The ASUS tablet range has a history of success delivering solid, entry-level devices for a wallet-friendly price, so it should come as no surprise that the ASUS Transformer Book T100 does exactly that.
ASUS is the originator of the convertible tablet, and they’ve brought all their experience to bear on the most affordable Transformer Book yet. In an ever-growing market, however, it’ll take more than a “solid” device to stand out.
As expected given the impressively low price, the ASUS Transformer Book T100 certainly doesn’t feel like a premium device. The 10.4-by-6.7-by-0.41 inch body is constructed from hard, glossy plastic that appears to be a magnet for smudges and fingerprints, though it is reasonably sturdy.
It’s fairly well-built for the price, though it doesn’t quite compare to tablets like ASUS’ own VivoTab Smart. Fortunately, it’s satisfyingly comfortable to hold at just 1.21 pounds. Even with the dock attached, the weight is still manageable at 2.4 pounds.
ASUS has decided to tuck the T100’s buttons in along the device’s curved edges, which can make them difficult to find at times, but it’s only a minor inconvenience. The volume rocker and start button are placed on the left edge, with the power and lock button around the corner on the top edge.
A microSD card slot, micro-USB socket, micro-HDMI port and standard headphone jack are arrayed along the right edge. The bottom of the tablet is reserved for connecting the keyboard dock, which is included with the device.
Resolving the Details
Impressions of the Transformer Book T100’s 1,366-by-768 pixel display will depend on what you’re comparing it to. Being an IPS display, it certainly has advantages over tablets with non-IPS panels.
Compared to tablets like the Acer Iconia W510 or ASUS’ VivoTab Smart, the T100’s panel is somewhat pedestrian. The resolution won’t blow you away, but it’s par for the course for budget tablets. Colors aren’t particularly accurate, and the 228-nit brightness is at the very bottom of the barrel.
Viewing angles are good, except the screen glare is such that it often obscures the display under even modestly bright conditions.
Under the Hood
The good news begins with the Transformer Book T100’s Intel Atom Z3740 Bay Trail processor. The quad-core chip is lightning quick compared to tablets using the older Clover Trail architecture, and the T100 is no exception.
Most customers will be looking for the full, non-RT Windows 8 experience, and the T100 has the hardware to deliver it. Although it won’t light up the latest, most computer-intensive games and programs, the Transformer Book will handle most legacy programs with minimal lag.
For an entry-level device, that’s pretty impressive. Battery life, too, is more than adequate.
The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is something of a hit-and-miss affair. In terms of hardware, it easily outpaces the Iconia W510 and VivoTab Smart in a tablet comparison. The included keyboard dock also makes it a no-brainer for productivity-minded buyers.
However, the cheap design more resembles the plasticky Iconia W510 than the slick, solid VivoTab. None of the three tablets has a clear advantage in terms of display, though the T100’s poor brightness levels and overly reflective panel are a bit disappointing.