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Asus Transformer Book T100 review

Verdict

Thanks to Intel’s new Atom CPU, the Transformer Book T100 delivers full Windows 8.1 in a tiny, affordable package – the netbook is back

Review Date: 22 Nov 2013

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £291 (£349 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £242
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

We were sad to see the netbook sink into obscurity, so it was with some pleasure that we unpacked Asus’ latest low-cost Windows device, the Transformer Book T100. Just like its Android-powered namesakes, the Transformer Book T100 partners a 10.1in tablet with a matching keyboard dock – the difference is that it has a quad-core Intel Atom processor and runs Windows 8.1. The big news, though, is that it costs only £349.

If your memories of netbooks are of chubby, miniaturised laptops with glacial performance, then be assured – this Asus is nothing of the sort. In the flesh, the Transformer Book T100 isn’t only surprisingly petite; it’s even moderately attractive. The dark-grey plastics of the base are imprinted with a fake brushed-metal finish, and the tablet’s glossy plastic lid mimics Asus’ top-flight Zenbooks with circular patterns spinning around the Asus logo.

On its own, the 10.1in tablet weighs a mere 550g, and measures 11mm thick, and while there isn’t the premium-feeling build quality of the best Android tablets, or Apple’s iPad Air, it isn’t unforgiveably low-rent. There is some give in the plastic rear when you press on it, but it feels solid enough in normal use. Slot it back into the keyboard base and the two latches hold it firmly, only letting go once the release catch on the hinge is pressed all the way in. Together, the pair weighs 1.07kg.

Blazing a trail

The Asus’ design is nothing revolutionary, but the hardware inside certainly is: it marks the debut of Intel’s latest Atom platform, Bay Trail. This is big news, and perhaps the biggest development for the Atom platform since its inception – Intel has promised dramatic performance improvements.

At the heart of Bay Trail lies the new 22nm Silvermont microarchitecture. This introduces a quad-core design and out-of-order execution, as well as support for USB 3, DDR3 RAM and 64-bit operating systems. Graphics performance promises to take a leap forwards, too, thanks to the presence of a cut-down Ivy Bridge-class GPU.

Asus Transformer Book T100

The Transformer Book T100 is powered by a mid-range Bay Trail CPU, the quad-core, 1.33GHz Atom Z3740, which is capable of running at burst frequencies of up to 1.86GHz. Although the Atom Z3740 supports up to 4GB of RAM, Asus has focused on keeping the Transformer Book T100 affordable – there’s a basic 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of eMMC flash storage. Nothing fancy, in other words.

In everyday use, however, the new face of Intel’s Atom brings as dramatic a transformation as you could hope for. Compared to our experiences of Windows 8 on the previous generation of devices (Atom Clover Trail), the Asus is a veritable speed demon. Applications load far more energetically; web browsing is slick and smooth; and the overall experience remains impressively responsive, right up to the point where the limitations of the 2GB of RAM start to show.

Full speed ahead

In benchmark testing, the Asus left Clover Trail-powered rivals far behind. Where the 1.8Ghz Atom Z2760 of the Dell Latitude 10 scored 0.22 in our Real World Benchmarks, the Asus racked up a result of 0.32, which is more than 45% faster. The biggest improvement was in the Media element of our benchmarks, which tests a device’s ability to encode MP3 files, render HD video and edit image files in Photoshop. Where the dual-core, Hyper-Threaded CPU in the Dell scored 0.18, the Asus’ quad-core CPU sped ahead with 0.35 – an improvement of 94%.

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User comments

No mention of...

how the touchscreen functions when in tablet mode, otherwise a stonking review. I for one very much welcome the return of netbook size device. Only tiny, tiny fly in the ointment shame there is not an option for a battery based base unit.

By davidk1962 on 23 Nov 2013

Product quality

I've had a really bad experience with the build quality of Asus netbooks - made worse by a distinct lack of responsiveness to customers from the company - so that I'd be tempted to go elsewhere.

By RMATT67 on 23 Nov 2013

Looks interesting but.....

Isn't 10" a bit small to be useable in the real world? That was my gripe with netbooks - everthing's just too small.

By PicardC on 24 Nov 2013

Looks interesting but.....

Isn't 10" a bit small to be useable in the real world? That was my gripe with netbooks - everthing's just too small.

By PicardC on 24 Nov 2013

@PicardC

For a bit of word processing on the go or some web surfing on the train, it should be fine.

I assume Windows 8 lets you increase the text size of menus etc. like previous versions (I've never used 8).

For DTP or a big Excel spreadsheet the screen size isn't ideal but for mobile computing it's fine.

By Alfresco on 24 Nov 2013

Only 32GB!

It's a pity, but Asus will not be importing the 64GB version to the UK. I asked them, and they were adamant that "the 32GB version is more popular amongst consumers" I'd prefer 64GB...

By PAS5DII on 25 Nov 2013

Only 32GB

It's a pity Asus will not be importing the 64GB version into the UK. I asked them, and they were adamant that "the 32GB version is more popular amongst consumers". I'd prefer the 64GB...

