Installing Vista on the Asus R2H: A Rough Road

Have you seen this picture that adorns the new Ultra-Mobile PC site for Microsoft?



Wonder why the guy holding up the Asus R2H is sort of hiding behind it? Probably because installing Vista on the R2H is not for the faint of heart and can leave you with a sour taste in your mouth if you don’t have the patience of Job.

Yes, installing Vista on the Asus R2H can be done. I’ve done it. Unlike jkkmobile, I don’t have everything working yet. (He keeps promising that he’ll post his process some day. Any day now jkk, will be just fine.) Like some other devices, drivers are the big issue. There are no Vista drivers available for the R2H at the moment and some of the XP drivers will do the trick. Some don’t. At least in my case. At the moment I don’t have the fingerprint reader working, nor any method of changing the screen resolution. I also don’t have the hardware indicators working to tell me if Bluetooth or Wireless are on. Of course there is no rotation available either. These things might become real deal breakers, if Vista drivers don’t show up. They are annoying in their absence to say the least. I haven’t even attempted to get the GPS working yet, so I don’t know one way or the other on that one.

What I do have working I like a lot. The inking experience is excellent. Even more so that it was with XP and I’ve been very pleased with it using XP. The system is certainly snappier without all of the Asus CRAPWARE that was included on the original install. In fact, it is snappier than I expected given the 1.0 Vista Performance score on the R2H. Intriguingly, the system reports an additional 20 minutes of battery life under Vista than it ever did under XP. That certainly flies in the face of a lot of info already out there, but it is true. I wish I had run a Battery Eater test before moving from XP, but I didn’t have that foresight.


But back to installation issues and why you need patience. The biggest issues have to do with screen resolution. After Vista did its thing (I opted for a clean install not an upgrade) very few of the screens you need to manipulate adjust for the default screen resolution. This makes it almost impossible to move forward at times with some amazing gymnastics trying to tap or click on a button. The Vista adaptive touch mouse metaphor came up after the install, but the calibration was way off. Of course the process to calibrate the screen opens up windows with controls you can’t reach, so you’re really in a bind there. I finally managed to get the resolution changed, but then a new gotcha appears. You can’t scroll the screen in a higher resolution, and the Taskbar and Start button are therefore located forever out of your view. The only way I could change things back was to get to the Device Manager, uninstall the video driver and let Windows restore it after a cold shut down using the power button. Scary stuff.


Some other observations:

  • That adaptive touch mouse metaphor is a real waste. It just doesn’t make any sense the way I use the touch screen.
  • Touch is easier to use under Vista than it was under XP. Everything feels more responsive with less pressure, and when I’m using a stylus I get no vectoring or registration issues.
  • I’ve seen a similar issue that MiniMage reported with the Wireless card disappearing, but so far only once.

Asus certainly isn’t the only OEM out there not being johnny on the spot with drivers. While there is great hope that they will do so soon, I remember distinctly an interview Matt Faulkner and I had with an Asus rep at CES. The rep said he didn’t believe Vista drivers would be made available, which is really interesting considering that Vista Capable sticker on the device. I’m not taking the rep’s word as a final decision by any means, (am I an eternal optimist or what?) but given the lack of drivers it does make one wonder.

So does that picture on the Microsoft site. In many ways, it irks me when I see it. It certainly suggests a nice Vista experience on the Asus R2H. And I think you can get there, if you’re willing to jump through some hoops, have a good bit of knowledge, and know where to look. But the average Joe and Jane aren’t going to want to spend the time to do so. In my opinion, they will be thoroughly frustrated if they try to do it on their own. At the very least that picture is misleading.

I’ll keep experimenting before I leave on my next trip in a few days and with my luck, Asus will release new drivers while I’m away.