(Short) Hands-on with an Asus Transformer Book T100


A colleague of mine recently got himself an Asus Transformer Book T100 (taking into consideration my suggestion over other tablets of similar price) some days ago. He was kind enough to give it to me for a short test drive over an evening.
 
Asus T100 next to a TV remote control
 
The device consists of two parts; the tablet and its detachable keyboard. It is small in size. Just imagine a 10-inch tablet with an equally thick keyboard, which also acts as a cover for the tablet (when closed). It is quite light, too. It seems sturdy enough for everyday use, even though the keyboard is rather “plastic-y”. The keyboard detaches and attaches really easy, with the use of a button. The specs of the tablet are basic: 2GB RAM, 32GB storage (expandable through a microSD slot), 1,3GHz CPU etc. and it comes with Windows 8.1 (not RT, the full flavor!) and MS Office Home installed. You can find detailed specs of the tablet at the ASUS website.
 
 
1. The tablet/screen
The tablet is also the screen of the device and is very clear. Featuring a resolution of 1366×768, it has vibrant colors and is bright enough; I didn’t have the chance to check it under direct sunlight. Sometimes I found buttons (e.g. closing a window) to be rather small for my rather fat fingers. The tablet has a power button, a microSD slot, a volume key (+/-), an audio jack input, a webcam of 1.2MP, mic, microHDMI, micro USB and USB 3.0 etc.
 
It felt rather nice to hold, and switching from landscape to portrait mode was pretty fast.
 
The ASUS T100 sitting on top of my 17-inch laptop!
 
2. The keyboard
The keyboard has the same size and weight as the tablet. It felt nice to type and I got used to its small factor in a few minutes. I would have liked it more if the keys were the same style as my Acer Aspire One 751h, as they would have benefited from a rather larger size (instead of having large spaces among them). The keyboard does not feature any ports.
 
When attached to the keyboard, the screen has a limited space to move but still the max angle was convenient to use. In addition, when at the maximum angle, the keyboard raises a bit, making typing even easier. The touchpad was also nice and responsive and I am sure that with a little tweaking it would feel like my laptop one.
 
3. Performance
I did not have the tablet for enough time to check the performance thoroughly. The first time I used it it felt a little laggy, something that I did not expect. However, when I spent some more time with it, I did the following:
  • I installed all pending Windows Updates;
  • Disabled System Restore;
  • Selected “Optimize for performance” by disabling all the optional user interface features;
  • Started using metro apps instead of the Desktop ones;
  • Restarted a couple of times

After that, the tablet seemed much more responsive and exhibited no lag at all. YouTube videos played pretty well even at 720p. The overall experience was (as expected) much better than the one of my Acer Aspire One 751h (1,3GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, GMA500 GPU, 160GB HD). I should note here that the T100 came only with a basic setup (not many apps installed), so I guess that if resources-hungry processes run in the background (e.g. Skype & Dropbox, a common scenario of my Linux-powered netbook), performance might be a challenging factor.

 

4. Final notes

Getting my hands on a T100 was a long-term wish that came true. I usually travel quite often and I carry with me either my Linux-powered (Peppermint OS 5) netbook (portable but still has compatibility issues when it comes to MS Office documents, which I use a lot for my work), or my Windows 8-powered 17-inch Toshiba Satellite, which is really bulky and heavy; not the most portable laptop available. I was looking for a portable device (probably an ultrabook) which would allow me to be fully productive during my trips and at the same time would not hurt my back (nor my pocket!). 

After my short experience, I would say that the Asus T100 would fulfill my requirements and would allow me to perform basic tasks and be fully compatible with my work laptop. It has the advantage of being a tablet (e.g. for checking emails and open documents during a meeting) and can become a small laptop when keyboard is attached (when e.g. one needs to write long documents/deliverables, respond to several emails, prepare slides etc.). It is highly portable and versatile and at about 330 euros for the 32GB version, it is also rather budget-friendly. However, a microSD card of at least 32GB for increasing the storage as well as a micro to normal USB adapter (for using e.g. a mouse and an external hard disk, USB flash drive etc.) is required.

I would probably be more happy in terms of performance with an ultrabook which might provide better specs and a similar battery life for a premium but I guess that I would miss the versatility and portability of the Asus T100. With the limited storage space I would have to make some sacrifices (e.g. I wouldn’t be able to sync my full Dropbox set of folders and the ones from OneDrive (as I do now) and I might face some performance issues when trying to multitask as I am used in my laptop but If I had to select between these two I guess that I would go for a T100 😉

 

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