You won't find a touch-screen laptop cheaper than the Asus VivoBook X202E. Just don't expect blazing speed or all-day battery life.
Slow speed and a weak battery. Here's where the Asus X202E cuts a few corners, experts say. It runs slower than a true Ultrabook, thanks to its punier Intel Core i3 processor (rivals use a faster i5) and lack of a solid-state drive (it does get the usual 500 GB hard drive, plus 32 GB of free cloud storage for three years). Serious gamers and heavy photo/video editors, look elsewhere. But for regular stuff -- streaming video, web browsing, etc. -- the Asus X202E cheap laptop works fine. Battery life disappoints, though. Playing back video, the Asus X202E dies in less than four hours in tests at CNET, PCMag.com and ComputerShopper.com.
Touch screen works nicely. Superb touch-screen response makes Windows 8 easy to navigate on the Asus X202E. The screen wobbles irritatingly on its hinges in PCMag.com's test, though. There's also a multi-touch touchpad, too; it works fine in most tests, but CNET gets a "flaky" one that won't respond at times. Some Amazon.com buyers get dud touchpads, as well. The keyboard is nearly full-size, but the keys are small. Typing feels a little cramped, testers say. The keyboard isn't backlit, but nobody expects that for this price. At less than 3 pounds and 0.8 inches thick, the Asus X202E won't eat up much space in a bag. It packs a full array of ports, but no optical drive.
Premium metal finish, but screen can be hard to see. Like just about every slim laptop these days, the Asus X202E copies the MacBook Air's tapered silhouette and brushed-metal finish. In fact, the lid, sides and keyboard deck are real brushed metal (although not the plastic bottom). The 14-inch, 1,366-by-768-pixel screen isn't full HD, but the resolution looks OK to testers.
Unfortunately, "the viewing angles are lousy, the display is dim, even with the brightness turned up, and the display is prone to reflecting every glint and glare," says Brian Westover at PCMag.com. Other critics note the same flaws. The speakers are better -- pretty good for a small, cheap laptop, actually. Room-filling volume impresses testers, although the sound gets tinny at full volume.
Reliable brand, but tech support gets mixed reviews. Asus wins a Readers' Choice award at PCMag.com, with one of the lowest repair rates of any brand. Asus tech support gets low marks from PCMag.com readers, however. Laptop Magazine staffers have better luck with Asus tech support, rating it a B-minus overall. Asus handles their anonymous questions via phone, email and Facebook well.
But live chat techs are extremely slow to respond, and when Laptop submits a question via Twitter, nobody answers. Asus covers the X202E with a one-year warranty on parts and labor, plus one year of accident protection and a 30-day zero bright dot warranty for the screen. Most owners report no problems, but one in 10 owners at Amazon.com say theirs broke quickly.
Not too shabby for the price -- but pay more, and you'll get more. Experts say $450 for a touch-screen laptop is a steal. You'd have to shell out a few hundred bucks more to get the Best Reviewed cheap Ultrabook, the Toshiba Satellite U845T (Est. $800) . The Toshiba does offer much faster performance, longer battery life and a sturdier build, however.
1. Laptop Magazine
Laptop Magazine doesn't recommend the Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T, largely because its battery life is too short. Its weak processor doesn't help in benchmark tests. Daniel Berg does like the touch-screen experience, but not the dim screen itself.
Review: Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T Review, Daniel Berg, Dec. 27, 2012
Brian Westover finds plenty of flaws with the Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T, including brief battery life and relatively sluggish performance in benchmark tests. But it does offer a touch screen at a very low price, "which may make it worthwhile despite its flaws."
Review: Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T, Brian Westover, Jan. 24, 2013
Dan Ackerman likes getting a touch screen on a $500 laptop, but the Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T does force some compromises -- namely short battery life, "flaky" touchpad and a slower processor that lags in benchmark tests. Still, it's "worth a look for budget shoppers."
Review: Asus VivoBook X202E Review: An Inexpensive Touch-screen Windows 8 Laptop, Dan Ackerman, Jan. 24, 2013
4. Computer Shopper
Matt Safford notes the same flaws as other critics, but he awards the Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T an Editors' Choice anyway. Performance in benchmark tests is good enough, and $500 for a touch-screen laptop is tough to beat.
Review: Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T Review and Ratings, Matt Safford, Jan. 31, 2013
One of owners' favorite cheap laptops, the Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T achieves a score of over 4 stars out of 5 here, following more than 340 reviews. About one in 10 owners gives it a bad score, usually because some part either quickly stopped working or physically broke.
Review: Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T 11.6-Inch Touch Laptop, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2013