By PAS5DII on 25 Nov 2013

Sent mine back...

Had battery issues, where the maximum capacity dropped by 13% within a week. Also the sleep drain is far more than I'd expect - only with a few hours use I was having to recharge it every couple of days due to the "off" usage.

The keyboard is also poor to use (and, yes, I used to own a Netbook) and the touchpad click sounds very low quality.

Asus were awful in their support request with regard to my battery so I gave up speaking to them and sent it back to the retailer.

By DArtiss on 25 Nov 2013

Netbooks? Comeback?

They never went away, Notebooksbilliger.de and Amazon.de have been full to overflowing with various Acer, Asus, Samsung and other Netbooks over the last several years, although the processor often stretched from Atom through Celeron to Pentium D...

And apart from the Bay Trail processor, this Asus doesn't seem much different to the dozens different models of previous generation hybrid tablets. And the Clover Trail Atom isn't that bad, it certainly makes my Core i7 Mac feel sluggish at times!

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the new Bay Trail tablets, if their performance is really so much better, they will be well worth an upgrade.

By big_D on 25 Nov 2013

Useable storage

How much of the internal memory is available to install programs?

By henryg_1 on 25 Nov 2013

Free storage

not a lot.

Although that said, I've had my Samsung about 9 months and its 64GB is less than half full (I use Libraries on a 64GB microSD card for my media).

24GB is used, and that includes a couple of audio books (Audible), Windows, Office 365, Firefox and a few other Windows desktop applications and a dozen or so apps.

By big_D on 25 Nov 2013

@henryg_1

I didn't install very much before I realised I had 11GB remaining.

By DArtiss on 26 Nov 2013

Asus reliability

Some people have come on here to rubbish Asus. That isn't my experience.

I have a house full of Asus products, used hard for hours every day.
My Dell desktop was actually built by Asus. I have a 27" screen made by Asus. An i7 laptop. And, of course 2 Nexus 7s, also made by Asus.

I have had no reliability, usability or other problems with any of this. I broke the screen on the laptop but was able to get a new one fitted same day.

Having had Acer, Samsung and Apple products in the past, I can safely say Asus makes the best kit I've ever had. Highly recommended.

By PeterJohnston42 on 28 Nov 2013

Bought one :-)

As a Local Councillor I was struggling around with an HP notebook, an iPad mini and my phone in the bag alongside my (huge) works HP.

Having a proper PC to handle correspondence and access systems is a game changer! Always instantly on (a 12 hr day is a short one for me), with proper Office, plenty of "desktop". Another advantage it it charges from my phone adaptor.

It's rarely used in tablet and in my pocket is a Microsoft W8 BT Mouse, which makes it so much easier to use at my desk.

On the downside, the hinge connector is a bit dodgy (nothing a firm shove doesn't fix) and the touchpad takes a bit of getting used to. Very, very good value though!

By The_Architect on 28 Nov 2013

Can you downgrade it to Windfows 7?

I'm looking for a replacement for my trusty XP Samsung netbook, which I can just about cope with in my cycle bag. But I'm not sure I could make the leap straight to Windows 8.1 - so can this be turned back to Windows 7?

By ianbyrne on 28 Nov 2013

@ianbyrne

There's no Windows 7 downgrade included as standard.

You can almost certainly install Windows 7, but I have no idea whether you'd have any problems finding the necessary drivers. It might be relatively easy, or it might be a right pain - make sure you Google on the subject before taking the plunge.

I'd give Windows 8.1 a chance, though. It's not really that different from Windows 7, and is actually far better suited to a hybrid device like the T100. Pop into a PC World or John Lewis that has the T100 in stock and have a play - you might just like it.

By SashaMuller on 29 Nov 2013

PicardC

At least it has full size cursor keys....

The half height up/down cursor keys on my Acer 720 (2nd gen Chromebook) drives me absolutely nuts.

By PicardC on 30 Nov 2013

PicardC

The CNET review summary pretty much sums it up for me (the keyboard size is a deal breaker for me):-


"The good: The Asus Transformer Book T100 runs full Windows 8.1, comes with a keyboard, has great battery life, and is a steal if you can find it for $350.

The bad: The cramped keyboard feels like an old Netbook's used to; not as fast as zippier, larger, more expensive Windows products; display not that vibrant."

http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/asus-transformer-b
ook-t100/4505-3126_7-35827544.html

The bottom line: The Asus Transformer Book T100 revives the Netbook value proposition (and Netbook usability issues) in a budget-price 10-inch laptop that doubles as a tablet. You won’t love it, but for sheer bang for the buck, it’s hard to beat.

By PicardC on 30 Nov 2013

Martin GB

Microsoft Office is not included - it's pre-loaded with a free trial period

By gbrownmartin on 19 Dec 2013

@gbrownmartin

There's a printed serial key in the box.

By SashaMuller on 19 Dec 2013

Is it upgradable?

I see here
https://www.asus.com/Notebooks_Ultrabooks/ASUS_Tra
nsformer_Book_T100/#specifications
option with 500 GB HDD in addition to 64 GB SSD. Does it mean base configuration has space for additional HDD? (Maybe inside dock station?) And what about RAM? Can it be upgraded to 4 GB?

