

    The hard drive is split between 60Gb C Drive and 40Gb D Drive by default when you turn it on for the first time - so consider if this is what you want before installing, or else you might need to reformat. I have a 120Gb system and I never understand where the missing Gbs are even though I know they're in there somewhere.

    I'm also using the WiFi and it reads the signal well.

    Ok, if you want to ask anymore questions please do. My email is juncarlo@hotmail.com

    Edit 3 Oct 06:

    Hi guys

    I have no internet at home yet (waiting for delivery of my modem) so I had to wait until I got to work this Tue morning to see all your questions.

    Firstly, I apologise for all the little grammatical and spelling errors - really rushed typing the review.

    Anyway I have additional comments:

    Screen
    Having used the R1 quite extensively over the weekend, I have to say the screen is excellent. I did mention the graininess, but you adjust to it very quickly and they really are only slight. They're more noticeable against white backgrounds, as you don't get a pure flat white. But the colours really shine and the screen is backlit quite strongly. Stand about 1m from the screen and you definately won't notice the graininess and all you'll see is a very bright and brilliant screen. I played a couple of DVDs on it and they all look great. The black on this screen is really black - not like the ghosty blacks you get on some machines which really annoys me. Max resolution is 1280x800 but as I've said before, you have more than enough space if you're not using this for complex Excel work. Any smaller and the fonts would be difficult to read. It's interesting though that the default screensaver that came installed says the R1 has a 15.4" screen. Someone obviously didn't proof read it! The size of the screen is about A4 length wise, but about 1cm narrower than an A4. Carrying the R1 in slate mode is comfortable, you feel the weight but it's not heavy. If you swap the DVD Multi with the weight-saver drawer I'm sure it'll be satisfyingly light (though I haven't tried yet - and the weight-saver drawer comes in the package). The screen also rotates 360degrees. So if you were born with your head upside down you can actually have the screen upside down in normal laptop mode if you want.

    A few of you are really concerned about my comments about the wobble. I think I over-exaggerated it. It's not really a big concern. Because that screen is only held up by one centre hinge, it will move slightly side to side if you deliberately do so. But when you type, unless you're typing hard, it's not going to look like it's dancing. It sits still. On the other side of the screen is the hinge lock - I reckon ASUS could have made the lock more secure, as when locked in place, there's margins of movement, but only slightly. It's not tight. Bottom line is that in normal use, it won't wobble the way I think some of you are imagining. It's only when you deliberately rock the screen from it's natural positions that you will find slight movement. But I don't think it's a real cause for concern. Really, it hasn't bothered me even though I am a really picky guy.

    One more thing, there are so many settings you can tweak to get just the right colour, gamma, contrast, brightness on this screen that you won't have an issue finding the right level right for you. As I said before, the ASUS Splendid engine is a real gem. You can really see the difference when you turn it on and off.

    The pen
    The pen only has one button for clicking. You hardly need to use it (well I suppose I'm a novice), as you can tap on the screen anyway like tapping the touchpad. It's very easy and comfortable to use. There's even an "eraser" at the end of it to instantly erase things you write on the screen, which I thought was pretty cool. At first use I thought the pen and eraser would scratch the screen, but that's a stupid worry, because what manufacturer would create accessories that would damage their own products. If anything because this is a tablet screen I think it's much more resistant to scratching that normal notebook screens. Also, because it is not the glare type, you won't get annnoying reflections or easy to see fingerprint marks. Interestingly though, it is spec'd as having the crystal shine glare-type screen, but I believe that's underneath the waccom membrane that sits on top.

    Viewing angles
    Because of the depth of the actual screen (with waccom layer sitting on top), I estimate a comfortable viewing angle at about 160 degrees from centre. I don't think you'll get any tablet with better viewing angles simply because the screen will have to be deeper inside the screen shell to accomodate the tablet on top. Certainly not like other notebooks where the screen is flush to the casing and viewing angles can be as much as 175degrees. I do find that the vertical angles fade away the screen much quicker than the horizontal angles. This means you have to position the screen after you've found your right sitting position so that you won't get the fading effect. For those concerned, I will just say that after seeing the Toshiba and Fujitsu slate convertibles, this is one excellent screen that ASUS used.

