Thanks to its long battery life and cheap price, the Asus Transformer Book T100 has long been one of our favorite laptop-tablet hybrids. Its bigger brother, the T200 delivers a larger 11-inch display and a full-size detachable keyboard dock with a hard-drive bay for additional storage. But is this sub-$500 Atom-powered convertible device good enough to be your only PC?
Design: Sleek, Sexy Hybrid
I couldn't help but show off the sexy, sleek Asus Transformer Book T200. "Look how it fits in my purse," I told my wide-eyed friends, who also gawked at the concentric-circle pattern on its blue lid.
Adorning the T200's lid is a shiny, silver Asus logo, which is flanked by subtle speaker grilles on each side. A 5-megapixel camera sits in the center of the top edge, and a power button lies on its right. Lining the tablet's right side are a volume rocker and a Windows button.
The matte silver keyboard snaps onto the tablet, and the sturdy stainless-steel hinge protrudes slightly from the bottom when the device is closed. On the dock's underside is what Asus calls its Smart Hard Drive Bay, a slot that lets you add a hard drive to the T200. You'll need a screwdriver to access the bay, but it's nice to know you can augment the 64GB of onboard storage without a hassle. The T200 doesn't come with a hard drive in the bay already, though.
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At 12 x 7.9 x 1 inches and 3.2 pounds (with keyboard), the T200 is heftier than Dell's Inspiron 11 3000 (11.8 x 7.93 x 0.83 inches, 3.1 pounds) and Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 2 11 (11.7 x 8.12 x 0.67 inches, 2.8 pounds). When you detach the keyboard dock from the T200, it becomes a much lighter 1.8 pounds. The Surface Pro 3 weighs a similar 1.76 pounds in tablet mode but a lighter 2.4 pounds in laptop mode.
The tablet portion of the T200 includes a microSD slot, a microUSB port, a microHDMI port and a microphone/headphone combo, while the keyboard dock sports Ethernet, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.
I would have preferred a full-size SD card slot on the dock for easier photo transfers from a camera.
I loved watching movies on the T200's glossy 11.6-inch 1366 x 768p IPS touch screen. Individual rings around Saturn appeared crisp in an HD trailer for "Interstellar," while colors such as orange flames and Jessica Chastain's auburn hair were vibrant. The slate's viewing angles were generous, with colors staying true as I turned the tablet from side to side.
However, I found myself frequently shifting angles to avoid glare from reflections. It was also somewhat difficult to see content under bright sunlight.
Measuring 235 nits on our brightness meter, the T200 is brighter than the 183-nit Inspiron 11, but dimmer than the 260-nit Yoga 2 11, the 342-nit Switch 10 and the ultraportable average (254 nits).
The T200's display offers more accurate color reproduction than competing devices, as it registered a Delta-E rating of 3.5 (closer to 0 is more accurate). That's better than the average ultraportable (6.53), the Yoga 2 11 (6.6) and the Inspiron 11 3000 (9.3). The Aspire Switch 10 was more accurate, with a near-perfect score of 1.
Capable of displaying 66.7 percent of the sRGB color gamut, the T200 fared better than the Switch 10 (63.5 percent) but slightly worse than the average ultraportable (69.3) and the Yoga 2 11 (68). The Inspiron 11 3000 scored a much higher 81.7.
The T200's rear speakers delivered decent audio quality in my testing. Michael Jackson's voice in "Love Never Felt So Good" sounded clear against the instruments in the background, and the music filled a small room. Hozier's "Take Me To Church," however, sounded hollow through the hybrid's speakers.
On Laptop Mag's audio test, the T200 hit 82 decibels from 23 inches away. That's the same showing as the Inspiron 11 and the Switch 10, but softer than the average ultraportable and the Yoga 2 11 (both 84 dB).
Keyboard Dock and Touchpad
Typing on the T200's island-style black-on-silver keyboard was mostly pleasant, as I cranked out Facebook posts and furiously IM-ed my friends with ease. The keyboard's 1.3mm vertical travel sits nicely within the acceptable range of 1 to 2 mm, and its keys require 60 grams of actuation force to press, resulting in firm, springy feedback. The dock itself exhibited some flex, however, making the keyboard feel flimsy.
I have a couple of other complaints. The arrow keys on the bottom right are almost too small to use, and the Function keys should be reversed, so I don't have to push the Fn button to adjust the brightness and volume.
