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ASUS 10.1 tablet with detachable keyboard reviews

Asus Transformer Book T100T Review and Ratings  April 12, 2017 – 09:11 pm

Convertible. Detachable. Affordable?

We've grown familiar with the first two words above in this age of Windows 8 laptop/tablet hybrids, reviewing several notebooks like Acer's Iconia W510 and HP's Envy x2 whose touch screens detach to become tablets. But the third word? Not so much.

There are plenty of worthy alternatives to an Apple iPad and a third-party keyboard dock, but not many jaw-dropping bargains. The 11.6-inch Envy x2 is $649. The 10.1-inch Iconia W510 is $599. Lenovo's Miix 10 is $479 plus $100 for the keyboard.

Well, Asus wants to drop your jaw. The new Transformer Book T100T is $399 including the keyboard. Including a 10.1-inch touch screen, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of SSD storage. Including Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office 2013 Home & Student (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, though not Outlook). And including a new quad-core Intel Atom (codenamed “Bay Trail”) processor that gives it roughly twice the performance of previous-generation Atom tablets like the abovementioned.

What's the catch? Our test unit had only about 33GB of free storage out of its 64GB (the reason we're ignoring the T100T model with just 32GB of storage, priced at 9). Like other hybrids with only 2GB of memory, it's fine for productivity apps but unsuited for demanding multimedia creation (it was able to start Adobe Photoshop CS6 but unable to apply all the filters and effects in our benchmark test, for example). The keyboard, as you'd expect on a 10-inch-screened system, is cramped and takes some getting used to. Most annoyingly, our test unit's touch pad was prone to skip and sleep instead of glide and tap.

But overall, the Transformer Book T100T is nothing less than what Asus chairman Jonney Shih called it at the product's introduction—the modern-day reincarnation of the company's pioneering Eee PC netbook, and a hybrid that's going to be a smash hit and force aggressive pricing from other vendors. It's also the death knell for Windows RT, but that's another story.

Design

The Transformer Book T100T (to give it the name an Asus rep recommended; we've also seen it billed as just the T100, and the box label refers to model T100TA-C1-GR) is cased in dark gray, fingerprint-smudge-prone plastic with black keyboard keys, a black bezel around the screen, and a silver-gray docking hinge centered above the keyboard. The hinge forms a natural handgrip when the laptop is closed.

To undock the tablet, you push the release button in the center of the hinge with one hand and pull the screen up and away with the other; to dock, you center the screen over the hinge and push down firmly (it helps if the base is on a desk or table rather than your lap). The mechanism works smoothly and holds securely, although we wish the hinge tilted just a few degrees further back in laptop mode.

Features

The screen and base weigh 1.2 pounds apiece, making the Asus competitive as a tablet and lighter than most ultrabooks (2.4 pounds) as a laptop. The tablet measures 6.7 by 10.4 by 0.41 inches; docking increases the system thickness to 0.93 inch, so the T100T is still easy to slip into a small or crowded briefcase.

Looking at the tablet in landscape mode, the power button is on the top edge (where we accidentally pressed it once while closing the lid in laptop mode):

A volume rocker and Windows button for getting back to the Start screen are on the left edge (there's a Windows logo centered below the display, but it's not a button as on other tablets):

On the right edge, you'll find a microSD card slot for bolstering the tablet's internal storage, a Micro USB port, a Micro HDMI port that Asus says supports up to 2, 560x1, 600 output, and a headphone jack:

The Micro USB port is used for charging the tablet's battery. Asus supplies a USB to AC adapter and Micro USB to USB cable—at just three feet, it's too short for working while recharging unless you pull up a chair next to the AC outlet. We had some difficulty plugging the cable into the tablet, partly due to a tight port and partly due to our occasionally trying to plug the USB cable into the HDMI port (there are no legends or labels on the ports).

This side view shows the USB 3.0 port on the base. We never used the Windows Start button below the volume rocker, tapping the Windows 8.1 desktop's new Start button instead.

The base or dock doesn't supply a second battery—just the keyboard, touch pad, and one full-sized USB 3.0 port on the left side. The keyboard is somewhat squished, netbook-style—keys are short, the right Shift key is small, and the A through apostrophe span is 7.4 inches versus the 8 inches of full-sized keyboards—but it's definitely typeable, with adequate travel and pretty fair tactile feel. We were cruising at a good speed, if not our best speed, within a half hour of taking the T100T out of the box.

The keyboard is more typeable than it looks, but the touch pad is stiff and missing in action.

By then, unfortunately, we'd also discovered our main complaint with the Transformer Book: The touch pad repeatedly seemed to go to sleep, ignoring our swipes and taps until we scrubbed a finger back and forth a few times to wake it up. After that, the pad responded smoothly to both routine navigation and gestures such as two-finger scrolling, and of course we found ourselves using the touch screen rather than the pad for many tasks. But the intermittent touch pad was extremely frustrating. A USB mouse worked fine, but having to carry a mouse with such a compact laptop defeats the purpose of ultra-mobility. We await a driver update or other fix.

The display offers five-point rather than 10-point touch, which we don't consider a drawback since we can't imagine multiple simultaneous users gathered around the tablet. It responds swiftly and smoothly.

We've complained about minimal 1, 366x768 resolution on larger laptop screens, but it's nice and sharp on a 10.1-inch panel. (In fact, Asus gives you two extra pixels; our screen captures measured 1, 368x768.) The IPS (in-plane switching) screen is bright, with deep blacks and fairly rich colors as well as generous viewing angles, although somewhat glossy and reflection-prone.

Source: www.computershopper.com

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