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Despite the Asus VivoTab ME400 featuring the very latest Clover Trail generation dual-core 1.8GHz processor, it's immediately and sadly noticeable that performance can seem a little slow, especially if you have a few desktop apps running. Atom is not a performance processor at present, and for gaming you can only play mobile-style Windows 8 game apps rather than desktop games.
The Atom processor is able to be passively cooled, so you don't get any annoying fans or grilles like you'd find on a device powered by an Intel Core processor. That's not to say those devices would necessarily be noisy, but it does mean this small form factor can be used.
Graphics power is lacking across the board, with the PowerVR SGX545 chip really lacking any kind of punch. Benchmarks barely registered, and 3D tasks are beyond it. This is a shame, since while basic image editing can be achieved, it's about the limit of what is capable. Even some desktop apps can't run, since the graphics simply aren't powerful enough, though these are rare and would require a reasonably powerful laptop to run anyway.
The processor and graphics are, however, adequate for most general use – browsing and word processing are no problem, for example. The graphics can also accelerate even Full HD video on an external display while web video, such as that from iPlayer, works without issue.
Aside from the processor and graphics, the remainder of the specification on offer is staggering, while the whole package remains excellent for the money.
Battery life should always be a major consideration when buying a tablet, and it's one of the reasons why Intel believes Atom-based Windows 8 devices will do well. A 25Wh lithium polymer battery is used here.
Asus cites 9.5 hours of battery life, but it is possible to get more if you turn everything off, such as the Wi-Fi. However, for practical use you can get around seven to eight hours and at very peak performance spooling HD video we got around 3.5 hours, which still means that the Asus VivoTab ME400 will last a train journey or more. Or pretty much all of a 10 hour flight, especially as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will be off.
It does seem strange not to turn a Windows 8 device off as you would with a conventional PC, but you do get used to it quite quickly, and soon we found we were using the tablet just as we would an iPad or phone. There's no way to really par down the device to save power, but it's quite refreshing not to have to nurse a Windows device through different power saving modes.
You get very little inside the box, just a charger, cleaning cloth and a few leaflets, but a year's warranty is included.