In our previous article for the ASUS VivoPC, we had simply looked at what the VivoPC is and what it has to offer in terms of its specifications and added extras. After its initial impressions, we found that the VivoPC was very different from the competition in most aspects be it design, specifications, features and all the bells and whistles that come with it. The modern design approach that the designers went with is what makes the ASUS VivoPC stand-out from the crowd. We say this because when it comes to buying a really small desktop PC, size is not the only thing a consumer looks for. The product that the consumer would want to choose shouldn’t look like just any other plain looking black box but it should be something more of a mix between a nice design with a perfect size and good features. And this is why, let’s delve deeper into the features of the ASUS VivoPC and check out some of its most unique offerings including the innovative ASUS VivoMouse and the built-in SonicMaster speakers among other things.
Yes, you read that right. Though it doesn’t quite look like it, but the ASUS VivoPC has built-in speakers. Although surprising, you shouldn’t disregard the speakers thinking they may not be so good due to their size but in fact ASUS has made sure to include their well researched SonicMaster speakers in the VivoPC. Unlike regular small form-factor PC’s or notebooks that come with built-in speakers that usually sound bad, ASUS SonicMaster technology tries to improve the overall audio experience for the user. To put it into perspective, ASUS SonicMaster is basically a standard developed by the ASUS Golden Ear team which is certified by Bang & Olufsen ICEPowerR. This technology aims to provide users with an optimized sound hardware which works in conjunction with their precision-tuned software to offer an immersive audio experience that too without adding too much cost.
Some advantages of ASUS SonicMaster speakers:
In its attempt to provide an audiophile level experience to users of the VivoPC, ASUS’s SonicMaster speakers claims to provide some of the following benefits:
- Clear Sound: With optimum speaker positioning inside it, the VivoPC is capable of producing clear and quality sound.
- Deeper Bass: Bass lovers won’t be disappointed when it comes to listening to their favourite beat heavy tracks on the VivoPC.
- Volume: SonicMaster speakers provide a high output by boosting volume levels.
- Wider Range: The built-in speakers minimize noise, reduce distortion and bestow wider sonic range.
- Distinct Vocals: According to ASUS, SonicMaster speakers are perfect when it comes to VoIP and listening to pure vocal content.
- Surround: The built-in sound processing software encompasses the user in a directionally proper surround sound experience.
In order to check out the built-in SonicMaster speakers on the ASUS VivoPC, we played some of our favourite music tracks which let us test the speakers for different genres of music. After listening to music on the VivoPC, we must say that ASUS has put in a decent amount of effort to improve audio experience on small form-factor PC’s and it shows. The amount of control on sound that you get with the VivoPC is very good for a PC of its size. Users of the VivoPC can use the built-in speakers with ease instead of going for a set of cheap external speakers.
ASUS VivoMouse WT720:
Moving onto another amazing aspect of owning a VivoPC, is the addition of the ASUS VivoMouse. The VivoMouse Metallic Edition WT720 is a mouse with 3-in-1 PC control functions. For starters, the VivoMouse can of course be used as a regular optical mouse but you also have an option to use it like a touchpad or even a wireless remote; quite handy right? Starting with its design, you’ll think twice before calling it a mouse as the design of the WT720 is something that’s very different from standard mice and gives it a futuristic look. The addition of metallic accents around the mouse complement to the circular brushed metal pattern on the touchpad of the mouse. The body of the VivoMouse is curved along the sides to give it a unique look. The sides of the mouse have a rubberised texture on them for added grip. The top of the mouse on the other hand has a big circular touchpad which can also be clicked like a big button.
The VivoMouse can be used as a standard optical mouse with the touchpad working for both left and right click buttons and it has a 1200 DPI optical sensor with a 2.4GHz RF wireless link to the VivoPC. Using the VivoMouse like a standard mouse we found the tracking to be very accurate which is a plus indeed.
The VivoMouse has a touchpad which takes up most of the area of its body. This touchpad understands regular touchpad operations like any other touchpad on say for example a laptop. But that’s not the only thing, as the VivoMouse recognizes touchpad gestures (Some gestures are made for and recognized in Windows 8/8.1 only). You can swipe one finger to drag, swipe your finger from the right edge of the mouse to open the charms bar, swipe from the left edge to switch between open apps. You can scroll the edge of the touchpad in a clockwise or counter-clockwise manner to perform scroll operations as well. Since the VivoMouse also recognizes multi-finger gestures, you can pinch-to-zoom, you can swipe with two fingers vertically or horizontally for performing vertical or horizontal scroll operations respectively.
It doesn’t end there as three finger gestures are also recognized by the VivoMouse. ASUS has added a few of their own gestures to open their built-in apps. Swiping up with three fingers will open up the ASUS Mission Manager that categorizes apps between regular desktop apps and windows apps thus allowing the user to pick or switch between apps of their choice very easily which increases producivity. Swiping down with three fingers takes you to the desktop while tapping the touchpad with three fingers opens up the on-screen touch keyboard. The VivoMouse was designed to provide users the ease of using it with one hand and so users can lift up the VivoMouse and use its touchpad with their fingers like they would do with a TV remote. Using the VivoMouse in this way makes it easy to watch and control multimedia content.
The rear of the VivoMouse is also well made and it has a power On/Off switch at the top followed by a Blue LED optical sensor. A quick release latch for the battery compartment exists at the bottom using which the back panel of the mouse snaps off and you can access the batteries or store the mouse receiver inside. One cool thing that we noticed with the ASUS VivoMouse was the fact that though the mouse has space for installing two AA batteries, you can use the mouse with either only a single AA battery or dual AA batteries if you so desire. Using the mouse with only a single battery will lighten the load for better portability while using two AA batteries together lets you use the mouse much longer without running out of juice. The metallic keyboard which is also an optional accessory for the ASUS VivoPC is a great add-on as the keyboard is slim and very well made.
So, this was our take on some of the most interesting features of the ASUS VivoPC. Since this article was more about the VivoMouse and the ASUS SonicMaster speakers, we’ll be covering other aspects of the ASUS VivoPC like benchmark scores, the easy upgrade or expandability option, connectivity features and of course the built-in ASUS apps for our next articles.
You can also take a look at our video of the ASUS VivoPC in which we hook up the PC with our 65” LED TV and talk more about the ASUS VivoMouse and SonicMaster speakers while also giving a demo for both. Watch this space for updates.
Core Specifications for reference:
CPU: Intel Core i5-3337U Processor or Intel Core i3-3217U Processor;
Chipset: Intel HM76;
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000;
Memory: 2 GB Up to 16 GB Dual Channel, DDR3 at 1600/1333MHz;
Storage: 500GB Up to 1TB SATA 6Gb/s Hard Drive 64GB Up to 256GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD;
Wireless Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth V4.0;
Dimensions: 190 x 190 x 56.2 mm (WxDxH);
Weight: 1.2 kg;
Operating System: Windows 8 OR Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit);