ASUS Transformer Guide T300 Chi evaluation: thinner than air, however at what value?
When ASUS formally unveiled the Transformer E-book Chi T300, it did so within the cheekiest approach attainable: with a cleverly worded swipe at Apple. “Our Chi is thinner than Air,” the corporate proclaimed — a transparent shot on the MacBook Air. (“Chi” means “air” in Mandarin Chinese language, by the best way, in case the dig wasn’t apparent sufficient.) Certainly, ASUS’ latest laptop computer/pill hybrid measures a scant zero.three inch for the pill (or zero.sixty five inch when docked), making it barely thinner than the Air, which is available in at zero.sixty eight inch at its thickest level. The Chi can also be extra reasonably priced than the Air (to not point out most different skinny-and-mild laptops), with a beginning worth of $699. On paper, it is a comparatively reasonably priced option to get your palms on an excellent-skinny machine. In follow, although, you are in all probability higher off spending a bit extra on one thing else. This is why.
Transformer E-book Chi T300
- Shiny, sharp display that accepts strain-delicate pen enter
- The pill portion of the system is exceptionally skinny
- Snug keyboard
- Aggressively priced
- Brief battery life
- No full-sized USB port
- With the keyboard dock, it is thicker and heavier than competing methods
- Runs heat on the underside
- Unreliable trackpad
For those who’re out there for a hybrid PC and do not need to spend a ton of cash, the Chi may match the invoice. However in case you have any flexibility in your finances, you possibly can simply discover one thing lighter, with longer battery life and a greater port choice.
Drawback primary: Whereas the 12.5-inch Chi is certainly tremendous skinny, it is not what I might name tremendous mild. At 1.fifty nine kilos for the pill alone and three.15 kilos with the keyboard dock hooked up, it is comparatively heavy. Definitely, it feels noticeably heavier than the two.sixty two-pound Lenovo Yoga three Professional, which can be used as a pill when wanted. The Dell XPS thirteen is lighter too, at 2.6 kilos, although with its fastened show, you admittedly cannot use it as something aside from a touchscreen pocket book. Even the thirteen-inch MacBook Air, the machine ASUS appears to be gunning after, is available in at a lighter 2.ninety six kilos. All of which is to say: For a tool that is being marketed for its portability, the Chi does not really feel exceptionally mild.
That alone is not essentially a dealbreaker, however within the case of the Chi, an enormous portion of these three-plus kilos seems like lifeless weight. As heavy because the Bluetooth keyboard dock is, it does not add a lot past the precise keys. There isn’t any additional battery inside. And there are nearly no additional ports, save for a micro-USB opening on the dock’s left edge. By comparability, the Yoga three Professional and Dell XPS thirteen each supply two full-sized USB three.zero ports and both a Mini DisplayPort or micro-HDMI connection. Even the 1.seventy six-pound Floor Professional three manages to squeeze in a Mini DisplayPort and USB socket. Admittedly, Microsoft’s keyboard cowl provides nothing in the best way of additional connections, however then once more, it additionally barely provides to the pill’s weight or thickness. In any case, that is the place I return to the load challenge: What is the level of getting a machine this heavy if you are going to get fewer ports than you’d on a lighter system?
Because of this the dock is left with only one job: to supply a cushty typing expertise. Even then, I am not an enormous fan. It is principally the touchpad; it is the worst I’ve seen on any current Home windows laptop computer. The monitoring was so unreliable, so imprecise, that after some time I prevented utilizing the trackpad in any respect; if it was attainable to hit a button on the desktop with my finger, I did so utilizing the touchscreen. On the brilliant aspect, I recognize the beneficiant 1.5mm of key journey; between that and the nicely-spaced format, I used to be usually capable of sort with out making errors.
All informed, this implies the Chi is, in some methods, at its greatest in pill mode. Even then, its almost thirteen-inch display makes it a bit unwieldy. (On the brilliant aspect, that is the world’s thinnest thirteen-inch pill, for what that is value, and at 1.fifty nine kilos it is markedly lighter than the Floor Professional three.) Even so, I discover the SP3 simpler to make use of as a slate, partially due to the much less-stretched-out three:2 facet ratio. I do not essentially assume the Floor has a extra snug keyboard or trackpad, however it does work higher than the Chi as a pill — type of an necessary factor on a hybrid system like this. And once more, I can forgive the Floor’s comparatively middling keyboard cowl considerably as a result of it at the very least does not overwhelm the remainder of the machine.
Within the plus column, the Chi’s all-aluminum casing feels strong, even when the complete package deal is on the heavy aspect. I additionally like how the 12.5-inch display has the tiniest of bumpers lining the sides; for all intents and functions, it appears like edge-to-edge glass. Talking of the type, although the Chi is on the market on the decrease finish with a 1,920 x 1,080 show, I examined it with a better-finish, 2,560 x 1,440 panel, with a pixel density of 235 ppi. Notably at $899 — what my specific configuration prices in the actual world — this can be a nice display: vibrant and crisp, with large viewing angles, because of the IPS panel. As well as, there’s an lively digitizer inside, permitting it to acknowledge 256 ranges of strain sensitivity, whether or not via pen or finger enter. That places it on par with the Floor Professional three, with one distinction: The stylus pen right here is bought individually, for $forty. Sadly, I did not get to check it out as a part of my evaluation, so I can not vouch for pen efficiency, besides to say that having a strain-delicate display at this worth is already a plus.
In comparison with the display (maybe the Chi’s greatest function), the sound high quality feels a bit like an afterthought, though it is nonetheless acceptable. The audio is a bit tinny, as is the case on many ultraportable laptops, however the quantity is loud sufficient and I finally received used to the sound high quality, even when it’s a bit missing within the bass division.Efficiency and battery life
I have never talked about this but, however one of many major causes ASUS was capable of construct a pill this skinny within the first place is that it makes use of a low-energy Intel Core M processor — the identical kind of chip utilized in different fanless machines just like the Lenovo Yoga three Professional and the brand new 12-inch MacBook. As we have already seen, the twin-core 1.2GHz Core M 5Y71 CPU right here is not fairly as highly effective as one among Intel’s new fifth-era Core-collection chips, nevertheless it’s predictably a bit quicker than the 1.1GHz Core M processor used inside some competing machines, just like the Yoga three Professional we reviewed. With 8GB of RAM, it roundly beat the Yoga three Professional in each graphics check we ran, although it fell barely brief in PCMark, a extra basic efficiency check. Startup takes a brisk eight seconds, only a hair quicker than the Yoga three Professional. The SanDisk SSD inside additionally delivered respectable learn speeds of as much as 487 MB/s, with higher-than-common write speeds of 366 megabytes per second. (Many SSDs prime out within the two-hundred-and-one thing vary in terms of write charges.)
As for WiFi, the Chi has an 802.11n wi-fi radio (no less than on fashions bought within the US), which means it isn’t making use of the present-gen 802.11ac normal just like the Yoga three Professional and different rivals. That stated, I loved a quick, dependable connection and had no drawback streaming video and music from inside my condo.
As I’ve discovered on different Core M-powered laptops, together with the brand new MacBook, the draw back to having a quiet, fanless system appears to be that these machines are likely to run heat. Even once I was simply streaming Spotify and had a couple of tabs open in Chrome, I might really feel the underside aspect get scorching whereas I had the machine resting on my lap. It is a clear draw back to the Core M, particularly when the battery life is not so nice (extra on that in a minute), however at the least it isn’t particular to the Chi; it is an issue I’ve had with almost each Core M machine I’ve reviewed.
However again to the battery life. The runtime right here is particularly skimpy, even in comparison with equally outfitted Core M laptops. The 32Wh, four,120mAh cell lasted simply 5 hours and fifty one minutes in Engadget’s video rundown check. By comparability, lighter-weight machines just like the Yoga three Professional, the brand new MacBook and the Dell XPS thirteen all lasted someplace between seven and a half and eight hours underneath the identical testing circumstances. The XPS thirteen, particularly, can in all probability do even higher in case you get it with a decrease-res 1080p show. In a word to reviewers, an ASUS rep recommended opening the included ASUS “Splendid” show utility and ensuring it was set to the “regular” display profile for max battery life. Even then, although, the machine wasn’t capable of crack six hours on a cost. Not good.Software program
Along with that “Splendid” utility I discussed, ASUS packs in a number of different apps, together with nicely-knowns like Twitter, Netflix and TripAdvisor. Different pre-put in packages embrace Recent Paint, Line (the texting app, which is particularly in style in Asia), ASUS PhotoDirector, ASUS PowerDirector, the Zinio journal retailer and a shortcut for Microsoft Workplace (notice: You continue to have to purchase it or provide your personal license code). As well as, the machine comes with a yr of limitless storage by way of ASUS’ personal WebStorage service, in addition to a 30-day trial of McAfee safety software program.Configuration choices and the competitors
The Chi begins at $699 with a 1080p display, 128GB of storage and 4 gigs of RAM. From there, the worth goes as much as $899, bringing us to the mannequin I examined. The unit comes with a WQHD display, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. As I’ve stated, that is not dangerous for the worth. If solely the battery life have been longer and it had extra ports and the trackpad have been extra dependable.
