Transformer Book T100 £299
12th Sep 2013 | 02:09
The T100 is beyond reasonably priced, but can it get the job done?
Couldn't Asus have given us just one more zero for a nice round Terminator reference? The T100 isn't made of liquid metal, but it can transform all right. Just unveiled by Asus at IDF 2013, the Transformer Book T100 is a slate and keyboard dock combo that's powered by Intel's new "Bay Trail" Atom processor and Windows 8.1.
At the surprisingly low price point of $349.99, it just might give pricier options like the ThinkPad Tablet 2, Acer Iconia W510 and even the Surface Pro a reason to sweat. That's really all Asus is asking for the 32GB model, and it's just $399.99 for the 64GB version. No word on British and Australian pricing just yet.
We had the opportunity to go hands on with the new convertible ultrabook, and while some corners have been cut in the keyboard and trackpad department, there's a lot to like about this Asus offering, especially at this price.
First off, the Transformer Book T100 is a manageable 10-inches. It's easy to hold at that size, and quite light. It weighs in at just 2.2 lbs/1kg, so it's it's actually lighter than an iPad 4.
While 10-inches is very nice for a tablet, it's a bit small for laptop. The keyboard has obviously been shrunk a bit to fit this form factor. The keys are small, and it's not hard to make a typing mistake.
We also weren't crazy about the touchpad, which is the only part of the T100 that came off as cheap. It lets out a hefty ka-chunk when you click, and threatens the already precarious balance of this somewhat top-heavy system.
Issues with the dock aside, the tablet itself feels pretty nice. It is plastic, but it doesn't feel too slick. It has just enough grip to it, although it does attract fingerprints like moths to a flame.
Asus has made some interesting choices with the tablet's buttons as well. In addition to your typical volume rocker and sleep/wake switch, there's a Windows home button for returning to the tiles or the desktop.
That's a step away from the usual Windows 8 design, which puts a physical or software button on the tablet's face. This way you don't have to move your hands from the sides, and there's less risk of smudging the screen or dropping the tablet. It was a little hard to press, which disappointed us, but it's a good idea.
There are a surprising number of ports here. The dock has one USB 3.0 port that's powered, so you can charge your phone or other USB connected devices with it.
The tablet itself has microUSB, mini-HDMI, and even microSD. Yes, this is a device with removable storage, up to 64GB of it, but the lack of an LTE option is too bad on such a light and nimble device.
All that extra space will make it a real media performer, and so will that 1366 x 768 720p display. Now that's not nearly as nice of a screen as Asus put in its Google collaboration the new Nexus 7, and it's below iPad 4 standards as well.
It's a real get what you pay for situation, but it's by no means ugly. Color reproduction seemed solid, and the viewing angles should be good enough for sharing some Netflix with a friend.
Internally, the Asus sports the latest Atom processor. This is the "Bay Trail" chip everyone is talking about, which is Intel's answer to Haswell for the tablet market.
Asus is claiming 11-hours of battery life on the T100. That's practically MacBook Air territory, and a claim we're itching to test.
The T100 we demoed was clocked at 1.34Ghz and packed 2GB of RAM. It was running Windows 8.1, and didn't do a bad job with it either.
We flicked through multiple open apps with ease, and the T100 booted up in less than thirty seconds. That last bit might disappoint tablet users and SSD diehards, but it's not bad for a sub $400 machine.
It's too early to say, but the Transformer Book T100 could be a winner. That low price tag is going to please a lot of people, and Asus made a lot of solid design choices on the tablet side of things.
MicroSD is a big win for media lovers, and so is the clever Windows button placement. There's also no arguing with 11-hours of battery life, if that claim comes through.
It's as a laptop that the T100 shows its flaws. It's a little bit tippy, and the keyboard is nothing we'd want to write a ten-page essay on.
Asus has produced a very promising transforming ultrabook. We're really looking forward to giving it a full review when we get closer to the October 18 release date.