Yesterday I was asked if I had a spare tablet to loan to a colleague heading off to the USA, their iPad had taken a tumble and as a result its screen was doing a passable impression of crazy paving. I offered up my 2013 vintage Asus Vivotab Smart, a machine that launched with Windows 8.
Now this was lightweight hardware even when it was new, packing an older Atom processor, 2GB of RAM and a pedestrian eMMC.
It was good enough to be my main computing device for about a year though and has some nice enough features - a pleasantly bright screen and iPad matching portability being the two main ones.
As I hadn't really used the Vivotab Smart since updating it to Windows 10 at launch, so I pulled it out and did a clean install of the latest Windows 10 Creators Update release.
What an eye opener that turned out to be. This device absolutely flies. Sure there are multitasking limitations, understandable on that limited amount of memory. However this could certainly make for a pretty handy portable companion device - an iPad for Windows lovers.
Windows 10 really does an amazing job of making older hardware feel like new again. I knew that already though, as my kids have a Sony Vaio Tap 20, a machine which also launched with Windows 8. The difference here is that the Vivotab Smart has lightweight hardware designed for portability not performance. What Microsoft has managed to achieve here is doubly impressive.
There's also an interesting counterpoint to the iPad here and the way that Windows and iOS tablets are supported long term. On Monday Apple announced iOS 11 and ended support for the iPad 4, a machine of a similar vintage to the Vivotab Smart, which runs Windows 10 like dream.
For all that Microsoft leaves itself open to criticism with strange business decisions it would be hard to argue that the company could have done much better with Windows 10.
On the hardware side the Vivotab Smart still stands up. Especially the battery, usually the first casualty on older hardware. This still runs for a full day of usage from a single charge. It's not going to wow you with its gaming performance, but then that was just as true when it was new.
It's rare to revisit a piece of technology that is this old and still usable. Unheard of to do so and still be impressed by its performance.
My colleague will carry the Vivotab Smart across the Pacific and enjoy a quality tablet experience. Courtesy of the great work Microsoft has done on Windows 10.