Vye mini-v S37 review

£799
Price when reviewed

While this tiny convertible tablet may look like an ultra-mobile PC, Vye is keen to stress the differences. There’s a traditional QWERTY keyboard for a start and, unlike true UMPCs such as Samsung’s Q1 Ultra (web ID: 120480), it has none of Microsoft’s consumer-friendly Origami software onboard.

Vye mini-v S37 review

As a piece of hardware, the Vye mini-v S37 is distinctive. The nine-cell battery gives it a bizarre, elongated side profile, and the corners sport a rather out-of-date curve. On the upside, its chunky curves give it the impression of more solidity, and it feels pleasingly robust. But, as a laptop, its most notable attribute is its sheer tininess. You could easily hide it under a copy of PC Pro, and even with its chunky six-cell battery it weighs only 1.1kg. You’ll struggle to find a space you can’t fit it in, making it ideal for those times when your carry-on bag threatens to burst at the seams.

The big battery helps with portability as well – our battery tests revealed a light-use time of 5hrs 16mins, dropping to 3hrs 34mins under non-stop use. Although 1.1kg is light for a notebook, it’s still a drawback when it comes to the Vye’s main selling point – when folded back into slate mode and used in the crook of the arm. More than about ten minutes of use will mean a stiff arm.

In use, the keyboard is adequate, but with each key barely bigger than a finger nail, you can’t get up to decent word-per-minute rates without a dissatisfying number of errors. The touchpad and asymmetric mouse buttons, despite looking tiny, work more successfully. Moving into slate mode, the 7in touchscreen is a good example of its type, although a little glossy for use in front of bright lights or sunlight. The screen is accurate and sensitive; bordering on overly so, with the screen responding to every touch you make – frustrating if you accidentally brush it with your finger while writing. Vista’s superb tablet features work as reliably as ever, though, with the handwriting recognition being particularly impressive. The stylus is housed securely in a nook in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

The wide bezel of the screen may not be attractive, but it’s put to good use – there’s a four-way pad for controlling the cursor, plus a fingertip-controlled joystick for the mouse. On the right-hand side are a host of buttons, including launchers for Windows Media Player, and the 0.3-megapixel webcam, a screen-orientation control, and an Enter key. It all makes controlling Windows from slate mode a cinch.

Unfortunately, the presence of Windows itself causes a distraction. Vista Home Premium running on a desktop or standard notebook PC may be an attractive proposition, but it presents some very real problems running on a machine such as this. Besides many websites coming a cropper in the cramped conditions of the 1,024 x 600 pixel screen, navigating through Vista’s sidebar-augmented Windows folders starts to feel restricted. But our biggest reservations are performance related, with the ultra-low voltage 800MHz Intel A110 processor struggling to keep up with the demands Vista places on it. Single instances of applications won’t cause many headaches, but if you’re opening several browser windows, plus an application, and an internet security suite, the S37 will slow to a crawl. The 1GB of RAM is just about acceptable, but an overall score of just 0.25 in our application benchmarks says it all. The cut-down, bespoke Linux OS on the Asus Eee PC (web ID: 137289) – or even Windows XP Tablet Edition – would be a much better idea on this hardware.

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