We just met with Nvidia here at Computex Taipei to take a more in-depth look at the Asus Tablet 600, the first Windows RT device to be announced. While no other OEMs have announced RT machines so far, Nvidia says its Tegra 3 system-on-chip will be powering each one at launch, and the company expects Microsoft's ARM-powered OS to be made available at the same time as Windows 8.
Nvidia wanted to emphasize the early state of the Tablet 600, but it looked pretty much ready for primetime to us — it's an attractive device either by itself or when paired with the keyboard dock. Its plastic build doesn't feel quite as premium as something like the Transformer Prime or the company's Zenbooks, but it seems well-constructed nonetheless. The 10.1-inch Super IPS screen is bright and colorful with great viewing angles, and though the 1366 x 768 resolution might give pixel density enthusiasts pause for thought, it still looks quite sharp with all the straight lines of Microsoft's Metro UI. Use this machine in its clamshell configuration and you're unlikely to even notice.
The Tablet 600 is running the Release Preview of Windows RT, which obviously hasn't been made as publicly available as its x86 counterpart. Overall, the Tegra 3 seems to keep up with the preview OS's demands pretty admirably at the moment. Scrolling in webpages was fast and responsive, if perhaps not quite as smooth as on recent iOS devices. The Tablet 600 looks like it'll outperform iOS on multitasking in some areas, however, with the same ability as Windows 8 to run Metro applications in smaller sections of the screen — for example, you could have a small column of email messages or tweets on the side with the rest of the screen devoted to your browser window. Overall, it doesn't look like there'll be much reason to expect less than parity with x86 devices, at least as far as the base Metro experience goes.
The question of potential limitations to the desktop environment remains mostly unanswered by Nvidia, with the company saying that it hasn't heard anything from Microsoft on the subject. It's still unclear whether or not the Metro browser will ship with Flash support in Windows RT, for example. If you can live without x86-only apps, Nvidia claims that devices like the Tablet 600 should achieve much greater performance and efficiency than Atom-powered machines like Asus's Tablet 810. We weren't able to see the touch-optimized version of Microsoft Office that will ship with RT, but Nvidia said it would be a big selling point for these devices — the company believes that there's a big need for productivity in tablets that isn't being filled by the market today. Nvidia thinks that Windows RT will be a solid gaming platform, too. Tegra 3-powered tablets will be able to access apps optimized directly for the system-on-chip in a dedicated Tegra Zone area of the Windows Marketplace, similar to efforts Nvidia has made on Android.
Questions still remain around Windows RT, and indeed we were expecting to see a greater showing from manufacturers this week at Computex. However, if our brief experience with the Asus Tablet 600 (and Nvidia's word) is anything to go by, it looks likely to provide a smooth, efficient mobile experience without much in the way of compromise - and one very different to both iOS and Android.