ASUS' $299 hybrid pill is a good suggestion that's previous its prime
When ASUS launched the unique Transformer Guide T100 again in 2013, it had a comparatively novel idea on its arms: a low-value Home windows pill that would double as a laptop computer because of its included dock. The corporate clearly thinks it is nonetheless a good suggestion, because it lately launched the Transformer Guide T100HA with extra highly effective guts and Home windows 10. However does this idea nonetheless maintain water in 2015, when 2-in-1 Home windows laptops are commonplace and cellular tablets are more and more highly effective? I have been dwelling with the T100HA for a number of weeks to seek out out, and the reality is that it is not as candy a deal because it as soon as appeared. There are nonetheless many issues to love about ASUS’ hybrid, however you will need to make some compromises that should not actually be crucial in trendy hardware.
A few of these sacrifices are clear from the outset, beginning with the design. Externally, the T100HA hasn’t modified a lot in comparison with the Home windows eight-based mostly T100. It nonetheless has that acquainted 10.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 show and matching keyboard dock. The most important variations are the addition of a USB Sort-C port (which is not very helpful to me proper now, until I purchase a new Nexus telephone) and a button-free pill launch mechanism. It’s extremely straightforward to hold round — the system weighs 2.three kilos with the dock — however it additionally leaves me making an attempt do all my computing on a small, low-decision show. I discovered this acceptable in pure pill mode, however the laptop computer mode felt cramped, like an uncomfortable flashback to the netbook’s heyday. It is time to give the T100 collection a correct redesign, ASUS, beginning with the display.
The signature keyboard dock does not assist with that claustrophobic feeling. It is totally potential to sort shortly on this smallest of Transformer Books, and the trackpad is sort of usable regardless of its tiny measurement (though some scrolling gestures would assist). Nevertheless, that does not imply that you’re going to be enthralled with it. The small keys meant that I needed to all the time be aware of the place my fingers have been, whereas a full-measurement keyboard would let me loosen up. And did I point out that these keys are loud and spongy, too? The dock continues to be useful for writing these lengthy messages, however it’s a joyless expertise that is in want of an overhaul.
Issues get higher underneath the hood. Frankly, I am impressed that ASUS stuffed 4GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage right into a 2-in-1 at this worth. The T100HA in all probability is not going to be your one and solely PC, however I did not have issues juggling a number of apps directly or discovering room for downloads. And there is no denying that this can be a poster youngster for what Home windows 10’s Continuum function can do. It is a low-value hybrid that works nicely for YouTube on the sofa, however kicks into full desktop mode once I have to get some critical work carried out… like, say, writing this text.
With that stated, there are limits to how nicely the Transformer E-book performs. Home windows 10’s aspect-by-aspect app multitasking is simply sometimes helpful at this measurement and with such a low-res show. Extra importantly, you’ll be able to’t assist however discover the efficiency limits of the 1.44GHz Atom x5 processor. The T100HA might have sufficient RAM to run a number of apps with out bogging down, nevertheless it’s by no means particularly fast at something. Apps are likely to chug longer than I might like, whether or not they’re loading web sites or enjoying media. No less than the battery life is comparatively good. ASUS’ declare of a 12-hour runtime is not very practical until you are solely watching video: the Transformer Ebook ran for eleven hours and 20 minutes (not far off from the unique T100) in our video check, which loops a 1080p clip at 50 % brightness with WiFi on. Nevertheless, it is nonetheless possible to get a number of hours once you’re juggling net browsing, Twitter and the opposite light-weight duties you are more likely to carry out on a tool like this. That is not spectacular, however it’s sufficient to get by means of a busy work day.
The issue, as you might have guessed, is that battery life is among the few areas the place you get what you’d anticipate from a standard $299 PC. I am giving up so much to get a touchscreen pill at this worth; consolation, efficiency and visibility all take a again seat. A comparable laptop computer would get me a nicer keyboard, a quicker processor and a much bigger, sharper display. Whereas that is true of many hybrids, the hole is especially noticeable at this degree: It is the distinction between a small, sluggish companion system and one thing highly effective sufficient to be my solely pc. And whereas it is more durable to get a Home windows 10 pill at this measurement and worth, there are many tablets (assume Android and iPads) with higher specs for the cash.
The T100HA and its compact, removable type issue nonetheless make sense to me, however solely in particular circumstances — it does not really feel just like the do-it-all marvel that the primary T100 represented two years in the past. It is best as an round-the-home pill that sometimes turns right into a PC when it’s essential to churn out lengthy e-mail replies or faculty reviews. It was nice once I simply needed to twist up with a video or look one thing up, however it was awful once I tried to deal with it as a full-fledged laptop computer alternative. Should you’re in that boat, you are in all probability higher off paying a bit additional for a 2-in-1 laptop computer that makes fewer sacrifices, like HP’s Pavilion x360. That type of system could also be bulkier and fewer versatile, however I think you would be happier general. Their bigger, quicker designs really feel higher-suited to trendy duties, whereas the T100HA comes throughout as one thing of a throwback.