Read this Guide Before Buying the Notebook
This review is quite a long as I am trying to answer many worries, doubts and questions about ASUS X102B(A). I have tested two different machines and one of the notebooks is the one I am using since September 2013 and The second one I bought (second hand) for my parents and both machines have similar configuration.
More than a review I am adding some tips on installation, speeding the machine, upgrading the OS etc. Also questions about Microsoft Office 2013 license, performance comparison etc after the review of the machine, those who do not want to read all skip the section for the pros and cons. If you've any question, doubts, comments, or worries ask me in the comments section I am more than happy to answer.
Asus X102B or Asus X102BA?
What is the difference between Asus X102B and Asus X102BA? Nothing both are the same, as I tried to find an answer on the Web and failed. According to Asus website only Asus X102BA exists, I think the extra "A" comes from the AMD "A" series processor. Basically both are the same, the notebook you are getting though it says X102B the MCode (Machine Code) is X102BA-DF027H. The BIOS notes the platform as X102BA.
What's in the Box
* Asus X102B(A) notebook
* Battery (3 cell battery attached to the machine)
* AC Adapter/Power cord
* User Manual
* Microsoft Office 2013 and Windows 8 Touch Product licence card (Orange colour card - IMPORTANT)
* Warranty card
* User manual leaflet (full user manual is pinned to the the desktop as PDF file)
Does it have full Microsoft Office 2013?
Will you get full Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013? The answer is Yes! Yes! And Yes!
However in some cases it can be a no and it will be your fault (see the section in the review titled "To Get Microsoft Office Full Licence"...).
First of all what's included in the Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013
1. Office applications - Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013 and OneNote 2013.
2. 15 GB online storage with OneDrive and
3. Free office online sync with OneDrive account
I was puzzled if you're buying Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 directly from the Microsoft it will cost you £109.99! I didn't originally think they would include that expensive full version of Office in a £225 machine. Then when I got the machine I found that included in the paraphernalia there is an orange coloured card titled "Office" which says, let me quote - "Do Not Discard - Office Product Licence - The Manufacturer of your personal computer has licensed the Microsoft products listed in this document. This certificate of authenticity is your assurance that the following Microsoft products you have received are legally licensed to you from ASUS.
Included Microsoft Products:
Windows 8 Small Screen Touch with Office Home & Student 2013"
Followed by the product keys sticker and the warning - Please keep this Office Card carefully as it cannot be replaced in case of getting lost, broken or unrecognizable. ASUS reserves the right to request this Office Card before accepting repair or refund requests. NOT for individual resale. (I suggest you scan it or photograph it, then save it on your cloud or google drive or dropbox , just in case if it damaged, lost or gets unclear)
Then the activation instructions:
1. Locate the Office tile on the Start screen
2. One open, click the "Activate" button
3. Use the product key printed on the Certificate of Authenticity when prompted
4 Follow the prompts to complete the installation.
To make sure you'll get the full licence of the Microsoft Office 2013 see the section - To Get Microsoft Full Licence - in the review.
Screen and Display
Usually when in low priced laptops and netbooks the display suffers, not on Asus X102B, this one has quite nice and brilliant display at 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. And the quality is fantastic.
I was pleasantly surprised the touch screen worked very well; I have no complaints here, and very pleased with multi-gesture, swipes, finger slide, pinch zooming, various one-two-three finger smart gestures on the touch pad. I have observed some stuck-y or resistance - instances occasionally on the touchpad which was especially when your palm pressuring the notebook. When you use Fresh Paint it's amazingly touch sensitive and well responsive, you can paint like a real canvas or paper, simply perfect.
Keyboard is another brilliant feature of Asus X102B the Chiclet- island style , seamless keyboard is not just ergonomic but a pleasure to type. While the traditional keyboard has thick plastic keys placed close to one another and can slanted along the sides creating a wider base but still closed to one another, the Chiclet or island-style keyboard uses thin clean-cut keys which are spaced or separated from one another thus creating a smooth and seamless surface. Chiclet keyboards are smooth, silent, adequately spaced, less chance for typing errors, and comfortable. Better most Chiclet keyboards are spill proof and dust proof, little chance of dust, crumbs or grains get stuck underneath and the Chiclet keyboard is easier to clean as well. As the description says it's silent and adequately spaced for comfortable and accurate typing. Usually 10.1" netbooks has keyboard is too small or crammed into the small space it's been given but of Asus X102B the Chiclet keyboard has all the features I have just described above . If you've very big fingers you might don't like the keyboard, but on a 10.1" machine they did the biggest they could.
