Asus R50A full review

Posted on 28 December 2008 by



DSC_0554 

Dynamism very kindly lent us this Asus R50A for review.

Note: The unit is said to be pre-production. As you will read in the review below, the hardware seems final except the speakers aren’t functioning. The software build is where the flaws seem to be. ultra mobile PC Portal reader Arthur, who owns an R50A, says that he doesn’t have some of the software issues (such as multiple radio connection apps) that I experienced with my unit. He also sent over his Vista Index score which I have posted below (my unit’s Vista Index didn’t seem to be calculating correctly).

Overview

Have a look at the R50A [Portal page] Slate ultra mobile PC from Asus. A pretty nice piece of hardware that unfortunately lends itself to some poor software integration. I’ve been testing the ultra mobile PC for a few weeks now and regret to say that I am not impressed with it as a consumer device. Lets have a run-down of the specs first, shall we?

  • 5.6″ 1024×600 gloss touchscreen
  • 1.33GHz Atom Z520 CPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 32GB SSD
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • 3G HSDPA
  • Bluetooh/WLAN
  • GPS

If you are interested, have a look at my R50A unboxing. Here is a quick excerpt of my unboxing impressions:

The Asus R50A manages to be true to at least half of its “Rock Solid – Heart Touching” slogan. The R50A feels solid in the hands and it is fairly well made. The 32GB SSD helps reaffirm that this unit is designed to be mobile in and in the user’s hands. The joystick mouse doesn’t move like that of an video game controller, instead it moves like the stick on a PSP, it moves left and right while staying on the same plane, as opposed to actually tilting from one side to another. Even after much practice with the thumb stick on my VAIO UX180, this thing will take some getting used to. This is the first Slate ultra mobile PC that I have used, so it is a new experience for me; having to do my regular computing tasks without a keyboard. Going through Vista’s handwriting recognition training makes the recognition pretty darn accurate. The screen isn’t too smooth to write on unfortunately, and the stylus is small… too small for a ultra mobile PC that doesn’t have a keyboard.

Right out of the box, Vista is causing some serious issues. Right now I’m running the unit with the lowest possible graphical settings from Vista, and performance is still pretty bad. Vista is really obviously going to be a major bane to this otherwise good piece of hardware.

 

Hardware Tour

front

Front (left to right): Left and right mouse buttons, quick launch touchscreen menu button, Windows Media Center launch, user log off page button, sleep button, camera, mouse stick, biometric fingerprint scanner, arrow key d-pad + center enter button.

left side

Left side: Micro SD slot, power slider, proprietary USB accessory connector, wrist-strap anchor.

bottom

Bottom: Microphone hole, air vents (intake).

right side

Right side: Wrist-strap anchor, proprietary VGA connector (behind door), battery ejection switch, USB 2.0.

top

Top: Camera button, air vents (output), A/C adapter, mini-USB port, hold switch, air vents (intake), antenna connector, stylus silo.

3g

Under the battery: SIM card slot for 3G, camera.

camera hole

Battery: Camera lens hole.

A few size comparison pictures to the VAIO UX:

sizecomp2 sizecomp3 size compar 1

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Categorized | Reviews

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14 Comments For This Post

  1. deriuqer says:

    *The joystick mouse doesn’t move like that of an video game controller, instead it moves like the stick on a PSP, it moves left and right while staying on the same plane, as opposed to actually tilting from one side to another*

    Either it´s a software problem or the stick isn´t analog (I guess it´s another d-pad binded to the arrow keys which don´t support vertical scrolling,the stick is just for the looks),the PSP stick is fully analog like on any average game controller by the way,if your PSP stick doesn´t move analog it may be your Super Mario which doesn´t support analog movement. ;)

    I think the R50A was done before Asus realized how fast the market grows and the market has overtaken Asus with great speed.Well,won´t be a problem for Asus,they have a million different Eee models to sell as well.

    Ben Reply:

    When I as talking about the movement of the stick, I was referring to how it physically moved. If you have used an Xbox 360 controller and the PSP’s stick; that is the difference I am trying to get across.

  2. Allan Bogild Pedersen says:

    What a shame that Asus havent spend more time on the software and the drivers, it could be a great UMPC. only 1 point in the Viata score, my HTC Shift scores 2.1 and it is not a fast one.

    By the way this is not the first time Asus made a ok UMPC useless with bad drivers and crapware

  3. PlacidoDomenech says:

    If you are really looking for something handheld and close to pocketable i only see OQO model 02 or future 03 i hope we will see in CES 2009.

    Sony UX is discontinued so isn’t a good option.

    Ben Reply:

    I mention the VAIO UX line because I’ve been using one with great success for years now. The fact that they haven’t come out with a new one in a while simply drives the price down. The top end UX model is still the most powerful UMPC that I’ve ever seen. But you are right, the OQO 02 is also a good option because it has a nice keyboard. But the 02’s are less powerful.

