Look and feel
The Asus Transformer Book T100t is a glossy ten-inch tablet that converts into a mini-laptop via the bundled dock. The keyboard’s on the snug side but a great inclusion, and the whole lot is solidly constructed, although a little heavy and prone to picking up fingerprints.
Ease of Use
As long as you get along with the keyboard, and ignore the touchpad and use the touchscreen instead, the Transformer Book is a highly usable mobile device.
As well as full Windows 8 you get Microsoft Office bundled. There’s no rear-facing camera but it’s no great loss, and the front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera does the job.
Intel’s Atom processor runs apps well, and can even handle some modern PC games, although it’s not suited to graphically intense tasks.
The Asus Transformer Book will last a full eight hours when streaming video, and even longer with more conservative use.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/12/2013 12:06:44 PM
Ease of use
Great battery life;
Compact keyboard with dinky touchpad;
Screen could be brighter;
Tablet is hefty
At just £349 for a full-blown Windows 8 tablet, which converts neatly into a mini-laptop via a nifty keyboard dock, the Asus Transformer Book T100t offers damn impressive value for money. And with Microsoft Office bundled, this is a highly affordable way to stay productive on the move.
Windows into the mind
We’ve seen a slew of Windows tablets this year, the majority rocking Windows RT, which is a tablet-friendly, slightly-cut-back version of Windows 8. If you’re after greater flexibility, such as the ability to download and run any third-party Windows apps you fancy, then full Windows 8 is what you need, and with the Transformer T100t that’s what you get. The fact that it also comes pre-loaded with Office 2013 – complete with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote etc – means that you basically get a fully-stacked productivity device for the cost of a bog-standard ten-inch tablet.
There’s a low-voltage Intel Atom processor stuck away inside the Transformer T100t tablet, backed up by 2GB of RAM for dependable budget performance. On the whole our apps ran well, including the Office suite - and you can play with two apps side-by-side with no noticeable slowdown. We tried downloading some PC games too, and the likes of Lego LOTR ran with a surprisingly slick frame rate.
However, if you need to use some beefy design software or anything that’s graphically intensive, the Transformer is likely to struggle thanks to its integrated graphics. The Microsoft Surface Pro packs an Intel Core processor for greater performance, although brace yourself for a much steeper cost – Microsoft’s baby will cost you twice as much as the T100t.
You can run two apps side-by-side, including standard Windows software downloaded from the web
Atom processors are famously great when it comes to battery life (remember those old netbooks, which used to last a gajillion years between charges?), and the Transformer Book can easily last the full day when you’re on the road. We managed over eight hours of life even when streaming video over Wi-Fi, and only some intensive gaming sessions wipe out the battery even quicker.
Slot the tablet into the handy dock, and suddenly it resembles a miniature laptop, complete with dinky keyboard and touchpad. The board itself is very similar to previous Asus efforts, such as the Transformer Pad. The keys stretch almost the full width of the dock but space is limited, so anyone used to full-sized desktop keyboards will likely need a bedding-in period. We’d recommend trying out in a store before committing, to make sure you get on with the reduced scale.
That said, Asus really has made the most of the space on offer. The keys are isolated from neighbours to try and limit mistakes, and you get a full complement of function keys, including Windows shortcuts. Our one bugbear is the way the keys are sunk into the dock, which leaves a ridge in front of the spacebar. We had to adjust our typing posture to compensate, which took some time to get used to.
There’s an obligatory teeny touchpad housed in front of the keyboard, but as you might expect, it’s too dinky to comfortably use. We quickly gave up on it and simply prodded the touchscreen instead to move the cursor and select options. The hinges are stiff enough to make this a viable option, without rocking the device all over the place. The dock also adds a full-sized USB 3.0 port so you can attach a mouse (or any other PC peripheral).
Remove the Transformer Book from its dock and you have a ten-inch tablet, which looks rather slick despite the cost. You may not get the gorgeous metallic backing of the Transformer Pad, complete with swirly design, but it’s a neat looking business machine – provided you don’t mind fingerprints and other smudges decorating the glossy surface. It’s a solidly built device, but it does feel a little weighty compared to Apple’s new iPad Air – not surprising, given that tablet’s impressively light construction. There’s no physical Windows desktop key on the tablet’s exterior (the symbol you see in our photos is a result of this being pre-release), so we had to use the settings bar (brought up by flicking the right edge of the screen) to return to our desktop.
The IPS screen is a 10.1-incher, giving you plenty of viewing space when you’re working on your docs, or for kicking back with a movie if you’ve given up on the spreadsheets. It’s not the most vibrant screen we’ve seen, nor the brightest, which can pose a problem when you’ve got glare reflecting back at you. However, the 1366 x 768 pixel resolution is reasonably crisp (even if it’s not strong enough to show off HD visuals), and viewing angles don’t pose a problem. A Mini HDMI port allows you to hook up to a monitor or TV screen, if you need a bigger picture.
To trim down the cost of the Transformer Book T100t, Asus has left out a rear-facing camera. That suits us just fine, as we still don’t see the point in taking photos with a tablet – only the more expensive devices have a capable camera, and even then it’s an awkward way to shoot your mates. However, the Transformer Book does have a front-facing camera, which is far handier. We’re not just talking about shooting selfies either – you can chat with friends or business associates over the web. It’s only a basic 1.2-megapixel camera, so images are a little grainy, but we were generally well-lit even in rooms with more sombre lighting. You can record video and shoot pics too, and taking a photo actually results in a number of shots being captured, so you can pick your favourite.
You get 32GB of storage space to fill up with apps and media, which these days is quickly wiped out by a decent-sized music or video collection. Thankfully there’s a microSD memory card slot to expand, so you don’t need to rely too heavily on cloud storage.
Asus’ Transformer tablet-cum-laptop devices tend to cost closer to the five hundred pound mark, so snapping one up for £349 with full Windows 8 is a bit of a bobby dazzler. Factor in the bundled copy of Office, plus the excellent battery life, and you can stay productive all day - even if you’re stuck in commuter hell. Just don’t expect earth-shattering performance or crystal clear HD visuals, and make sure you get on with the dinky keyboard.
You can grab the Transformer T100t from John Lewis and the DSG (Dixons) group right now.