Today, it seems like every notebook vendor has at least one 2-in-1 notebook with a lid that flips back 360 degrees. Lenovo pioneered the concept of a bend-back display on its Yoga series and several other major OEMs have now followed suit. On the same day that Dell unveiled its bendable XPS 11 and HP announced 13- and 15-inch versions of the Pavilion X360, ASUS took the wraps off its own line of 2-in-1 laptops with lids that fold back.
Dubbed the ASUS Transformer Book Flip, this series of notebooks bends back exactly like its competitors. However, ASUS stands out from the crowd by offering models as large as 15.6-inches, something we don't normally see in any kind of hybrid.
Editor's Note: In the video, we incorrectly state that the notebook we're using is the Transformer Book Flip TP500 when it is a TP550. We believe the demo unit on display was mislabeled, because it had an optical drive, a feature of the TP550 only.
We had a chance to go hands-on with the Transformer Book Flip TP550, a 15.6-inch model and were surprised to see that something this large and heavy could be flipped around as a tablet and stood up in tent mode. The bulky hybrid was listed on ASUS's spec sheet as weighing 5.6 pounds, but it felt even heavier, as if it were an anvil in our hands. Still, the device packs a lot of power under the hood with an Intel Core i7-4510 CPU, Nvidia GeForce 820M graphics, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive.
Despite its chunky chassis, the Transformer Book Flip TP550's lid easily folded back 360 degrees to turn it into a luggable tablet. It smoothly flipped back about 270 degrees to go into presentation mode, placing the deck behind the screen. At about 300 degrees the hybrid to go into tent mode where we placed the laptop upside down with its lid and deck propping it up. These are the same modes you'll find on the Yoga and all the other 360-degree hybirds. Also like its competitors, the Flip TP550 disables its keyboard when not in laptop mode, so you won't accidentally type something by gripping the back or putting it on a table.
The 15.6-inch 1080p screen on the demo unit we tested was unimpressive at best. Colors were washed out and viewing angles were really weak as we could barely make out the content on screen when viewing it from about 60 degrees to the right. We hope the final shipping product uses a better panel.
We were surprised to see the demo unit had an optical drive, something we never see on hybrids and now find on only large entertainment-focused laptops. We suppose that being able to watch a DVD while the system is in presentation mode would make sense.
In addition to the TP550, ASUS's new Transformer Book Flip line has another 15.6-inch member, the TP500, which is similar to the TP550 but has no optical drive and therefore weighs about 0.6 pounds less.
There's also the 13.3-inch Transfomer Book Flip TP300, which sports a full HD screen and Nvidia GeForce 820M graphics while weighing just 3.9 pounds. The 14-inch Transformer Book Flip TP450 sports an optical drive like the TP550 and weighs 5.1 pounds. There's no word yet on pricing for any of the Transformer Book Flip notebooks, but they are due out at the end of June.