The Bottom Line
Nov 12 2013 - ASUS looks to be redefining the budget computing market by providing a very well rounded option for those that want to have a tablet that can also act as a laptop system with a full version of Windows for under $400. The system offers an experience very close to many low cost ultraportable systems but with more flexibility. The design still has a few quirks that could be improved to make it even better though as the start button location is not intuitive for those that have used previous Windows tablets and it can take forever to get it fully charged once it is run down.
- Full Windows With Office Software
- Good Performance From Atom Processor
- Includes Keyboard Dock
- Awkward Start Button Location
- Very Slow to Charge
- Keyboard is a Bit Small
- Intel Atom Z3470 Quad Core Processor
- 2GB DDR3 Memory
- 32GB Storage
- 10.1" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display
- 1.2 Megapixel Front Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- microUSB 2.0, USB 3.0, Dock Connector, microSD Card Slot, micro-HDMI, 3.5mm Audio
- 10.3" x 6.7" x .4" (Tablet) or .6" (Tablet + Dock) @ 1.2 lbs (Tablet), 2.3 lbs (Tablet + Dock)
- Windows 8.1
Review - ASUS Transformer Book T100
Nov 12 2013 - The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is kind of hard to classify. In many cases, it is a strict tablet like the previous ASUS Transformer products but it is also a hybrid laptop because it comes with the keyboard dock included unlike the past models. The difference is that the keyboard dock essentially just provides the user with a keyboard, trackpad and a USB 3.0 port. It does not feature additional battery likely to reduce the cost and keep the weight down. With just the tablet, it is relatively thin at just .4-inches and just .6-inches when the dock is attached. Starting weight is 1.2 pounds which nearly doubles to 2.3 when the dock is used.
Overall, the design of the ASUS Transformer Book T100 is very utilitarian. It doesn't really drift that far away from previous designs but it certain uses more affordable materials. The back is made up of a glossy plastic with a greyish black color. It is serviceable but nothing special either in terms of feel or looks. The one distinct difference is that the Start button common to most Windows 8 tablets is not on the front but instead on the side of the tablet next to the volume controls which can take a bit of time to get used to.
Powering the Transformer Book T100 is the new Intel Atom Z3470 quad core processor. This is a first for the Atom processor lineup that usually lacks many features compared to the standard Intel mobile processors. It certainly offers better performance that is typically found in a ARM based tablet such as the Microsoft Surface 2 running its Windows 8 RT software. In fact, this comes close to what many low cost laptop options might have with some of the Pentium or AMD A4 mobile processors. This means it is more than suitable for your standard Windows software of browsing the web, watching media and productivity software. You still would want a traditional style laptop if you want to either frequently multitask or use more demanding software.
Storage is one area that might be a problem with the Transformer Book T100, particularly if you look at getting the 32GB version because of its low price. The Windows operating system and base applications use up most of this providing little available space for user applications and data. The 64GB version which is $400 instead of $350 would definitely be something to consider. There is a microSD card slot available for expanding the storage and is highly advisable. There is a micro USB port on the tablet but the dock does feature a full size USB 3.0 port for use with external storage devices when it is really necessary.
The screen for the Transformer Book T100 is your typical 10.1-inch size but it does feature an IPS technology that provides it with nice colors and very wide viewing angles which is nice to see in such a low cost option. Sure, it does sacrifice the resolution a bit with just 1366x768 which is less than say the Microsoft Surface 2 but it does offer a bit more than the Acer Iconia W3-810 or the Dell Venue Pro 8. The one downside is that the screen is a bit on the dark side which will make using the system in some conditions such as bright sunlight more difficult. Thankfully the new Atom processor does feature an Intel HD Graphics instead of the anemic GMA technology of the past. This means it won't be suitable for 3D PC gaming but it does offer some benefits with accelerating non-3D windows programs.
Normally I don't talk about a keyboard on a tablet because they don't have one but the Transformer Book T100 does come wit hteh dock included in its price. It uses an isolated design layout that is typical to many systems and offers better than expect travel and feel compared to your standard keyboard for a tablet. The problem is that the small size of the dock mean that the keys are extremely tightly packed which makes it very hard to use when you have large fingers like myself. The trackpad is a nice addition and it works well most of the time but many people will find it easier and faster to use the touchscreen instead.
The battery of the Trasnformer Book T100 is a 31WHr internal battery inside of the tablet portion of the system. As mentioned before, the dock portion does not feature extra battery like past Transformer docks. In digital video playback tests, the system was able to run for over eight and a half hours which is nice to see from a quad core processor running the full version of Windows. Now this does put it behind the ten hours of running time from the Microsoft Surface 2 but in terms of the full Windows 8 based tablets, it is slightly ahead of the competition. Be warned that it uses the microUSB port on the tablet for charging and that this can take a very long time to get it fully charged.
With a starting price of just $350 for the 32GB version, the ASUS Transformer Bookt T100 is an incredibly affordable Windows tablet let alone a hybrid laptop. Sure, it does not offer the same level of performance as many budget class laptops because of its Atom processor but it has come a long way and does offer enough performance for many looking for basic computing experience. In terms of the Windows based tablets, there is no competition as the system just has more to offer in terms of performance and features than the others. The Acer Iconia W3-810 has a smaller screen, slower processor and weighs nearly as much. The Dell Venue 8 Pro is much slower as it uses the same Atom processor, is smaller and has a lower price tag but it does not feature a keyboard dock or as high of resolution display. The problem may be finding the T100 as availability has been difficult.