    Size
    The tablet feels about the size of the 13" MacBook. That's why I like it so much, not too small, not too big. My last notebook was 15.4" and travelling wasn't as comfortable. I can also appreciate the smaller screen real estate because everything is comfortable to the eye, unlike the 15.4 where your eye doesn't rest as easily as you have a wider viewing screen to look at.

    As you'll also notice in the pics floating around, the underside of the notebook is tapered, which is really neat because it makes the notebook look thinner than it actually is. The notebook when closed is actually the same height as the mouse (3cm), but the tapered bottom makes it look thin. The silver lining around the notebook body and screen makes the notebook look really good, a nice touch.

    Speech recognition
    I just discovered last night that the XP tablet edition has a built-in speech software. This means you can dictate commands AND dictate text (it will type what you speak in Word or Notepad, etc!) It was pretty neat, and because the built-in mic is quite clear, it was really easy and fun to use, though you have to train the software to recognise your voice or else it makes up it's own story as you dictate to it.

    DVD Multi
    As I said, I'm still trying to work out if this thing supports LightScribe, as I came across an R1 webpage somewhere that it does. It is a Mat****a UJ-846S unit. I did say it was slightly noisy but it's not a scratchy noisy that annoys you. More like a whizzing sound. the slot-loader is very quick though - pops those CDs and DVDs out like a toaster!

    Keyboard
    Having typed on the keyboard heaps, I gotta say it is so comfortabel to use. I was worried about the short travel, but it was really good to use. The shortened keys on the right hand side will need getting used to, but it's otherwise a joy to type with.

    Hard disk
    Two issues here - I've defragmented the C drive twice and after each run I run the analyze again and it keeps saying I should defragment the drive (again). Not sure what's going on here. Not sure if it has to do with the split drive (C, D) but I defragmented D as well but still got same message.

    Anyway the biggest cause for concern I have is that I picked up the notebook and accidentally bumped it on the table when I placed it down again, and my music scratched (playing from hard drive) and the system froze. This system definately does not have IBM airbag technology so be careful. I simply reset the notebook (had to take battery out as power button was also dead). I'm not an expert in this area so I'm not sure if it's an issue with the notebook or the hard disk only.

    LEDs
    As I said there before there's a lot of brilliant blue LEDs on this machine, I wish they used white instead like Apple uses! A nice feature is that the blue power LED fades in and out when in standby mode - just like with the Apple. The LEDs on the screen are actually behind a transparent black strip (you can see this in the photos - the long thin strip running along the bottom of the screen), so the effect is a nice glow of blue underneath that strip of clear black pastic - or orange when the battery is being recharged.

    Battery
    I managed about 3.30hrs on the batteries in normal mode (no battery saving settings such as reduced CPU utilisation). If you want extended power I suggest getting the modular battery which I believe has not yet been released. I would guess it to extend battery usage to over 5hrs. The propriety ASUS power options (PowerGear4+) is so smart to use - you simply press the circle button on the top-right hand side and you switch to different usage modes - the Battery selection reduces screen brightness to 13% for example. It's so much easier than having to mouse through menus and settings to change the power options. And it works automatically - once I plug the power plug back in it reverts to my previous non-battery option (Super Performance) - and the screen instantly lights up to 100% again.

    Fingerprint reader
    Just one additional comment on this - you can use your fingerprint to log in from BIOS. It just works is my motto for the fingerprint reader. It intially scans ALL your fingers both left and right, so should you accidentally lose one finger one day, you can rely on your other fingers to log you in. It's fast and intuitive. I've used it so far for BIOS login, Windows login, Hotmail login, and Tablet PC Review login! I think the R1 likes my fingers!

    Fingerprints and marks
    This might be unusual to note but I will anyway... The keyboard looks to be the type that will show oil staining easily after prolonged use - I don't know many keyboards that avoid this. I already notice slight oiling marks on the letter N which I use a lot. The casing and screen are a lot more resistant. You will see fingerprint marks under the right lighting, but they wipe off easily as the surface is smooth. The notebook comes supplied with a microfibre cloth and cleaning was easy. I few spatters on the screen a few times when I played with the speech recognition wiped off easily with a really small amoutn of water and the microfibre cloth. And no streaking.

