Asus Transformer Book T100 review

22 Nov 2013

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

Price when reviewed: 
349(£349 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

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%.

Details

Price ex VAT £291
Price inc VAT £349
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 263 x 178 (tablet, 171) x 24 (tablet,11mm) (WDH)
Weight 1.070kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom Z7340
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 32GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type touchpad, touchscreen
Audio chipset Realtek I2S
Speaker location tablet, bottom edge
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.2mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 8hr 49min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 20fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.32
Responsiveness score 0.44
Media score 0.35
Multitasking score 0.18

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8.1 32-bit
OS family Windows 8
Software supplied Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Student

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£272 £302
£278
£280
£300
£300
£300
£300
£304
£309
£309
£312
£324
£330