Hoping to give the iPad a one-two punch to the gut, the ASUS Transformer Book Duet TD300 lets users instantly switch between Android and Windows 8.1 with the push of a button. That means you can get serious work done on this 13-inch laptop-tablet combo using Office and then fire up Google's OS when you want to access more apps. Starting at $599 (with a Core i3 processor) but available with a faster Core i5 ($599) or Core i7 CPU (Price TBD), the Duet could be the hybrid you've been waiting for.
The Duet isn't the first device of its kind, as Samsung announced -- but never shipped -- the ATIV Q in 2013. That convertible used a flipping display with a shaper 3200 x 1800-pixel resolution, while the Duet packs a 1920 x 1080 IPS screen on the Core i5 model. We actually prefer ASUS' design, though, because you can detach the display. The cheaper Core i3 version gets a 1366 x 768 display.
The slate portion measures 13.4 x 8.5 x x.5 inches and the dock is 13.4 x 8.6 x .62 inches. The combined weight is a somewhat hefty 4.2 pounds, and the tablet is 2.2 pounds by itself. ASUS employed its usual concentric-circle finish on the lid (back of the tablet).
How Switching Works
Unlike BlueStacks, software that runs Android in a virtualized environment on top of Windows, the Transformer Book Duet runs both operating systems separately via ASUS's patented Instant Switch technology. The company says you should be able to pick up right where you left off in either environment, though it's not clear whether Android and Windows are integrated or synced in some way. For instance, Samsung promised that you could pin Android apps to your Windows 8 Start screen on the ATIV Q.
Specs and Features
ASUS says the Transformer Book Duet will ship with your choice of a Core i3 ($599), Core i5 ($699) or Core i7 CPU (Price TBD), 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of SSD storage on the tablet. A microSD Card slot lets you add an additional 64GB of memory.
The keyboard dock has its own hard drive with up to 1TB of storage. This dock also houses USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and an Ethernet port, though it doesn't look like there's a full-size SD Card slot on board.
Other highlights include dual speakers powered by ASUS' SonicMaster technology.
It remains to be seen whether consumers will be excited or confused by a device that runs both Android and Windows, but we're in the former camp. It will all come down to the execution. The Transformer Book Duet definitely looks like the hybrid to watch for 2014.