The processor is AMD® Temash Dual core A4-1200 1.0 GHz Processor with AMD Radeon HD 8180 dedicated graphics card.The processing speed of 1 GHz which is 1000000000 Hz, and for Windows 8 and 8.1 need a minimum One gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for Physical Address Extension (PAE), NX processor bit (NX) and Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2) (According to Microsoft PAE gives processors the ability to use more than 4 GB of physical memory on capable versions of Windows, and is a prerequisite for NX. NX helps your processor guard the PC from attacks by malicious software. SSE2 is a standard instruction set on processors that is increasingly used by third-party applications and drivers.)
As the Windows 8 or 8.1, the One GHz processor is the minimum and ASUS X102B uses that minimum One GHz processor I have assumed that it will affect the performance, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was not a problem at all when it comes to performance.
Initial Setup 32 minutes and 08 seconds
System Restart (from pressing restart including shut down) 1:22 (Windows 8)
Fresh paint 32 seconds (Windows 8)
Changing profiles (switch to another user) 22 seconds
Applications Loading time
Booting Speed 23.41 seconds average (Windows 8)
Booting Speed 20.55 seconds (Windows 8.1)
Browser Launch time on Windows 8
Chrome Browser (initial launch) 13 Seconds (later) 9 seconds on
Firefox Browser (initial launch) 15 Seconds (later) 11 seconds
Default Internet Explorer 9 Seconds
Speed of HDD
Write speed 82.77 MBps
Write 77.21 MBps
(After UPGRADED to ) Windows 8.1 Performance
Cold start 32 seconds first time (when you power on to windows screen without on screen password)
Cold start average time 14 seconds to Windows 8.1 screen
Chrome 7.26 seconds (around) average ( maximum 10.23 seconds)
Maxthon Browser 9 seconds average (10.02 seconds)
Internet Explorer 2.41 seconds!! (To my surprise the Internet Explorer is ultra-fast within three seconds the browser is already in the default msn page. I checked this many different times and the maximum it has gone to reach the msn page was four seconds)
Though I mainly use Chrome browser, the Internet Explorer launching time was brilliant and I guess the default browser with the machine wasn't loaded with extensions.
To open the default folder (icon on the desktop which shows the devices, This PC, and drives) - 3 seconds, other folders or drives - instant.
Fresh paint - 8.58 seconds
Maps -19 seconds
Windows Store - 9 seconds
Xbox Video - 6 seconds
Excel 2013 - 7 Seconds
Word 2013 - 2.9 seconds (Wow!)
Powerpoint 2013 - 4.9 seconds (first time) 2.55 seconds (average)
Onenote 2013 - initial setup and synchronization - 17 seconds (average is the incredible .04 seconds, that's not even a second!!)
Overall I am really impressed with the performance of ASUS X102B(A), if you disagree challenge me in the comments section, I will answer any of your queries. All the performance test was while the notebook was on DC plugged in, on the battery there is a few seconds delay (three to seven seconds) was observed.
Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 802.11 b Wireless Network Adaptor, which has the data transfer rate of 300 Mbps so don't worry about the wireless connection, it's a great wireless adaptor. (Encryption can be 128-bit WEP, 64-bit WEP, AES, PEAP, TLS, TTLS, WPA, WPA2)
There is an option called Bluetooth settings, and Install Microsoft Bluetooth software for Microsoft Windows. Though I haven't tried to set up, may be after you download the Bluetooth software from the Microsoft it might work, I couldn't find any integrated Bluetooth in the device manager, I am sure after downloading the Bluetooth software you can use a portable Bluetooth device (I will update the review after I try that). The manual says you can use Bluetooth by launching the charms bar then click on the settings-->Change PC Settings-->Devices--->Add a Device (However the machine didn't pick up my Bluetooth signals so I am downloading the Bluetooth drivers suggested - will update the review with the results)
When I was using streaming video and MS Word, I have got 3.48 hours of battery, with MS Office applications alone I guess, it would give closer to five hours that ASUS is claiming or at least four and half hours. However, let's safely assume it would give an average four hours of battery time.