    Speakers
    I've already described the non-bass speakers on this machine, and it really is quite average. I'm thinking of swapping over my JBL speakers from my old laptop into this (they look the same size) but have no idea how to do it (simple soldering procedure??) OK that sounds mighty dangerous so I might as ASUS if they're willing to do it for me. One good thing about the notebook design is that in slate mode the speakers are not completely covered, which means a decent amount of sound is still coming out. You can see this in the pictures - unlike the Toshiba models where the speakers are completely covered by the screen.

    Pictures
    Sorry guys I have no digital camera hence no pics - but I might borrow my brothers. I know you all want to see... give me a day or two.

    Quick summary:
    I've mentioned a lot of good things about the R1, because it really is great - it's a quality machine inside and out. So I'll only mention the cons - which for me is the scratch-easily tablet pen (because of the pen-slot not being smooth on the inside), the plastic notebook casing (I wish it was metal!), and the non-airbag fitted harddrive (such as the IBM X-tablet). Other than that guys, if you want the best tablet PC cheaper than other like brands, the R1 is the cream of the crop. The Fujitsu T4210 has a smaller screen, doesn't have a sharp design and is more expensive, and the Toshiba R25 looks boring, is heavy and looks boring. They were my 3 contenders. ASUS R1 can be proudly named Ms Universe of tablet PCs (for now).

    Pics:


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    (see the scratched pen above!)

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    (btw, the bag does have a shoulder strap)

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    Screen wobble vid 1 (800K):

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    Screen wobble vid 2 (3Mb):
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    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2015
  2. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Thank you supernova.
    This is a promising start for this tablet.

    I not it is now available in the UK from ASUSnotebooks.co.uk for £1220.18, although it is the 1.83GHz model and the slightly lower 100GB model.

    Had this tablet been available a month earlier and i may have ordered one of this myself.
    As it stands it looks like I will wait now until January before seeking further information.
     
  3. NJS

    NJS Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Nice review!

    Could you make some photos and post them? That would be nice! :D

    Thanks
     
  4. alphaswift

    alphaswift Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Nice review, but as they say, this thread is useless without pics! :D

    EDIT: Any comments on tablet writing? Pressure sensitivity and behviour of the pen writing near the edges? Is the wobble of the screen something you may worry about? Is the plastic finish something like the Compaq V3000-series? If you were watching a movie using the DVD player, would the noise be loud enough to bother you?
     
  5. Loaf.

    Loaf. Scribbler - Standard Member

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    its a shame here in the states we seem to be getting a rather lamed up version.
    other than microsoft windows tablet edition, what other software came with it? any screen protectors?
     
  6. Fido

    Fido Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Wow, this sounds really great!
    How long does the battery last?

    Also, Loaf, what do you mean the US gets a worse version?

    And, Supernova, you mentioned missing hard drive space. This is because the advertised capacity uses a 1000 to one conversion factor when going from B->KB->MB->GB and the computer actually uses a 1024 to one conversion factor. It doesn't make a big difference in bytes kilobytes and megabytes but by the time you get to gigabytes it adds up alot.
     
  7. Loaf.

    Loaf. Scribbler - Standard Member

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    well his model has the 2ghz core2 and a 120gb hard drive, the UK has a 1.83ghz and 100gb hard drive, and finally the US gets a 1.6ghz and 80gb hard drive. personally i can live with an 80gb hard drive but i would've liked having the 1.83ghz.

    i'm also curious on the battery life, and does anyone know when the modular batteries will be available? and does anyone know if the screen is covered under asus' warranty? because most other tablet pc makers usually have a separate warranty for the screen as it is the most expensive component to replace.
     
  8. Fido

    Fido Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I thought the CPU and HD would be customizeable, or dependant on the dealer.
     
  9. Loaf.

    Loaf. Scribbler - Standard Member

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    it's an ensemble unit (at least in the US it is) which generally means that changing the cpu will void the asus warranty, most of the time hard drives and ram can be changed without voiding the warranty as long as you put the original parts back in if u ever send it in for warranty stuff. so, if you wanted to customize anything then the warranty would have to be between the reseller and you.
     
  10. regurgi

    regurgi Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks for the review supernova!

    How are the viewing angles on the screen...are the vertical angles much less than the horizontal angles? (I guess the screen is probably like the 13" MacBook screen)
     
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