This has gone on long enough and I will no longer remain silent. I urge that companies stop putting Pentium processors in mid-range computers immediately.
Look, I understand the argument. Not everyone needs a Threadripper. Not everyone needs a Core i7. Some people just want one device for their nightly YouTube viewing. Some people just want a Twitter machine. You can save a lot of money — and possibly afford a nicer build, a nicer screen, and fancier features — by choosing a cheaper chip.
That’s all well and good if you’re in this group. But nobody – and I mean really nobody – should spend more than a few hundred dollars on a single device. Because a $360 Chromebook duo can easily surf the web. The advantage of a Windows laptop over these devices, apart from the larger screen, is that the Windows operating system can handle multitasking and working better. It supports more powerful programs, can better manage application windows and files, and has more processing power to perform a variety of tasks simultaneously. So, for example, if you’re paying over $800 for a device that only has one window open at a time, you’re doing something wrong.
This is exactly why Asus is priced at $899 Vivobook 13 Slate OLED Steven Harrington Edition (yes, that’s the full name) is one of the coolest, but also most confusing, computers I’ve reviewed this year. Asus made it in collaboration with an LA-based artist Steven Harington (not to be confused with the character Steve Harrington on stranger things)and it looks incredibly cool with a brilliant OLED screen.
It also includes a Pentium processor. This Pentium processor works. But it mostly works if you have one thing open at a time.
HOW WE EVALUATE AND REVIEW PRODUCTS
It looks like a dream
The VivoBook 13 Slate Steven Harrington Edition is a 13.3-inch OLED tablet (already an atypical combination). It’s one of two limited-edition Slate OLED models released this year in collaboration with well-known artists. (London’s Philip Colbert also has one.) According to Asus promotional material, the models are intended to “represent the artist’s unique world view”.
I would say the Steven Harrington Edition is a success. It looks amazing in a word. The cover stand (magnetic, detachable, and capable of supporting the device in both portrait and landscape orientations, although you may see screen shake when using the stylus at certain angles) features cartoon dogs, trees, planets, and the like covered, including some of Harrington’s recurring characters. The bottom of the keyboard (also detachable, Surface Pro-style, and surprisingly comfortable) has a few additional cute graphics.
This laptop has personality. I wish more gadgets would have done it. I’d love to throw this up in a coffee shop and look a little cooler than everyone else’s coffee shop dwellers around me. In a tech market full of boring grays and blacks, a touch of unique flavor that helps people fit their tablet into their style is always welcome.
But the Pentium is bad
This Vivobook 13 Slate model is priced at $899 on the Asus website (for the Pentium Silver N6000, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage). That makes it much cheaper than the same of 12.9 inch iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 9 (Especially since the keyboard and stylus are included in the price of the Vivobook). None of these premium devices come with such a cool design or stand that works in multiple orientations. And few 13-inch laptops out there, let alone sub-$1,000 devices, have an OLED screen.
How did Asus get the price so cheap? I can only assume that a large part of the cost savings is in the chip. The Intel Pentium Silver N6000 is by definition not a good processor. It doesn’t offer good battery life – I average just over five hours of continuous use with about a dozen Chrome tabs, Slack, and Spotify running at medium brightness occasionally – nor does it offer great performance.
If I only did one thing at a time, the Vivobook ran okay. Jumping between my dozen or so Chrome tabs was doable. I saw some typing lag, especially when I really hit the backspace key, and there were a few sites where I could feel the Pentium’s chug. (Likes on Twitter, for example, took a while to appear after I clicked the button.) But with those limitations, browsing Chrome was doable.
But once you try to get the Pentium to work, there are dragons. I got impatient clicking around in the Settings app. Drawing in Paint was fine, but Whiteboard was frustratingly slow. Slack, above Chrome tabs, became sluggish. It was slow to update and slow to address my clicks, sometimes taking several seconds to switch between channels. Once I started the Vivobook downloading some Windows and Microsoft Store updates everything else I was doing ground to a halt and the device became almost unusable with programs freezing left and right. Boot time was generally slow, and I stared at the Steven Harrington logo for a while every time the thing powered up.
Consent to continue: Asus Vivobook 13 Slate
The mandatory policies that require an agreement are:
- A request for your region
- Microsoft Software License Terms and Asus Notice
In addition, there are a lot of optional things that you have to agree to:
- Device Privacy Settings: Find My Device, Inking and Typing, Advertising ID, Location, Diagnostic Data, Tailored Experiences
- Provide information such as name, region, email address, phone number, and country to Asus for product registration and Asus account sign up, receiving email from Asus, and McAfee account sign up and receipt of emails from McAfee.
That’s three mandatory agreements and nine optional ones.
In summary, this can be a mini TV for YouTube and Netflix. This can be a Twitter machine. But you won’t have a great time if you plan to use it for more than that — and if you don’t, I just don’t think you should spend $900, even on all the cool cartoons.
That Non-Harrington Vivobook Slate is available a few hundred dollars cheaper (and I’ve seen it on sale for as little as $300). reviews point to this a much better deal. At this point, you’re looking for one of the cheapest ways out there to get an OLED screen. Those for whom affordable OLEDs are a big draw should consider this model.
There are many things I like about this product. An OLED laptop with an artist-designed body, included stylus, and two-way stand will likely cost over $1,000. Glad to see this type of device in a more affordable lineup.
I was dying to like this Vivobook because almost everything on the outside is great – and I always appreciate that Asus is willing to release such bold and fun designs in a way few other companies do.
But the inside is also important. And I think a Pentium in 2022 is too high a price to pay. Businesses shouldn’t be selling devices that are this slow for anywhere near this price. If you’re looking for a convertible device that’s good for one thing at a time, you have plenty of cheaper options. If you want a real Windows laptop that you can reliably use for multitasking and work, don’t be fooled by these cartoons. The Pentium is too slow by today’s standards.
Asus VivoBook 13 Slate Accessibility
- The letter keys are 0.6″ x 0.6″ with 0.1″ spacing between them. They are not backlit. Only the Caps Lock key has an indicator light. The power button is 0.75 x 0.2 inch. The volume buttons are 0.6 x 0.25 inches. The keys are black with white text and require very little force to press.
- The speakers averaged 86 decibels in my tests, which is louder than a standard external speaker.
- The tablet weighs 1.72 pounds.
- There are two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, a 3.5mm audio combo jack, and a microSD reader.
- The lid can be opened with one hand, but unfolding the stand requires two.
- The touchpad measures 2.6 x 5.1 inches.
- Setup involves turning on the device and clicking through several menus.
- The Vivobook supports fingerprint but not face login.
- Windows 11 includes a built-in screen reader (speech output). It supports third-party screen readers, including NV Access’s NVDA and Freedom Scientific’s Jaws. A full list of compatible software can be found here on the Microsoft website.
- Windows 11 supports voice input (accessed via Windows + H) and speech recognition (toggled with Windows + Ctrl + S).
- Color filters including inverted, grayscale, red-green, and blue-yellow can be toggled with Windows + Ctrl + C. Contrast themes are toggled with Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen. Standard dark mode and custom colors are also available under Personalization.
- The color and size of the caption can be customized and appears at the bottom of the screen.
- The keyboard can be remapped with PowerToys from Microsoft. Sticky keys are supported. An on-screen keyboard is available.
- The size and speed of the cursor can be adjusted and gestures can be remapped in the touchpad settings.
- Windows 11 supports eye control with external eye trackers.
- Windows 11 includes a snap layout feature that you can access by hovering over the maximize button in any open window.
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