I’ve identify-checked a lot of the Chi’s primary rivals already, however let’s do a fast recap anyway. When it comes to the shape issue — a 12-inch-or-so pill that may connect to a keyboard dock — the obvious corollary is final yr’s Floor Professional three. As a result of it has been out for some time, it does certainly run final yr’s processors, however it nonetheless matches and in some instances bests the Chi on artificial benchmark checks. The battery life can also be round an hour longer and since there is a tiny cooling vent surrounding the perimeter of the gadget, overheating is not a problem both. There’s additionally a pen included within the field, in contrast to with the Chi. That stated, at $799, with the $one hundred thirty keyboard cowl bought individually, it is pricier, even in the event you simply purchase the bottom configuration. Additionally, the keyboard and trackpad aren’t a lot better than what ASUS is providing, although the dock a minimum of does not add a lot to the entire weight. And keep in mind that a Floor Professional four may be coming later this yr; that alone could possibly be a cause to see what Microsoft does subsequent.
When you’re prepared to get both a clamshell pocket book as an alternative or one thing with a convertible show (assume: the Yoga), you’ve got obtained much more choices, all of which supply longer battery life at both the identical weight or much less. There’s the Yoga three Professional, in fact, which begins at $1,149 and weighs in at 2.sixty two kilos, with a three,200 x 1,800 display, a snug keyboard and a battery that may final seven and a half hours.
It is a comparable story with the Dell XPS thirteen, which begins at $800 and weighs 2.6 kilos, with a compact body and a really snug typing expertise. There, too, the battery life is comparable — round 7.5 hours — and you may anticipate much more for those who go together with one of many decrease-priced 1080p fashions. (The XPS thirteen we examined, which had a three,200 x 1,800 show, at present begins at $1,300, making it rather more costly than the Chi. Certainly, the truth that you must pay a lot for a mannequin that has both a touchscreen or a excessive-decision show is likely one of the issues we like least about it.)
Moreover, you may think about HP’s Spectre x360, which weighs almost the identical (three.17 kilos within the lightest-attainable configurations), however gives longer battery life, even when the display resolutions are kind of equal. With a beginning worth of $900, too, it is not that a lot pricier than the Chi I am reviewing immediately.Wrap-up
On paper, the Transformer Ebook Chi T300 is an effective deal for what it’s: $899 (or much less) for an excellent-skinny pill with a pointy display that accepts pen enter, and a keyboard dock that really comes within the field at no additional cost (ahem, Microsoft). Nonetheless, to get the worth down that low — and to realize a design that is “thinner than air” — ASUS needed to make all method of compromises. The battery life is brief, even in comparison with different techniques with an analogous Core M processor. On the similar time, once you issue within the keyboard dock, it is heavier than different comparably specced laptops that handle to last more on a cost. And but, regardless of being bulkier, it truly has fewer ports — in reality, there is not a single full-sized USB socket on your complete machine, not even on the removable dock. When you actually simply need a hybrid-sort PC however cannot spend a ton of cash, this might match the invoice. However if in case you have any flexibility in your price range, you’ll be able to in all probability do higher.
- Key specs
- <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/asus/transformer/guide/t300-chi/” title=”ASUS Transformer Guide T300 Chi evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Critiques • zero </a>
- Sort Pill
- Display measurement 12.5 inches
- Processor velocity 1.2 GHz
- System RAM eight GB
- Most battery life As much as eight hours
- Dimensions 12.fifty one x 7.fifty four x zero.sixty five in
- Weight three.19 lb
- Introduced 2014-06-02