Humans are smart. They invented the wheel. The printing press. The light bulb. And recently, a laptop with detachable keyboard. The latest invention means that you can actually use the computer as two mobile devices: a notebook and tablet. That’s indeed cool, and also ASUS has jumped on this new bandwagon. Their model ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK is this kind of a 2-in-1 device. Let’s try to figure out if it’s a good purchase or not!
ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK is powered by Atom Z3775, a new low energy processor by Intel. There are four cores in it, and the clock speed of 1.5GHz – 2.4GHz depends on the turbo boost activation. If you compare it to some better known models, you’ll see the Atom beats Celeron N2840 (1300 points vs 1000 points in CPU Passmark tests). That said, it’s still far from mobile Core i3s. You can expect it to work perfectly for daily tasks – including Full HD video – but very demanding software is best left for true power laptops.
The laptop has 2GB RAM installed. It’s onboard memory so upgrading it is not possible. For a tablet, two gigabytes is not a problem. It might also work for a notebook, although again, not with very heavy use. For example, keeping multiple browser tabs open shouldn’t be an issue. But if you open other programs or tabs in dozens, the 2GB memory can’t keep up with the increased load and the system will slow down.
There is an option to choose either 32GB or 64GB solid-state drive for ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK. No hard drives are currently available. In any case, SSD is a logical choice for such a lightweight 2-in-1 device. Good sides include excellent performance – you’ll see Windows booting up and programs loading much faster than on your old desktop or laptop featuring a regular hard drive.
Of course, storage is very limited. On the 32GB model you’ll only have 15GB or less space available after the pre-installed Windows 8.1 (64-bit). You can get some more space by putting in a memory card, but don’t plan to use this ASUS as a full-blown file storage.
Display and graphics
It looks like the touch display of ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK is solid. It’s 10.1 inches diagonal, making the laptop very small. And yes, it detaches from the keyboard part, turning the notebook into a tablet. The resolution is 1920×1080 so you can enjoy all the videos with no worries about quality. Not all 15.6 inchers, much bigger laptops, are Full HD so you definitely got a premium screen here. The anti-glare IPS panel further reinforces that fact: wide viewing angles and good colors are ensured.
Anything bad about the screen? Bear in mind the components are installed on the display part, making the device top-heavy when the screen is attached. The laptop might flip if you turn the display too far.
The new Intel Atom series has received praise for processing power. Sadly, same can’t be said about the graphics. There’s Intel HD (Bay Trail) chip responsible for bringing the eye candy and smooth frames to your games. Well, those two things are unlikely to happen on many titles. Heavy first person shooters like Battlefield 4 will hardly get over 10 FPS, so playing them is not feasible. GTA:IV should average around 20 FPS on low details. Games easier on the graphics card like Minecraft and Trackmania will run with more frames, perhaps even if you up the settings a bit.
Due to the small size, ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK doesn’t have a great selection of ports compared to common (bigger) laptops. There’s only one USB port, although it’s still the faster type 3.0. A micro HDMI output is provided, meaning that you can hook the laptop to a HDTV or other monitor with HDMI in.
The ASUS has no dedicated Ethernet port. There’s however 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 card installed. If you require wired connection you can always get an USB-RJ45 adapter.
Another thing missing is optical drive. There would be no place for any DVD drive on this small notebook. So getting an external drive is your only option to read and burn DVDs on this ASUS. You can also try its micro SD card slot if your data is on memory cards.
There are two cameras in ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK. The one in front has 2MP resolution and the rear camera sports 5MP resolution. Thanks to the rear one you can use the ASUS as an impromptu digital camera, although the quality will be much worse than with traditional DSLRs. The built-in cameras can be also used for video, so meetings on Skype are possible.
What other things to keep in mind?
ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK is light as a feather. Display and the keyboard part weight 2.4 pounds together. The screen weighs just 1.25 pounds alone. So for traveling this device suits better than an average laptop. Also battery life seems to be good for road warriors: people have been getting around 9 hours on lightweight use. Keep in mind the display and keyboard have separate batteries, thus they both need charging.
The wireless keyboard dock is pretty simple, so it has no backlight to help you type in the dark. There’s no numeric keypad either due to size constraints.
Certainly an advantage, the system should come bloatware-free. Thus, you don’t have to uninstall programs that might slow the computer down. However, some useful software is included, one year subscription to Office 365 to name one.
Summing it up
ASUS Transformer Book T100CHI-B1-BK seems to be an useful item. It is meant for people who fancy the idea of having both laptop and tablet but paying only for one. The system can easily run all the everyday programs, and even occasional gaming is possible if you can do with older titles. Small size evidently leads to excellent portability: at 2.4 pounds and 10.1 inches the unit is very easy to take with you. The display should be excellent, with treats like IPS panel and Full HD resolution giving reason for a smile.
A lot of good has been said. But is there anything bad about it? Of course, it’s not a real laptop. It’s missing optical drive, RJ-45 and many USB ports. Memory can’t be upgraded; performance is hardly enough for power users. So indeed, the ASUS is not a real powerhouse – but it’s not even trying to be. It’s a laptop-tablet hybrid, and if you want one, I can’t think many other options that offer better value.