Review: Asus VivoBook W202 with Windows 10 S

Although it's aimed at the education market, this sturdy laptop -- and the locked-down Windows 10 S operating system it runs on -- has potential for business as well.

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When Microsoft announced its new Windows 10 S operating system in May, the company put security front and center. To keep rogue programs from entering an organization’s digital ecosystem, the OS runs all software in a protected container and allows only apps that have been vetted by the Microsoft Windows Store and comply with Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) standards to be installed.

Although Microsoft pitched Windows 10 S as an OS for the education market (think of it as Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome OS), IT leaders and analysts immediately saw its locked-down nature as promising for business as well. The value-add for companies is lower-priced systems that operate in the familiar Windows environment while restricting the software an employee can load.

Windows 10 S is currently available on only a handful of devices, including Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, which starts at $999 and certainly doesn’t fall in the “lower-priced systems” category. Much more affordable systems are available from HP, Dell and Acer, with more on the way from Samsung, Toshiba and others. We got our hands on the $279 Asus VivoBook W202, to see how it — and Windows 10 S — performs for business.

Design

Measuring 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.9 in. and weighing 2.7 lb., the Asus VivoBook W202 may not be the thinnest laptop in the office, but it is surprisingly small, light and easy to carry from room to room. With its small two-prong AC adapter, the W202’s travel weight is a modest 2.9 lb.

Its 11.6-in. display shows wide-XGA (1366 x 768-pixel) resolution, and the matte finish reduces stray reflections, such as from an office’s overhead lighting. There is no HD (1920 x 1080) option. Although the hinge opens to 180 degrees so the device can be laid flat on a tabletop, its display is not a touch screen.

The dark blue and gray plastic case has a sealed keyboard and soft rubber inserts around the case’s edge to absorb some of the shock of an impact. According to the company, it’s tough enough to survive 47-in. drops and 2.2 oz. of liquid spilled on the keyboard.

Should something break, the VivoBook W202 is easy to service. It took me 5 minutes to remove the 10 screws underneath to open the system up for repairing or replacing the battery or keyboard.

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