We’ve concluded auditions at the UPTA conference and if you follow any of my writings on my mobile experiments you may remember I was planning to give the Asus R2H Ultra-Mobile PC a real workout in one of my more intensive work situations. I’ve been accustomed to using a Tablet PC in these instances before and was looking forward to seeing if the R2H would be a suitable substitute, eventually cutting down on the weight of the equipment I carry.
As I’ve posted before I chickened out and didn’t bring just the R2H with me (we’re also tagging a brief vacation in Florida onto the trip-making our time on the road a week and a half), I also brought along the Lenovo Thinkpad X60 Tablet PC and the R2H XP install disks. Glad I did.
I don’t want to make this post sound like I’m too down on the R2H. It is a lovely companion device and it performed quite well in a previous audition situation (that wasn’t quite as intense) and other work related scenarios. But I threw another variable into the mix prior to departing for this trip by installing Vista on the R2H . The earlier good experiences all came using XP as the operating system. Installing Vista proved to be a mistake. I believe primarily because Asus has yet to provide drivers for Vista. This, even though the R2H is featured prominently on Microsoft’s UMPC site with Vista running. As I’ve said before, I think that is quite misleading, at least given my experiences.
While quite a few folks have reported various degrees of success with Vista on the R2H, the fact that drivers don’t exist are indeed problematic on a number of fronts. I’ll say this: when and if drivers become available, I’m confident the R2H will perform like I need it to. I am comfortable with the performance and speed under Vista (most things run better than under XP.) And the touch and inking is a far superior experience with Vista installed. But at the moment, in order to use it for work purposes I will need to go back to XP to feel like it is in any way reliable.
The main problems have to do with the video drivers and being able to change the screen resolution. Too many applications are not tailor made for the small 7 inch screen at the Vista native resolution on the device, thus leaving controls off the screen and at times inaccessible. This just doesn’t work when you are trying to get work done.
I also ran into a bizarre scenario where the R2H would just freeze on boot up, necessitating switching it off and rebooting. This would happen randomly on both a cold start and on a return from sleep or hibernation. Intriguingly, I removed The Origami Experience from the Startup folder and it hasn’t re-occurred since. Again, I think there is a video driver issue conflict at the root of this and I won’t lay the blame on The Origami Experience pack here.
An issue also surfaced where the touch screen just quits working at random points. Navigation is still possible using the buttons on the R2H, but touch or the stylus don’t register until after a reboot. Strange behavior that I can’t track down.
The bottom line is this. Asus needs to get their act together and get Vista drivers out for the R2H. It is a capable Ultra-Mobile device that, in my situation at least, can fulfill its role as a companion device. Sure, I could (and will) roll back to XP. But it seems that Asus (and Microsoft) have positioned the R2H as a Vista Capable UMPC. Asus should quickly fulfill that promise by making drivers available sooner rather than later or at least come clean if they don’t plan on doing so.
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