I recently reviewed Microsoft's Surface 2 - a Windows RT tablet/laptop hybrid that is beautifully put together, but offers little in the way of usefulness for the £359 inc VAT purchase price. In many ways the Asus Transformer Book T100T is the counterpoint to the Surface 2.
On the face of it a much less desirable product, constructed of plastic where the Surface feels metallic, and with a clunky keyboard dock that lacks the magnetic swish of the Surface, the T100T wins back critical points when it comes to its functionality and versatility.
It is, after all, a full Windows 8 device, both laptop and tablet, and totally portable. And it comes with a free version of Office Home and Student. For £349 inc VAT that is a pretty compelling bundle - but is it any good?
Asus Transformer Book T100T: build and design
The Asus Transformer Book T100T is small and light. You'll find it listed on sales websites as weighing 523g - which would be staggering for a laptop. Actually, with the keyboard dock attached it is a relatively hefty 1108g, according to our trusty set of scales. But that's pretty light for a laptop. We measured the tablet weight at 524g, which is very light for a full Windows device.
This matters because the key benefit of the Asus Transformer Book T100T - apart from its deeply competitive price - is its portability. This is a full Window PC that will slip into the pocket of your winter coat. The trade off is that this device offers up its wows only in terms of price and portability. A truly desirable gadget it is not. The tablet section is a thick black plastic slab with curved edges. The screen is shiny and reflective and picks up fingerprints like a Scotland Yard detective. It's all perfectly functional, and despite the plastic feels robust as well as light. But an iPad this isn't.
The keyboard dock feels marginally nice to the touch, the scrabble-tile keys being set into a metallic plastic case that offers a passing resemblence to brushed metal. And the keys are of a reasonable size such as makes typing feel okay even for longer periods. If the Asus Transformer Book T100T feels more netbook than ultrabook, the keyboard bucks the trend.
When connected the keyboard dock and tablet combine to make a perfectly passable laptop, one that can be closed like a clamshell. The connection process is clunky and awkward, however. And because the battery is in the tablet portion you charge the Asus Transformer Book T100T via a connector that sits to the bottom right of the display. Unless you have a plug directly to the righthand side of your laptop setup this will make for awkward wire positioning.
The touchpad worked okay in our tests, being responsive and accurate, although we occasionally found it didn't work at all. Overall then we found the Asus Transformer Book T100T perfectly well built, and portable. But its not a device you just have to pick up and handle.
Asus Transformer Book T100T: specs and performance
Running the 32-bit edition of Windows 8.1 the Asus Transformer Book T100T packs in an Intel Atom chip clocked at 1.33GHz up to 1.8GHz, with onboard graphics. You get 2GB RAM and 32GB storage (although we found that 13GB of the available 28.2GB was taken as soon as we booted the T100T).
The critical thing here is that this tiny wee slate of a thing runs full Windows 8, so you will be able to install and run virtually all Windows software. How well you will be able to run it is another matter altogether. This particular Atom chip is a quad-core number, so even with only 2GB RAM performance feels much better than on previous Atom devices I've tried, such as netbooks. This is backed up by the PC Mark 7 benchmark that measures all round performance. We recorded average scores of around 2,330.
This is pretty decent - much better than other Atom devices such as the Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx (1415) and HP Envy X2 (1400). That 2,300 is way behind Microsoft's Surface Pro 2, of course, as that device scored 4,886. But it also costs about twice as much - the Asus Transformer Book T100T is certainly as good as it ought to be. More importantly, it is a perfectly usable office workhorse and web browsing machine.
Overall performance is better than you might expect at £349. Much better than you should expect for a full Windows tablet. And, most importantly, it is perfectly usable.
Connectivity is taken care of with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as a Micro-HDMI Headphone/microphone combo jack, and Micro-USB 2.0 on the tablet, and USB 3.0 on the keyboard dock. See all Windows tablet reviews.
Asus Transformer Book T100T: display
The 1,366x768 resolution IPS display stretches 10.1in from corner to corner. That makes for a pixel density of 155ppi - far from outstanding but perfectly usable. Small black text can be a little less than well defined, and colours aren't stunning, but for general computing tasks it is a decent display.
The glossy reflective screen is poor under direct light, but the touchscreen is more responsive than are some Windows 8 devices. Viewing angles are generous. Overall then it's a decent display but nothing to write home about.
Asus Transformer Book T100T: battery life
For an X86 Windows 8 device battery life is great. Potentially game changing. We've seen reports of testers getting more than 11 hours of battery life in video run-down tests. We certainly got a whole working day's use - web browsing and using office documents - which is the critical factor for a workhorse such as the Asus Transformer Book T100T.
This is not an iPad killer, or even a rival to the Surface Pro 2. But at £349 it is a compelling deal. The Asus Transformer Book T100T is a compact device that offers true functionality and decent performance. And it is a truly portable office PC. Much more updated netbook than desirable gadget, students, school children, home PC users and office road warriors could easily spend more and get less.