No Integrated Optical Media
This machine has no DVD or Bluray Drives, it's more alike a netbook than a laptop, compact, lightweight and very portable. However you can connect an external DVD drive with no problems. I tested my old HP external DVD drive] and tested the old Constantine (2005) DVD and it worked fine. Constantine rocked!
To Get Microsoft Office Full Licence
Now those who have failed to get Microsoft Office.... (I have to explain it lengthily so please bear with me). At the Amazon page it says that the netbook Includes Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013, in fact the description clearly says "The X102B provides Free Office 2013 Home and Student version with full functions of Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013 and OneNote 2013. Create, work, plan and share more easily at home and at school." So you are entitled to get the full version of Microsoft Office, ASUS Office card also agrees with that. However, it all depends on the seller. For example, if you're getting this notebook from Argos, their catalogue description initially said it Includes Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 trial version though recently (on the website) they removed the "trial" notification suggesting full licence, yet they should have included the orange licence card. In some cases, I heard people are getting a starter pack. When you try some applications you think you've owned for example Access or PowerPoint, Microsoft will ask you for an upgrade which will cost you as you need to purchase that application (unless you are satisfied with MS Word only and you've got that as a full version then I would consider you lucky) however I suggest take the machine back and demand the full license card included with the machine.
For this reason, for those who are buying ASUS X102 B(A) online, especially a second hand one, please ask the seller specifically if they are included FULL VERSION of Microsoft Office 2013 and make sure you will get the Orange Office (licence) card not only for the office installation but for in case you need repair - refund issues . This is very important point to note, when you buy this machine from independent sellers in Amazon or when you get a used machine chances are higher that there won't be a Microsoft Office installed or the seller failed to include license information... When it is a used notebook and was licence code was on a separate card, previous owners may use it for their own use. So always ask the seller before buying it, especially if you're eager to get a full version of Microsoft Office.
Let me repeat that again (and again), ask the seller the Office full license before buying this machine. Forget the advertisement or specifications or other people vouching that they got the full version, ask the seller to make sure if you are keen on Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 full version. Ask and only then it shall be given... The Asus X102B(A) box have Windows 8.1 Small Screen Touch with Office Home and Student 2013 The FULL Office Product License Key is included. This Code to activate Office is a genuine Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity (COA) is on a card in the box -- look for it as soon as you open the box is my advice. It says that "This certificate of authenticity is your assurance that the following Microsoft Products you have received are licensed to you from ASUS. If you can't find the Orange Licence card you know what to do...demand it or say you are returning it if there is no full licence.
System and OS update ( to Windows 8.1)
If the system OS is still Windows 8 and saying no updates, click on check updates then update to install updates. Before upgrading to the Windows 8.1 you have to install all the updates, even if you go into the Windows store and try to update to Windows 8.1 you'll get the message that you have to install all the updates. If your computer hasn't installed any updates at all then it would take some time. I have 118 updates to download which took more than three hours.
Hard disk speed and the internet connection speed may be the decisive factors in updating Windows but rather than the machine I think it's the Microsoft's problem with the updates, many people on different system have lot of complaints including the slower updates. Since the Asus X102BA have 5600 rpm hard disk not SSA, it might take the sweet time.
Before you start updating, go to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistibutions\Downloads delete everything in the download folder, restart and start update. You will the message with the green bar moving, downloading xxx updates(0kb total, 0 % completed) this message stays for a long time, you might think it is not downloading anything, however if you go to the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistibutions\Downloads folder you can see the updates are downloading. Chances are it will stuck when it reaches 99 %, usually after an hour and half, leave it at that...then click on the power option to restart; this time you will have the option "Update and Restart" click on that and wait for another long and painstaking installation of all the updates. It took me more than three hours to finish the installation of all the updates (it took two restarts as well). After everything complete install the optional updates.
