From time to time I take a walk to some big supermarket or mall just to acquaint myself with what’s latest in the TV, music system, computer and smartphone worlds, and that’s how three Fridays ago I found myself idling at TRM Text Book Center to window shop for any latest layman oriented theoretical physics text; and I noticed they no longer just sell books, they also deal in laptops, tablets and hybrids. According to information I got from their website, they also sell:
PCs, computer’s – desktops, printers, scanners, photocopiers, paper – shredders and other office equipment and supplies.
… Rexel staplers, shredders, over-head projectors, Bantex box files, Staedtler pencils, Faber Castell technical instruments, Pidilite, Camlin, Windsor & Newton and Marie’s art materials, Oxford Mathematical sets from Helix, Omega office and technical instruments…
While window shopping I noticed this Asus Transformer Book T100 and I was tempted to touch it, and I did. First I was confused a bit, the desktop interface looked like my Lumia device but when I touched the Desktop tile the desktop transformed from the phone’s interface to the interface I am familiar with on my Windows 7 laptop (remember Windows 8 and 8.1 has this tiled interface, which apparently can be transformed back to Windows 7 interface).
A sales lady approached me and asked if I am interested in the tablet. “This is a tablet?” I asked. “It’s kind of both a tablet and a laptop – primarily it is laptop as it runs on the fully fledged Windows 8.1 for PCs”, she politely replied. “Why did you call it a tablet then? Seeing it has a keyboard?” I asked.
“That’s why it is called Asus Transformer Book”, she explained while detaching the screen from the keyboard “You can always use it without the keyboard”.
Since Microsoft introduced its first Microsoft Surface back in 2012 I have always wanted to own a laptop/tablet convertible to replace my very huge HP Pavilion dv6 that is now outdated given the current minimum hardware specs needed in modern PCs, and so I went back home, organized my finances and two weeks later I bought it online via our link up there (by the time of writing this article we were also running a banner for the same). After a few days of use, this is the review.
First things first, the following are the specs of the Asus Transformer Book T100 as listed in TBC’s website:
- Processor Quad core Intel® Atom™ processor (Z3740 1.33 GHz)*
- Operating System Windows 8.1 with MS Office Home & Student 2013
- Main Memory 2GB DDR3
- Storage 32GB eMMC with ASUS WebStorage
- 32GB eMMC + 500GB HDD with ASUS Webstorage
- 64GB eMMC with ASUS Webstorage
- Display 10.1″ HD (1366*768) IPS with multi-touch
- Graphics Intel HD Graphics
- Camera 1.2Mp camera
- Micro HDMI, Micro SD card reader,*
- Battery 31Whr (11 hrs)
- Dimensions Tablet: 10.4” x 6.7” x 0.41”
- Weight: Tablet only: 544 grams, Tablet with Keyboard: 1088 grams,*
* Italics = added content.
Price: KES 46,000. If you purchase it online and you live within Nairobi then you’ll get free delivery within 24 hours. Those outside Nairobi can wait up to 48 hours and pay a little extra for delivery.
Let’s get over with the bad first and leave the juicy stuff for the last. As I mentioned above, I want to test the Asus Transformer Book T100 to determine whether it can replace my HP Pavilion dv6 – far from it, it doesn’t even come close in performance and ordinary work comfortability.
For a fully fledged work station, I realized that I need a computer that has a minimum of 4GB RAM and processor speed of 4.4 GHz as these are the specs the pavilion has got me used to. The size of the work station should also be reasonable big to accommodate viewing comfortability and ease in typing. I am an all fingers first typist and a device that won’t allow me to comfortably place all my fingers on the keyboard is a no no.
I have however seen a number of people especially ladies use small sized ultrabooks in their office work stations and although I have always wondered how they manage to use such small comps, I haven’t heard any complains about their small sizes.
The low rated processor and small RAM also means you may not be able to run heavy programs/apps or browse so many web pages simultaneously as the transformer book will likely hang midway.
Although at some point I thought it was easier to use the transformer book without the keyboard but in a portrait orientation, the fact that it lacks, or I was unable to use, predictive text slowed me down further. The feature is present under setting but even after I turned it on I didn’t see it in action. Carrying the screen/tablet for many hours was also problematic as tablets are generally heavier than smartphones, the Asus Transformer Book T100 weighs 544 grams without the keyboard.
The cons according to Engadget Review are:
- Cramped, flimsy keyboard
- Cheap build materials
- We wish the screen were brighter
From Engadget Review the good far outweigh the bad. They listed their pros as follows:
- Solid performance, long battery life
- Runs traditional desktop apps
- Screen offers good viewing angles
- Inexpensive, includes keyboard dock
- Almost no bloatware
But we are talking about my experience with the Asus Transformer T100. It is too bad the tablet/laptop hybrid isn’t meant to replace my HP pavilion work station, but the HP pavilion is way too bulky for trips. Whenever I want to travel with the laptop I always cringe – first the laptop occupies too much space in my travel bag and makes the bag twice or thrice as heavy than if it wasn’t part of the luggage.
This is where convertibles like Asus Transformer T100 come in. They are meant to allow you be able to do your daily computer work far from the work station especially when traveling for a quick event or for some vacation; they can provide productivity that ordinary tablets running on mobile OS can’t offer.There are those times you just wished you had full access to a desktop interface, or access the fully fledged desktop browsers for some web experience, or just work on an office document without the limited editing functionalities offered by mobile office apps.
These needs are what Asus Tranformer T100 seek to offer. As you can realize, you really do not need an expensive device add on device in addition to your already expensive notebook or laptop – or even desktop for that matter. As an add on, the device should be in a position to enable you do the same stuff whenever you find yourself away from your work station hence it should be relatively cheap.Most available convertibles including those by Microsoft, HP, Lenovo and even Asus itself are priced from 70K shillings and above, even though they are designed to offer the same away from work station functions.
As much as these high end convertibles are better in specs and build, their pricing at the same level as fully fledged laptops with the same specs really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
But for Shs 46K (less than half the price for some of the high end hybrids), you can get the neat Asus Transformer Book T100 add on, compromise a bit on comfortability (that you would compromise on even with the high end convertibles anyway), but get your work done even when on a quick trip.If for example the keyboard dock adds an extra weight for nothing, you can decide to leave it behind and work with the tablet alone. After all working with tablet alone but in portrait orientation is way better for me than trying to view the tiny screen some distance away and force myself to search for keys on the tiny keyboard simply because I can’t place all of my fingers on the keyboard (I don’t know off head how the keys are arranged on the keyboard – my fingers know).
One important trick you need to know
The first time I used the Asus Transformer Book T100 I got really mad, I could not seem to be able to close an app unless I used the task manager. This can be annoying given the low RAM and processor which means you are better off working with one app at a time. It reached a point when I had more than 10 Apps running in the background, the laptop hanged, and the only way I could get it back to function was to turn it off – but I was in the middle of something I couldn’t stop!
Then I discovered that what I needed to do, while still in the App I wanted to close, is to swipe from top to middle, hold the App for less than a second in the middle, then swipe down. What a trick – yet in the Asus manual they didn’t document that. That’s not even intuitive at all – I guess it is the problem with Windows, not Asus.
So, if you are looking for a low cost fully fledged PC that comes with a keyboard but can at the same time be used as a tablet, then Asus Transformer T100 it is.