I took the ASUS Transformer Book on a 2 week journey through my professional life. Between several road trips and two flights this tablet/laptop hybrid has treated me well. In fact, it served me better than my Lenovo Miix 2 which I’d been using as a complimentary device for the better part of 2 months. It’s no surprise to me that ASUS would nail this hybrid Windows device -they have tremendous experience in the space. To be clear, this device is designed for students and working professionals. I am no longer a student but I used this device for managing spreadsheets, presentations, documents, web browsing and email.
Hybrid devices have a particular place in business – something ASUS have no doubt learned over the past several years. I remember my first ASUS device was the EEE PC – an ultraportable laptop running Linux. I used it during graduate school to take notes in class on both a word processor and spreadsheet. Technology has come a long way since 2008, but the needs of students and working professionals have not. This is a device I wish I’d had back then. The Transformer Book is a comfortable and powerful 10″ tablet, as well as a laptop. It’s excellent as a note-taker and even useful for producing spreadsheets, documents, and presentations with the included Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 and keyboard dock. The keyboard takes some adjusting to be effective. I made several typing errors but unlike iOS and Android, Windows 8 doesn’t assist at all. There is no in-line word suggestions or predictive typing. I would not suggest this to anyone who anticipates marathon typing sessions (more than an hour). ASUS are not to blame for this – the keyboard dock fits very well with the form factor of the tablet. It’s really an issue Microsoft needs to fix soon.
Powerful – that’s how I describe this hybrid. As you’ll see below, the specs line up well against other tablets in it’s size class. And while this is running full blown Windows 8.1, don’t expect this to replace your desktop or your 5 lb Core i7 laptop. It’s not meant to. It’s for those who need an inexpensive portable device that will allow them to pick up where they left off while at the office. When paired with a cloud storage solution, such as DropBox Google Drive, or WD MyCloud, the Transformer Book becomes very portable and also convenient for data synchronization.
CPU: 1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z3740
SSD Storage: 32GB/64GB (as reviewed)
Display: 10.1 inch IPS (1366×768)
GPU: Intel HD
Front-Facing Camera: 1.2MP
Ports: microHDMI; microUSB; USB 3.0
Size: 10.4 x 6.7 x .41 inches (tablet only) | 10.4 x 6.7 x .93 inches (with dock)
Weight: 1.2 lbs (tablet only) | 2.35 lbs (with dock)
It works quite well. I have strict requirements for a laptop replacement at work: it must be fast, have excellent battery life, and be portable. I use a combination of Google Drive and Western Digital’s MyCloud for data integrity between all of my devices. While digging into these services is better articulated in a dedicated editorial, I would say their relative limitations were not exacerbated or reduced by the Transformer Book. In short, I still had a heck of a time managing my data. But the light at the end of the tunnel is visible – one day we’ll have a fix for cloud storage.
In terms of software, I compiled 3 of our podcasts using this device. The necessary software is Audacity and 1,2,3, Copy DVD. Ripping the audio from the .MP4 file typically takes 2.5 minutes using my Core i7 Haswell powered laptop. With the Transformer Note it took closer to 5 minutes. My faster laptop is 6 lbs and not easy to travel with – hence the point of the Transformer Note. The de facto business application suite of Microsoft Office performed well on the Transformer Book. It’s only held back by Windows 8’s strange touch interface for copy/paste and text selection. Which, for me, are effectively impossible. The beauty of the Transformer Book is you can connect a mouse via full sized USB directly on the left side of the dock, thus avoiding the text selection issues caused by Windows 8.
If you need a portable note taker that also serves as a solid tablet, the Transformer Book T100 is a fantastic choice. While Android may be the better OS for tablet-specific application support, those of us in business and education are still pegged to Microsoft Office. It’s invaluable to be on a flight and only carry one device that can be a lightweight tablet or a small laptop seamlessly.