Asus is the original and arguably the best at the convertible tablet, and now it’s back with the one-two punch of the T100: a great convertible tablet with brand-spanking new internal hardware.
What Is It?
The Asus Transformer Book T100 is a 10.1-inch tablet rocking Windows 8.1 and Intel’s new Bay Trail chip. Bay Trail is the fancy name Intel is giving to the next generation of mobile CPUs.
In the case of the Transformer Book T100, you’ll find a new low-power, quad-core 1.33GHz Atom chip under the hood, along with 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and an expandable microSD card slot.
You’ve also got a USB 3.0 port, microUSB port, micro-HDMI out, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, stereo speakers and a Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 bundle pre-installed. All that kit lives underneath the 10.1-inch (1366×768) IPS screen.
The Transformer Book T100 retails from $599 and is available pretty much wherever tablets are sold.
First of all, it’s super-light. Getting around with this device is excellent as it takes up virtually no space in a bag. Sadly, it’s not a pocketable Windows 8.1 tablet like its 8-inch competitors coming onto the market, but that’s life at larger screen sizes.
Asus is heralding the fact that this thing powers up almost instantly from standby mode, which is kind of what it should be doing when you consider that it’s a tablet form factor. It’s still a Windows 8.1 operating system which means that it won’t be instantaneous like Android or iOS platforms are, but it’s nice to see manufacturers thinking about the little things.
And yes, the Transformer Book really is running a full-version of Windows 8.1 and not goddamn Windows RT. Thank your lucky stars.
There’s also a terabyte of Asus web storage available to customers with the purchase of this tablet too. Definitely worth considering if you’re a cloud junkie.
The low-power nature of Intel’s new fancy “Bay Trail” Atom chips means that you’ll get a long battery life with the new Transformer Book. Asus quotes 14 days of standby time on the device, but we were only able to get around a week. While it’s not living up to what it says on the tin, it’s still pretty impressive. You wouldn’t be able to go back to an Intel Core i5-powered Surface Pro 2 after a week and still expect it to have battery for example.
It’s also good to see Asus thinking about how people are going to use this thing by bundling Office Home and Student edition for free with every purchase.
We also got good results out of using the trackpad on the base. Whereas some bundled keyboards and trackpads suffer from quality issues, we rather enjoyed the fast and fluid pad on the Transformer Book.
Sure, the Transformer Book is super-light, but that means it has balance issues when used in laptop mode.
The fact that the base weighs less than the tablet itself means you’re always worried this thing is going to tip over when sitting on your lap at an angle. You don’t want your device killing itself by leaping off your lap, so you’ll try to secure it with your wrists on the palm rests, which tends to hurt your hands after a while.
The tablet also has a pretty average viewing angle thanks to an obnoxiously reflective front panel. That’s disappointing.
It’s a tiny tablet, which means that gaming isn’t the best experience in the world. If you want to get your game on, perhaps stick to a more powerful device.
Sadly, all this comes together to make the whole thing feel kind of cheap.
When you type, your fingers feel like they’re about to punch through the plasticky cheap sounding keyboard. When you hold it you feel it move about in the frame because of how it’s built. You always panic about it falling over. The keys are cramped. There’s no full-sized USB port on the tablet itself, only on the base.
It’s loaded with issues that drag down what could have been a really good 10.1-inch Windows tablet.
Should You Buy It?
This is the netbook of convertible devices: not good enough to be a full-time solution but better for productivity than taking an entertainment and media tablet into a room.
This device is interesting, because it’s one of the first Windows 8.1 devices to come in a 10.1-inch form factor. For a while now, we’ve been seeing 8-inch Windows 8 tablets grab headlines as the new solution for Windows-based mobile productivity, with Ultrabooks packing greater functionality at the larger end of the spectrum.
This then is an inconvenient middle-ground. It’s passable as a standalone tablet running Windows 8.1, but we can’t help but feel like it’s a poor netbook clone posing as a convertible.
Think long and hard about this one. We think there are certainly better devices to drop your cash on.