It seems like every major PC has come out with a 2-in-1 made specifically to take on the Surface Pro, except Asus. But with the new Transformer 3 Pro, Asus is taking clear shots at Microsoft's category-defining 2-in-1 with a system that seems to do almost everything a Surface can do, but just a bit better.
Featuring your choice of an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, a 12.6-inch 2880 x 1920 display, the 8.33mm-thick Transformer 3 Pro comes with components that either equal or slightly edge out what you get on a similarly configured Surface Pro 4. The device also features three ports: HDMI, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 and a traditional USB 3.0 connector.
Update: After reaching out to Asus, we've confirmed that the Transformer 3 Pro's folding keyboard comes included in the system's $999 starting price.
Asus also claims that the Transformer 3 Pro's display features an sRGB color range that's 22 percent wider than the SP4. With speakers that are reported to be four times louder than the Surface's, the Transformer Pro 3 should deliver a superior audio and visual experience.
When I got a chance to check out Asus' new flagship 2-in-1 at its press event in Taiwan, it was quite clear that the company didn't even try to hide where it drew its inspiration from. In fact, I bet if you switch out the Asus logo for a Windows one, even a lot of tech savvy people would have a hard time figuring out which is which.
Like the Surface Pro, the Transformer 3 Pro features an adjustable kickstand in back, and along the bottom, there's a magnetic connector for attaching a backlit folding keyboard that feels remarkably close to Microsoft's Type cover. The Transformer Pro 3 even has a stylus with the same 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity as the SP4, so there's not much difference in the way the two PCs handle drawing and sketching.
Where the Surface Pro 4 beats the Transformer 3 Pro is in weight, as a Core i5 SP4 weighs 786 grams versus the Asus' weight of 795 grams.
One of the big questions that remains is if the Transformer 3 Pro's starting price includes its folding keyboard. Because if it doesn't, then the Surface Pro 4 will also hold an advantage in price, as a Core i5 SP4 currently goes for $849 versus the $999 starting price of the Transformer Pro 3.
The other thing that I really want to know is whether, in Asus' quest to one-up the Surface, the company made the mistake of using a battery that's too small. If so, then all the time Asus spent refining the Surface's design will have been for naught, but we're going to have to wait for a full review to find out.
The Transformer 3 Pro proves that imitation really is a form of flattery, and if this 2-in-1 can bring some subtle improvements to what's currently the best detachable on the market, Asus will have a winner on its hands.