By Algen on 22 Dec 2013

Not ready for mass production!

I had mine 48 hours and reset it to factory defaults twice before returning it for a full refund. Keyboard and trackpad were intermittently working and after asus and windows updates the device would not turn on. It had a habit of turning itself on some 20 minutes later though only to repeatedly refreshing the start screen. Chrome was just a black screen with a white band down one side and the charms bar, although visible, would not allow interaction, ie, I couldn't turn it off without the hard on/off switch. I joined http://www.transformerforums.com/forum/asus-transf
ormer-book-t100/ forum and looks like I wasn't alone with these issues. I have 2 other Asus laptops which I'm pleased with and so feel that this one may well have been put into production in time for Christmas rather than because it was ready.

By gazard on 23 Dec 2013

Are Amazon scared of this device?

I need to return the T100 I bought from Amazon UK and they no longer stock it themselves. They point you to 3rd parties at £500+. I wonder if it was cannibalising their kindle HD sales. Anyway Currys have it on sale at £329 at the moment.

By mark_g on 5 Jan 2014

Are Amazon scared of this device?

I need to return the T100 I bought from Amazon UK and they no longer stock it themselves. They point you to 3rd parties at £500+. I wonder if it was cannibalising their kindle HD sales. Anyway Currys have it on sale at £329 at the moment.

By mark_g on 5 Jan 2014

Are Amazon scared of this device?

I need to return the T100 I bought from Amazon UK and they no longer stock it themselves. They point you to 3rd parties at £500+. I wonder if it was cannibalising their kindle HD sales. Anyway Currys have it on sale at £329 at the moment.

By mark_g on 5 Jan 2014

Fed up with Currys PC World

If I were you I would buy from somewhere else other than currys/pc world, they only want to push the insurance and sales, when you have a problem they are not interested, always making out that computers working fine and that its the operator that needs educating! So buyers beware go elswhere or buy on line if you want service avod currys pc world. John lewis gives a much better service

By susansoar on 15 Jan 2014

Had mine for a week, and am very happy...

I bought it primarily as a 10" tablet, considering the keyboard a huge bonus and usage bears that out...

i.e. I love it as a tablet, and finally Windows 8 makes sense. As a netbook, the keyboard and particularly the trackpad buttons are a bit limiting but still great to have - just wouldn't want it as my main PC.

The weak point in the spec compared with the iPad is the screen, but at 10" the 1368x768 resolution makes sense. And it's a cheap upgrade for a 64GB microSD card - try that on an iPad.

The metro version of OneNote is much improved (still needs work) but it's great to have the full-fat Office 2013 version on the desktop.

Battery life and performance is astoundingly good considering the size, weight and price of the device.

By Cantabrian on 17 Jan 2014

loved it but short lived

it packed up after less than a week - issue to be resolved - on/off switch not working and/or battery charge suspect

By EleanorS on 18 Jan 2014

Update First!

Bought this after reading the review here and I must say, have been very happy with it so far.
I would like to mention that it's well worth updating the bios and windows, as it seems many of the niggles mentioned with this device are sorted with these updates. The only slight niggle I have had is with the OS, especially the Windows Store failing to install apps, but that is a generic MS problem rather than a hardware glitch.
All in all, this is an excellent piece of kit for business and pleasure.

By Microcroft on 10 Feb 2014

would not recommend

Had to return the first one to the store Dec. 2013 due to problems with the touchpad. Second one has crashed and when I tried to return it in January the store wouldn't take it back. ASUS chat is a joke-sent me to a Windows 8 tutorial. So I hope they'll take it back, tho based on earlier comments re their lack of response I'm not holding out much hope. I may just have one expensive little paperweight here.

By Renee on 13 Feb 2014

Avoid unless you've got good insurance

I love the T100, but...
My screen cracked for no obvious reason within four weeks of purchase (although Asus say it suffered impact - well, they would, wouldn't they...)
Cost of T100: £350. Cost of screen repair £280. Do you think that's a risk worth taking?

By Chrisrw4 on 24 Feb 2014

Avoid unless you've got good insurance

I love the T100, but...
My screen cracked for no obvious reason within four weeks of purchase (although Asus say it suffered impact - well, they would, wouldn't they...)
Cost of T100: £350. Cost of screen repair £280. Do you think that's a risk worth taking?

By Chrisrw4 on 24 Feb 2014

Don't buy this computer - it is not durable.

My screen has also cracked after being well cared for in a padded case for 8 weeks. It was never abused, dropped or knocked. It cost £329.99 and John Lewis/Asus want £314 to repair. It has been a complete waste of money, time and a great inconvenience.

By cage9 on 4 Mar 2014

DO NOT BUY! Terrible durability/service

Like other comments here, screen cracked for no apparent reason (computer was closed and in a padded case). Digitizer broke so it is not usable. Lost data. Asus customer service is a joke...they couldn't care less and you will only get a runaround.

By FredericksburgVA on 18 May 2014

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