The T200's spacious 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad was smooth and responsive.
Multitouch gestures, such as two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom, worked like a charm.
It isn't a powerhouse, but the T200 packs enough muscle for most typical computing chores. With a 1.59-GHz quad-core Intel Atom Bay Trail Z3795 processor and 4GB of RAM, the T200 hummed along as I played a round of Happy Chef 2 with a Hulu video streaming and four Chrome tabs open in the background. However, the computer did stutter when switching between apps while all this was going on.
Notching 3,299 on the Geekbench 3 test, the Asus T200 beat the 1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z3745-backed Aspire Switch 10 (2,620), but lost to the Inspiron 11 (3,395) and the Yoga 2 11 (4,290), which are powered by 2.16-GHz quad-core Intel Pentium N3530 and N3520 CPUs, respectively.
The T200's 64GB eMMC SSD was relatively speedy, delivering a transfer rate of 44.6 MBps on our file copy test. That's faster than the Inspiron 11 (30.5 MBps), the Aspire Switch 10 (23 MBps) and the Yoga 2 11 (38 MBps). Both the Inspiron and the Yoga 2 11 have 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drives, while the Switch 10 has a 64GB SSD.
Matching 20,000 names and addresses in 16 minutes and 44 seconds, the T200 was slower than the Yoga 2 (9:44) and the Inspiron 11 (15:22) on our Spreadsheet Performance test. However, it was faster than the Aspire Switch 10, which took about 21 minutes.
With an integrated Intel HD Graphics card, games such as Despicable Me: Minion Rush, GT Racing 2: The Real Car Experience and Happy Chef 2 ran smoothly, but the T200 lacks the muscle for more taxing titles such as World of Warcraft.
On the 3DMark Ice Storm benchmark, the T200's score of 16,567 is lower than those registered by the Switch 10 (17,922), the Inspiron 11 (20,361) and the Yoga 2 11 (32,053).
Pictures I took with the T200's 5-MP rear camera looked colorful and bright, with red Manhattan buildings popping against the deep-blue sky. Details, such as lines on an exposed brick wall, looked crisp.
The 1080p video I shot of street traffic in New York's Flatiron District looked similarly vibrant and sharp, with accurately colored cabs and well-defined building edges.
Up front, the 2-MP camera took grainy, dull selfies.
While the picture accurately depicted my lime-green headphones and pastel-green shirt, my face was covered in multicolored specks. The images also had an overall yellow tone.
Asus claims the T200's 38-Whr battery can last up to 8.5 hours, depending on the device configuration and usage. On Laptop Mag's battery test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness), the T200 lasted 6 hours and 27 minutes.
That's less than the average ultraportable (7:48) and the Switch 10 (6:34), but better than the Inspiron 11 (6:14) and the Yoga 2 11 (5:19). Unfortunately, there's no second battery in the keyboard dock.
Software and Warranty
The T200 runs a 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 and is relatively free of bloatware. The smattering of bundled apps are mostly useful, including the Asus-branded PhotoDirector and PowerDirector for photo and video editing.
The PowerDirector program (starting at $70) is our top pick for video editing software, and getting it for free with the T200 is definitely a plus for moviemakers. Asus also bundles the Line messaging app, Zinio magazine app and Netflix, as well as a year of unlimited space on the company's cloud service, WebStorage. After that, you'll get 5GB of space free, 100GB at $22.99 per year or 500GB at $99.99 per year.
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Asus offers a one-year international warranty and one year of accidental-damage protection with the Transformer Book T200. That means if you drop or damage your device or spill something on it, Asus will repair or replace it for free, depending on the damage. See how Asus fared in our Best & Worst Brands report and Tech Support Showdown.
It's hard to stand out in the sea of Windows 8 tablet-laptop hybrids, but the Asus Transformer Book T200 is a very good detachable 2-in-1. It offers a stylish design; a comfortable, full-size keyboard; and a vibrant IPS display with fairly wide viewing angles. Plus, you can expand the storage via the smart hard drive bay. However, I wish Asus had found room on the dock for a secondary battery to boost the battery life.
For the same price, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 11 offers better performance, a unique Lenovo Motion gesture-based control app and other helpful software. However, that hybrid can't detach from its keyboard, and it lasts an hour less on a charge than the Asus. While it's not perfect, the Asus T200 is a solid choice for those on a budget who are looking for a notebook and tablet in one.