Very long battery life; Inexpensive; Keyboard included; Microsoft Office preloaded; Solid Bay Trail performance; Good webcam
Very slow to charge; Stiff, inconsistent touchpad; Cramped keyboard; Awkward Start button placement
The ASUS Transformer Book T100 offers fantastic battery life, a peppy Atom Bay Trail processor and a keyboard for less than the Surface 2.
Up until now, if you wanted a Windows tablet, you had two imperfect choices: You could buy an expensive, Intel Core Series-powered slate that offered solid performance but weak battery life, or a cheaper (but still overpriced) Atom-powered tablet with long battery life but slow speeds. Enter the ASUS Transformer Book T100, the first tablet with Intel's new low-power, quad-core Atom "Bay Trail" platform. Starting at just $349 ($399 as reviewed), the 10.1-inch T100 combines an attractive IPS screen, a responsive keyboard dock, a free copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student on top of Windows 8.1. That's quite a bargain, but is the Transformer Book T100 the best Windows tablet for your money?
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At 10.4 x 6.7 x 0.41 inches and 1.2 lbs., the Transformer Book T100 is one of the lightest 10-inch tablets around, weighing significantly less than the 10.8 x 7.0 x 0.4 inch, 1.6-lb. Dell Latitude 10 and the 10.8 x 6.8 x 0.4 inch, 1.5-lb. Surface 2. It's even quite a bit lighter than the 1.44-lb. iPad, despite the iPad's smaller 9.7-inch screen. However, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (10.1 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches, 1.2 lbs.) is the same weight, but a tad thinner.
When you attach the keyboard dock, the T100's weight doubles to 2.4 lbs. and its thickness jumps to 0.93 inches. By comparison, the 11.6-inch HP Envy x2 weighs 3.1 lbs., but is just 0.6 inches thick with its keyboard dock attached.
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The Transformer Book T100 has a design that's functional, but not particularly attractive. The back is made from cheap, glossy plastic in a drab shade of dark gray while the front has a thick black bezel. Where most Windows tablets have a capacitive Start button built into the bezel, the T100 has a Windows logo that doesn't do anything when pressed. Instead, ASUS has made the odd decision to put the Start functionality into a tiny button that sits on the left side next to the volume rocker.
The keyboard dock, which comes with the tablet, has a more stylish matte plastic surface and a soft-touch bottom. The screen snaps securely into a latch on the dock and only comes out after you push a hardware button to release it. With the keyboard attached, you can treat the T100 as 10-inch clamshell laptop, opening and closing it at will. The dock itself has no battery or charging port, but its fairly significant heft (1.2 lbs.) allowed us to balance the Transformer Book on our lap without feeling like it was going to tip over.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The first time we took the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, we registered an awful error rate of 7 percent, but after being a lot more deliberate in our strokes, we managed a 1 percent error rate with a 74 word-per-minute speed, about 11 words per minute below our typical score. However, we found typing on the T100 much more pleasant than using the Microsoft Surface's Touch or Type covers, because of the good feedback and the solid weight of the dock.
The 3 x 1.65-inch buttonless touchpad provided frustratingly inconsistent navigation. Though we were usually able to move the pointer quickly and accurately to our intended destination, it sometimes stopped moving midstroke, requiring us to lift up our finger and try again . We also found ourselves running off the edge of the narrow pad occasionally, while clicking left or right required as much force as pushing the hard plastic dome in the board game Trouble. The pad is just as loud, too, when clicked .
Display and Audio
Despite its wide viewing angles and strong color output, the Transformer Book T100 registered just 204 lux on our light meter, well below the 313 lux tablet category average, the 389 lux ThinkPad Tablet 2 and even a little less than the Acer Iconia W3-810's 222 lux screen. However, in everyday use, the screen seemed more than bright enough for whatever we viewed on it . We were even able to read articles in the Bing News app while standing in direct sunlight, though the fingerprints on the screen appeared more prominent than the text below.
The 5-point capacitive touch display was highly sensitive to our gestures, allowing us to pinch-zoom, swipe with ease and draw with all the fingers on one hand in Windows Paint.
