After making a brief appearance on stage at IDF this morning, ASUS formally unveiled the Transformer Book T100 tonight at its own press event. One of the first tablets with Intel’s new Bay Trail platform, the $349 10.1-inch T100 sports runs Windows 8.1 with a free copy of Office 2013 Home and Student on its quad-core processor and 1366 x 768 touch screen. We had a chance to go hands-on with the T100 and were impressed with how much value and functionality you get at this price point.
While previous ASUS Transformers have charged a hefty premium for the keyboard dock, the Transformer Book T100 comes with it included for the base price of $349. In addition, ASUS bundles Office 2013 home and student, making the device ideal for students. In our brief hands-on, we found that the keyboard, which Jonney Shih said was modeled after a ThinkPad or Macbook keyboard, offered really good vertical travel and tacticle feedback, but we did notice a tiny bit of flex and, like other docks this size, the keys are small and palmrest too short to support an adult wrist.
The 1366 x 768 IPS display isn’t the sharpest or brightest we’ve seen as the display model we tested did not seem particularly vibrant. However, for this price point, it’s more than adequate and supports 10-point touch as we saw when we drew with both hands in Windows Paint.
On the inside, in addition to its 1.3-GHz Atom Z3470 CPU, the also has 2GB of RAM and your choice of 32 or 64GB of eMMC memory, with the 64GB version costing an additional $50 ($399). As a tablet only, the T100 weighs just 1.2 pounds and measures 10.4 x 6.7 x 0.41 inches. However, when you add on the keyboard attachment, that weight jumps up to 2.4 pounds. The entire battery is in the tablet itself as is the charging port so, even if you use it as a slate only, you will get the full battery life, which ASUS estimates at 11 hours.
The Transformer Book T100 won’t win any beauty contests with its glossy gray plastic back and sides, but you won’t be embarrassed to take the tablet to school or to the coffee shop. The docking / undocking mechanism worked flawlessly as we were able to pop the slate in and out of the keyboard with ease. When docked, the tablet remained securely in place and could only be removed after we pressed the release button. When docked, the device can fold closed, making it look just like any laptop.
The device doesn’t have a ton of ports, but it provides more than just basic connectivity. A micro USB port on the side of the tablet serves as the power port, allowing users to use any USB cable they have handy, rather than using a proprietary AC adapter. A micro HDMI out port can output video to an external monitor at up to 2560 x 1600 — the maximum resolution Bay Trail supports — while the keyboard itself sports a USB 3.0 port for connecting to the latest peripherals.
When he unveiled the T100, Shih said it was a natural successor to the Eee PC. Considering that the Eee PC changed the industry by providing solid mobile computing for just $399, the $349 Transformer Book also has the potential to make its mark on the computing landscape. We look forward to testing the device thoroughly before it launches on October 18th.