There are four optional updates, which are:
1. Asus Wireless Radio Control (33 kb)
2. Qualcomm Atheros Communication WLAN (916 kb)
3. Realtek - LAN - Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller (380 kb)
4 Updates for Windows 8 x64 based systems (16 Mb)
Even though these are optional, I suggest you install all these updates before proceeding to upgrading to Windows 8.1 as it updates the drivers.
Now click on the store and you can see the tile "Update to Windows 8.1 for Free," click on it and follow the instructions. Windows 8.1 will start downloading the updates (17 updates when I upgraded). It took almost 42 minutes (at 60.42 Mbps download speed)
Charms bar is a toolbar that consists of several tools that allow your to share applications and provide quick access for customizing the settings of the notebook. It can be triggered on the right side of the screen. Swipe from the right edge of the screen to launch the charms bar, when called out charms bar initially appears as a s set of white icons which you can customize. You can launch charms bar with the touch screen, touch pad, keyboard. Use Windows key + C to launch charms bar to launch it with keyboard.
Keybord Special Characters
There are special characters in the keyboard and when I tried ctril+alt+a it turned to á as it shown in the key, but other symbols on the keys are not working for example "é" there must be some key combinations if anyone has any suggestions please post it in the comments section.
The Graphics Card
This machine is not intended as a gaming machine, though it has a dedicated graphics card AMD Radeon HD 8180 it does not have its own memory instead it accesses the main memory of the system up to single-channel DDR3L-1066, however it can have a shared memory of 1024 MB! Which enables it to run many 3D games on low to medium settings.
This graphics card is an integrated DirectX 11.1 graphics card with the AMD Temash APUs the current A4-1200. It offers 128 shader cores based on the GCN architecture (two Compute Units) and clocks at 225 MHz - no turbo.
This graphics card also integrates an UVD 4.2 video decoder as well as a VCE 2.0 video encoder. It supports up to two external monitors via VGA, DVI, HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2. While it was a big win as the card is DirectX 11.1 compatible with Shader 5.0 the 1.0 Ghz processor lets many good 3D games down.
The Games it can play
Bioshock Infinite Minimum settings (low 11 fps)
Tomb Rider in Minimum Settings with (low 13.1 fps)
Minecraft in Minimum Settings
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm (low 22 fps and medium 11 fps)
Diablo III minimum low settings 16 fps
Trackmania Nations forever (high 12 fps 1024x768 low 42 fps 640x480)
Risen - (medium 6 fps1024x768 low13 fps 800x600)
Far Cry - smooth playing, high settings.
GTA 3 Vice City - Medium settings
GTA 3 San Andreas - Medium to high settings
Tron 2.0 - High settings
Need for Speed Underground - Medium to high settings
Icewind Dale II - Medium settings
Halflife 2 - Medium settings
Max Payne - High settings
Max Payne 2 - Medium to high settings
Medal of Honor Pacific Assault - High Settings
The Games it CANNOT play
Far Cry 3 and 4 (processor is the only problem however, read my reviews why it shouldn't play on lower end systems .
Dragon Age Inquisition (the only problems are CPU speed (needed minimum 2.0 GHz have 1.0 GHz and Memory need minimum 4 GB have only 3.5 usable memory)
Total War - Attila
If you have any specific game playability question in mind ask me; and I will answer it in the comments.
Photoshop CC 2014 recommended system requirement is 8 GB RAM and Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor (2 GHz or faster) so that's out of question, you can try some older versions of Photoshop however my suggestion is that as it's a resource heavy application the performance can be really slow. I recommend you to try it on a laptop or PC with a minimum 2 GHz processor.
If Asus X102B notebook is Slow
Many reviews says this system is slow, absolutely not and I firmly stand in my view, as I tested the machine in many ways expecting to find it slow. This is why I have included a performance section.
Now, if your system is slow there could be many reasons from the user side.