The T100's speakers delivered audio that was loud enough to fill a large room. Whether we were playing Patrice Rushen's bass-heavy "Forget Me Nots" or the Scorpions' guitar-centric "No One Like You," sound was fairly accurate, though a bit hollow and tinny.
Ports and Webcam
The 1.2-MP webcam captured bright, sharp images even in low light. In our dark living room, the camera shot a bright image of our face with fine details such as the hair follicles in our beard clearly visible.
The Transformer Book T100's 64GB of eMMc memory booted into Windows 8.1 in a modest 17 seconds, about on par with the 16.5-second category average. The tablet took 3 minutes and 21 seconds to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer test, which involves copying 4.97GB of mixed media files. That's a rate of 25.3 MBps, slightly below the tablet category average of 27.7 MB ps, but better than the Acer Iconia W3-810 (21.9 MBps), Dell Latitude 10 (22 MBps) and Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet (20.7 MBps).
The Transformer Book T100 took 20 minutes and 48 seconds to the complete LAPTOP's OpenOffice Spreadsheet macro test, which matches up 20,000 names wLenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2t's 50 percent faster than the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (30:33), the Acer Iconia W3 (30:37) and the Dell Latitude 10 (29:48). However, it's a little slower than the 17-minute and 51-second tablet category average, because the average includes Core series-powered tablets like the Surface Pro.
However, when we played "World of Warcraft" at default settings, the tablet managed an unplayable 19 frames per second, well below the 28 fps category average. With the effects turned up, the number dropped to a slideshowlike 7 fps, half the 15 fps category average. We couldn't even attempt to play "World of Warcraft" on older Atom-based tablets like the Iconia W3-810 or Lenovo ThinkPad tablet, but the bottom line is that you should stick to Windows Store and online games.
You may not even need the power cord when you take this hybrid on a day trip. The ASUS Transformer Book T100 lasted an impressive 12 hours and 28 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 40 percent brightness. That time is an hour and a half longer than ASUS' own 11-hour claim and more than four hours better than the 8-hour tablet category average. Even the long-lasting Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (9:40) and Acer Iconia W3-810 (8:54) could not keep up. Only the 1.8-lb. Dell Latitude 10 with extended battery (17:40) clearly beat the T100 while the fourth-generation iPad (12:22) was about on par with it.
While it's convenient that the T100 uses a standard microUSB port for charging, the tablet takes a really long time to refuel. In anecdotal use, it appeared to take well over 4 hours to fully charge. We'll update this review with an official time.
Software and OS
For users who aren't satisfied with the 32 or 64GB of internal storage of which 32.2GB is available on the 64GB edition, the T100 comes with a year of unlimited storage space on the ASUS WebStorage service . ASUS also bundles ASUS Reader, an app that makes text in certain apps such as Bing News easier to read. Apart from the Reader, the WebStorage app, an instruction manual and touchpad control software, the company keeps its tablet blissfully free of crapware, including only the Kindle app.
The Transformer Book T100 comes in just two configurations, a 32GB model that costs $349 and a 64GB edition that goes for $399. Users who want more storage should consider purchasing a microSD card as 32GB cards sell for around $25 online.
If you want a more premium design and screen on a Windows slate today, you'll need to go for a much more expensive Intel Core-powered tablet, such as the $899 Surface Pro 2. You can also wait for the Dell Venue 11 Pro, which starts at $499, but has a full HD screen. However, if you want a 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablet that's good enough for most everyday tasks and lasts all day on a charge, the ASUS Transformer Book T100 is an extremely compelling choice.
|CPU||1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z3740|
|Storage Drive Size||64GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Graphics Chip||Intel HD Graphics|
|OS||Windows 8.1 (32-bit)|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||1.2MP|
|Card Reader Size||64GB|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||10.4 x 6.7 x .41 inches (tablet only) 10.4 x 6.7 x .93 inches (with dock)|
|Weight||1.2 pounds / 2.4 pounds with dock|