“A tablet which doubles up as A netbook”
Before they started making powerful gaming machines and futuristic Ultrabooks, ASUS used to be a leader in the Netbook space. With the Transformer T100, the company is trying to remind us that the company is great at making ultra-small and ultra-cheap devices.
Styling of the T100 is similar to that of the company’s Transformer Pad series of Android tablets. However, the quality of construction is lower. While the tablets have metal elements, the T100 is made entirely out of plastic – which is necessary for keeping costs down. It weighs around 2.4 pounds (the tablet bit itself weighs 1.2lbs), which is as heavy as a netbook.
The tablet has a microUSB slot and a microHDMI port, along with a microSD slot and the usual volume and power buttons. Because the keyboard (which can be docked) is a shipped with the T100 (unlike the Type Cover with the Surface Pro 3 which has to be bought separately), ASUS is able to provide a USB 3.0 port as well. There are speakers on either side of the screen which are surprisingly loud, but lose quality at high volumes.
This 10-inch tablet is priced at $399-$499, which is extremely good value for money. It even comes with a bundled keyboard, which should make it an attractive proposition to people on a tight budget. In some variants, the keyboard has a 500GB SATA HDD for extra storage.
The Transformer T100 runs on Windows 8.1, which makes it a very capable device. It doesn’t come with many bundled third-party apps, which is a good thing. A version of Microsoft Office is pre-installed, which makes it easier to use the T100 as a netbook or an ultra-portable laptop.
So What Do We Know So Far?
It looks like the ASUS Transformer T100 is a good device that is excellent value-for-money to boot. The addition of USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, along with a bundled keyboard and Windows 8, means that it provides all the functionality of a PC. Even though build quality is not that great, it isn’t a surprise considering the low price.
At its heart, the T100 has a quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740 Bay Trail CPU which can produce burst-speeds of up to 1.86GHz. Even though the processor supports 4GB of RAM, the T100 only has 2GB of DDR3 RAM, which is pretty average.
Compared to the devices which use the earlier Clover Trail Atom processors, the Bay Trail in the T100 is much faster. Applications load in a jiffy and browsing the internet is smooth, as long as you don’t tax the machine too much. Compared to the older Dell Latitude 10, the T100 is around 45% faster, which is a huge jump. At low settings, it even managed to run Crysis, which is a commendable feat.
- Bundled keyboard with optional storage
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- USB 3.0
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Headphone out/Microphone in port
Compared to many other tablets, the display on the T100 can’t be considered exceptional. The 10.1 inch screen has a 1,366×768 resolution with good viewing angles and an 889:1 contrast ratio. Colors generally lack boldness, but, considering the asking price, the display is very respectable.
The less said about the camera the better. The T100 has a 1.2MP front-facing camera which supports 720P HD videos. This is more than enough for video-conferencing and other similar activities. There is no rear camera, so you can’t use the device for photography.
The battery is a 31Wh unit which lasts for around 11 hours of casual use, 9.5 hours of video and around 10 days on standby. In real-world tests, it looks like this is on the conservative side. Even though the battery life isn’t as great as the iPad Air or the Surface, it is still pretty good.
- Decent performance
- Long battery life
- Can run traditional desktop programs
- Bundled keyboard
- Flimsy keyboard
- Average build quality
- Screen not too bright
The Asus Transformer T100 is by no means perfect. It feels cheap to hold and the display is nothing to write home about. But, considering its price and performance, it could turn out to be a great buy.