Since its recent arrival on the market everybody has been raving about the Asus Transformer Book T100. What you have is a 10.1″ tablet running the full version of Windows 8.1 (i.e. not the “reduced” Windows RT), complete with attachable keyboard and all for just £350. A bargain.
Let’s take a look at what you get in greater detail.
The T100 is using the latest iteration of Intel’s budget Atom processor, code named Bay Trail. This quad core device vastly improves the multi-processing capabilities of the processor and includes the Intel HD GPU, as seen in Intel Core processors. It’s very nippy and I saw no issues in use at all. Equally, the tablet barely got warn, which is always a good sign.
It comes with just 2GB of DDR3 memory but has 32GB of eMMC flash storage. Bluetooth and N-band WiFi tops off the hardware capabilities.
The tablet part of the T100 sports a rather nice quality IPS touch screen running at a resolution of 1366×768. In use, it’s very smooth with good contrast and colours.
Around the edge is the power button, volume control and a button that simulates the “Windows” button. Although the instructions shows a quick press of the power button should be sufficient I found this wasn’t the case – I usually had to hold it a few seconds before it would switch on. A bit of clarity would have been nice to have avoided confusion and frustration.
Connections wise, you have a Micro SD card slot, to supplement the provided memory, Micro USB port for charging the device, Micro HDMI and combined microphone/headphone socket. The front sports a 1.2Mp camera. Stereo speakers and a microphone are hidden around the device and a hidden light sensor ensures that screen brightness is kept to an appropriate level.
The whole thing weighs 1.2 lbs, mightier than, say, an iPad but still quite acceptable. However, like the iPad, the device is sealed so there’s no way, for instance, to replace the battery.
Docking neatly into the underside of the tablet (and released by a single button) the keyboard, to me, is the weak point of the whole thing. As with any 10.1″ device the keyboard is naturally cramped – however by using Scrabble tile keys the size of them has been reduced further and I found it difficult to type on. It wasn’t very comfortable either, with short travel on the individual keys.
The trackpad is small but perfectly functional. However, doing away with any buttons, you click the trackpad itself – each click is a very loud, plastic, noise which really makes the device sound cheap and only seconds away from breaking.
One good thing is that when the tablet is docked, the keyboard allows the screen to be angled just nicely – many may severely restrict the angle or even limit to one of a small number of positions (yes, I’m talking about you Microsoft Surface).
On one side of the keyboard is a solitary USB 3 port.
Asus quote an 11 hour battery life although other reviews have found this to be slightly sub-10 hours. However, to achieve this WiFi is usually turned off the screen brightness turned right down. In real use, with WiFi on, the screen on automatic brightness and the sound at a lowish level so I can hear the Windows pings and pops, I struggled to get 6 hours out of it, which is no where near as impressive.
Re-charging the battery is performed by a supplied Micro USB wall charger, which pumps out 2 MwH. By using Micro USB it’s oft quoted that this means you can use any smartphone charger you have to hand but I found that these, usually around 1 MwH, only provided enough to keep the tablet running – with it switched on it wouldn’t charge, so you actually have to turn off the T100 to get it to recharge the battery.
Sadly, Asus didn’t think to provide any kind of fold-able plug, instead providing a very bulky USB mains plug instead, making it very “unportable”. The first thing I’d do is order a 2 MwH ThinPlug from Amazon (about £10) and combine that with a retractable ReTrak USB cable.
Unfortunately, the battery is where I had the greatest problems. Within a week of relatively light use I found that maximum capacity of the battery had dropped nearly 13%. Only using it for a few hours per day I was finding I needed to re-charge it every couple of days, as so much was being drained whilst the device was in “sleep” mode. In fact, one night I turned it off completely whilst I had 16% battery remaining. In the morning it wouldn’t switch on and, connecting the charger, I found it why – it was now completely depleted. Whilst off? To me that suggests a battery problems – I’ve seen no-one else reporting the same problems so I may simply have a faulty device. However, bear in mind that I recently returned my Nexus 7, also made by Asus, as it had power problems.
I have attempted to report these issues but Asus support, notoriously bad, have lived up to their reputation – response has been slow and unhelpful.
In the Box
The box is quite a bit larger than it needs to be – the keyboard and screen are packaged separately and flat – most of the room is for the bulky charger. Otherwise, all you get is a micro USB cable and some leaflets. One of these leaflets, though, is the serial number for a full version of Office 2013 Student Edition – that really adds to the value for money offered by this product.
A lot of plastic wrap surrounds the keyboard and tablet and each of the other items (cable, charger, etc) are also individually packaged and tie-wrapped. A bit of overkill considering they’re all separated by sections of the packaging.
They’ve kept the leaflet production down by not including a manual – this is provided as a PDF but is accessed via an icon on the Windows task bar. It’s not at all obvious, which is a shame.
A Windows tablet, running the full x86 version of Windows 8.1, for just £350 is a bargain. And it comes with a full version of Office 2013 too. However, the keyboard quality is poor, the trackpad “clicking” is embarrassing and I have serious issues with the battery.
Unlike, it seems, almost every other review I’m not going to rave about the T100. It’s good but, well, not that good.
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