  4. JC says:

    Why did you expect the R50A to score much better than the UX180 in CrystalMark? The 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo in the UX180 ought to be computationally more powerful than the 1.3 GHz Intel Atom in the R50A. Even if the R50A were running XP, I suspect it still couldn’t beat the UX180 in Crystalmark.

    Ben Reply:

    You are right, the Core Solo line should be more powerful than the Atom CPUs, but the R50A has double the RAM, and has technology that is 3 years more advanced.

  5. Arthur says:

    I also have an r50a. Jenn at pocketables put up pictures of my unit. My overall Vista score is 2.7. My Graphics score is 2.9 and my Gaming Graphics score is also 2.9. The other Vista scores are the same as yours. My unit did not come with any bloatware. I do not use the security software so I do not get the popups. I purchases Microsoft Street and Trips for $40 and it works well with the GPS. I only have a Wireless Console 3 and it works without incident. I connect without effort to my home network, Starbucks hotspots and via HSDPA to AT&T’s network. As I told Jenn, this is the first UMPC I have owned which can playback Itunes video and Sligbox video without skipping. I love the device, I find it responsive, it has great battery life, the fan is quite (unlike my OQO 02) and it is small, although not pocketable. I do wish however that the mouse pointer worked better and that it had a keyboard.

    Ben Reply:

    I’m firing up the R50A right now to see if there is anything I can do to reach the performance of your unit. I just got word from Dynamism that this was not a production unit, so it is likely that the software build is not optimized; maybe I’m missing some important updated drivers. Can you do me a favor and run Crystal Mark on your R50A? ( http://release.crystaldew.info/CrystalMark2004 ) I’d like to see how yours scores.

  6. ArchiMark says:

    Thing that strikes me about the r50a is how big it looks compared to the UX. Although at least it’s thinner….

  7. Rob Beschizza says:

    @fauc Asus’s R50 Mobile Internet Device not very good. Does not bode well for same-specced Sony P. http://tinyurl.com/a36pum

  8. Arthur says:

    Ben, I have only made one small change to the graphics settings on my unit. I do not understand why your unit was not performing better without making the changes that negativley impacted your units performance. All I did was turn off the glass. Unfortunatley other outlets have picked up your flawed review which makes it sound like the r50a can perform no better than a UX. This is clearly the best performing UMPC I have owned. Prior devices include UX50, HTC Shift, and u810.

  9. Arthur says:

    Ben, you are wrong again. The r50a does have a built in speaker and it works well. In fact I used it this weekend.

    Ben Reply:

    Sorry Arthur, it may be the non-production model factor, but my R50A doesn’t show any speakers even in the device manager unless I plug in the headphones. Where is the speaker physically located within your unit?

    Arthur Reply:

    Ben, I can’t see the speaker but the sound appears to be coming out of the right side of the unit. I did the test and captured the results. Can I email them to you?

    Ben Reply:

    Sure: ben (at) umpcportal.com

  10. Arthur says:

    Ben, I just email you the screen shots.

  11. Abdu says:

    I use a Samsung Q1 as an eReader. It has left/right arrow buttons which I use to page up/down when reading pdf’s. Does this unit have similar button functionality?

  12. Corrupted Mind says:

    Oh dear, this does not sound like the upgrade I want for the Samsung Q1 that is now on its last legs. I have a hunch that the new Sony will be more expensive than the R50 (currently £700-800). The fact that vista is on that too makes me less hopeful. I think this next round will be a strange one for me as I’m being forcibly penned into the MID category, and I’m feeling rebellious about my netbook options which has me suddenly searching through full size laptop options – this isn’t good. I’m hoping CES will help me get my UMPC mojo back.

  13. unseshomo says:

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    I do not know the right sort of a link and it is not clear to you at the forum how to do it.
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  14. karmic koala says:

    I have been looking for a device that I can use a web tablet and a phone, but that is a real computer. Some things concern me:

    First, some devices have everything soldered to the board. I know this was an issue with the eee. If I but ubuntu 9.10 on an ssd, will I be able to swap it into this machine? Yeah, I know there will be driver issues.

    Is there another machine that I should be looking at instead?

2 Trackbacks For This Post

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    […] UMPCPortal has reviewed the Asus R50A and comments: I’ll start out by just saying that I’m disappointed in the R50A. It is hard for a product like this to really succeed though. When you think about it, the R50A tries to fill a niche within a niche. Unless you are specifically looking for a handheld device that can only be used as a slate, I couldn’t recommend the R50A to you. I can’t think of many situations where a full sized slate, or convertible Tablet PC wouldn’t be a much better alternative than the R50A. Unfortunately the UMPC form-factor and slate PC concept just don’t mix well. What you end up with is a device that can’t be held with one hand very comfortably, and even looking beyond that, has a very small writing space. Related PostsAsus R50A UMPCWiBrain I1 UMPCAsus U2E notebookSamsung Q1UP-V Vista UMPCAsus Eee PC 1000HD Save This Article : […]

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