ASUS R50a UMPC reviewed: underpowered for Vista?

ASUS' R50a UMPC was always taking on a serious challenge: Windows Vista on a 1.33GHz Atom Z520 processor with 1GB of RAM is asking either for nth-degree fine-tuning or just plain trouble.  Initial reports seemed vaguely promising, but Ben over at UMPC Portal has found things less impressive.  Chief criticism – aside from the bloatware, cramped writing area and difficult form-factor – is the sluggish performance.

Otherwise it's the expected drawbacks of pricing and keyboard absence that really undermine the R50a.  The performance issues are already causing consternation about Sony's upcoming VAIO P netbook, which we know – courtesy of the leaked specifications – will also use a 1.33GHz Intel processor and Windows Vista.

Interestingly, an existing R50a owner has already responded in the comments with his own experience of the UMPC.  Contrasting significantly to Ben's experience, Arthur has been pleased with his R50a's performance; it's capable of playing back iTunes video and Slingbox streaming video without skipping, and the graphics and gaming graphics Vista performance scores were both higher than those on the UMPC Portal review 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 ... 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" Arthur, ASUS R50a user