1. Using resource hungry applications
2. Higher multi-tasking
4. Slow internet connection
5. Heavy graphics applications
6. Unnecessary extra features
7. Improper usage
Avoid resource hungry applications like E-commerce applications, CAD/CAM, Photoshop, simulation programmes, torrent clients, sometimes Real Player, Viber etc. can be resource hungry when they work in the background and sometimes in the habit of constant restarts.
Don't use many applications at once, I used three or four applications at once, (Youtube, MS Word, Maps, Fresh Paint but never had any problems) but it's not recommended if you have a slow issue. This notebook is intended for the light use though it's quite powerful in a good way.
Bloatware is a slang for unnecessary software that is pre-installed or software heavy with features, often unnecessary, that are costing hard disk space, RAM resources and processing power. If you don't want to use an application uninstall it.
Heavy Graphics Application
Many 3D games can be run in this notebook (see Games section in the review) however, most of them just passed the minimum requirements so if you try to run it in medium or high settings it will make the notebook really slow. Later versions of Photoshop, video editing software also included in the heavy graphics applications.
Unnecessary Extra Features
Similar to bloatware don't add extra features or plugins to your browser. Try to make the settings of the browsers simple. Adding grammar plugins to Word, dictionary, downloader plugins etc. to your browser can make those applications really slow. It's not the problem of the notebook but you are forcing it to eat all that "junk food" to make the applications obese!
Use the machine properly, don't misuse it. Sometimes when you lean the palm on the left or right side of the computer (the space below the keyboard left or right side of the touchpad) it can have a stopping or pausing effect on the machine. Take care of your computer (see the tips on the Net) and it will be fine, use an occasional cache cleaning (you can use an application like Ccleaner)
ASUS X102B(A) Specifications
Processor : AMD® Temash Dual core A4-1200 1.0 GHz Processor
Operating System: Windows 8 and DOS (free update for Windows 8.1)
Memory: DDR3L 1066 MHz SDRAM,
OnBoard : 4 GB (that's the maximum)
Display: 10.1" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED Backlight Glare panel
Graphic Card: AMD Radeon® HD 8180G
Storage: 500GB 5400 RPM
Card Reader: 2 -in-1 card reader ( SD/ SDHC)
Camera: HD Web Camera
Networking: Integrated 802.11 b/g/n or 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (Optional)
10/100 Base T
1 x combo audio jack for headphone-microphone
2 x USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x LAN port
1 x Kensington Security slot
1 x VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin
1 x HDMI port
1 x Power (DC) input port
1 x USB 3.0 port
* Air vents
1 Memory Card- SD/SDHC card - reader
Audio: Built-in Speakers And Microphone
Battery: 3Cells 3000 mAh 33 Whrs
Output :19 V DC, 1.75 A, 33 W
Input : 100 -240 V AC, 50/60 Hz universal
266 x 185.1 x 23.3 ~29 cm (WxDxH) (with 3cell battery)
Weight: 1.1 kg (with 3 cell battery)
Security: Kensington security slot
UL, MIC, CE Marking Compliance, FCC Compliance, CCC, Energy star
2-year limited International hardware warranty. *differedt by country
1-year battery pack warranty
On-line problem resolution through web interface (BIOS, Driver update)
OS (Windows® 8 ) install/uninstall consultation
Bundled software install/uninstall consultation
ASUS software supporting
This is a good basic laptop/netbook. It's not intended for multitasking and heavier applications like Adobe Photoshop which might slows the machine. I have to say it's a decent notebook, energy efficient, good battery life, brilliant performance, compact, and good for office applications with a nice touch (pun intended) . Don't expect or compare it with a quad core i7 processor powered laptop or desktop and you'll be fine.
Sensitive touch screen
Full Licenced MS Office 2013 Home and Student edition worth £109.99
Great Wi-fi adapter
Graphics card with shader 5.0
Low rpice - budget wise
Cons or limitations
1.0 Ghz processor
No optical drive
No integrated Bluetooth found
(this review, which I originally written for another site under the name Gre4t Moments, will be updated, if you've any questions feel free to ask in the comment section, thanks)