ASUS Transformer Book T100HA 10.1″ 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop

Price: from 184$ to 214$
  • Article: ASUS Transformer Book T100HA 10.1" 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop - Intel Atom Cherry Trail x5-Z8500, 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD, Windows 10 - Gray (Certified Refurbished) laptop
  • Type: Work laptop
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • CPU: Intel Atom
  • CPU frequency: 1.50 Ghz
  • Diagonal display: 10.1 Inch
  • Display Resolution: 1280x1024 pixels
  • Type of hard disk: SSD
  • Hard disk size: 32 GB
  • Touchscreen: Yes

If it's broke, keep trying to fix it. That seems to be Asus’ policy in making a workable 2-in-1 tablet/laptop device, if the the latest Transformer is anything to go by. Here's our Asus Transformer T100HA review

ASUS TRANSFORMER T100HA REVIEW

The Transformer T100HA is a Windows tablet much like the Microsoft Surface 3, but it comes with a keyboard and costs considerably less. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.

Asus has been making 'transformer' devices as it calls them for several years. The story of the T100HA is similar to the T100 Chi incarnation we reviewed last June – a budget 10in Windows tablet with click-on keyboard that turns it into something like a laptop. The keys are exceptionally small, making typing difficult.

ASUS TRANSFORMER T100HA REVIEW: PRICE

Originally the T100HA cost £349, but retailers were quick to discount from the RRP. Argos is currently selling the blue T100HA for £249.99. You can buy the grey version of the T100HA from Amazon for the same price.

ASUS TRANSFORMER T100HA REVIEW: PERFORMANCE

Don’t be fooled by the advertising. ‘Outstanding Performance... powered by the latest quad-core Intel Cherry Trail processor, so it not only breezes through everyday tasks, it also delivers faster-than-ever graphics - up to twice as fast as previous generations.’

The previous Chi managed 18fps in Batman at lowest detail and limited 1280x720 resolution. This T100HA instead averaged 19fps, leaving it equally useless for action gaming, not that gaming is likely to be a priority with such a device.

To give it usable battery life in Windows, an underpowered processor is fitted, the Intel Atom x5-Z8500. This new 1.44GHz chip is quad-core, backed with 2GB memory. In Geekbench it proved faster than an iPhone 5s, multi-core; but far slower in more typical single-core operation (3095 vs 2532 points; and 948 vs 1406 points).

PCMark reported a better score than previous version, rising from a desultory 1223 points in Home unit, to 1338. Any score below 2000 points is cause for concern.

Battery runtime was better than most Windows laptops – 11 hr 38 min in the Wi-Fi video test. But should it run flat it’ll take about as long to recharge. From a flat battery, it took 45 mins before it would even start. And thereafter around 12 hours to reach full charge.

ASUS TRANSFORMER T100HA REVIEW: FEATURES AND DESIGN

Like all convertibles, the T100HA is hamstrung as a laptop, and poorly balanced thanks to the rearward mass of the tablet screen. The inkling to fit a touchscreen overrode the necessity of readability, and again the screen is too reflective. Screen rake has some adjustment though.

For storage it uses an eMMC card, as fitted to phones, rather than a laptop SATA drive. It’s a sluggish solution, and in our testing we found the Asus terminally slow in daily tasks. One time it took six or seven clicks of the File Explorer icon to launch. Thirty seconds later, six windows opened at once. Another time we disovered a new Windows message not encountered before – ‘working on it...’ – to at least let us know something was ticking under the bonnet.

Asus has addressed one deal-breaker fault from before, Bluetooth to connect tablet and keyboard. The T100HA has electrical connection in the hinge, so you’re not left waiting for re-pairs each time you type. There’s no hassle to recharge the battery-less keyboard either.

We did find problems with the fiddly power button. It once failed to boot up with USB power attached, despite a full battery. Pulling the power fixed this.

Another problem was a frozen cursor from dead trackpad. A complete reboot fixed this. We also noticed while sat on the desk like a laptop, it could spontaneously switch the screen into sideways portrait mode.

The display has lower resolution now, down from 1920x1080 to 1280x800 pixels. An excellent contrast ratio up to 830:1 makes this IPS screen stand out, even if colour gamut is down at 78 percent sRGB. An average Delta E of just 1.08 is commendable.

OUR VERDICT

The new processor is as slow as before but increased economy let it provide a further hour of tortoise operation. Windows is no more compelling on a tablet than it was with previous Transformers, leaving us a slow and unreliable 10in laptop, weighing little over a kilo and with a pretty IPS screen.

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Few laptops get to be brands. But Asus' Transformer is a brand in itself, having been around since 2011, when it was a ground-breaking design. The concept of all the computer's brains being carried in the screen was truly innovative, and the removable keyboard was a neat trick too.

The world has changed since 2011, and now tablet-laptops are ten a penny. Even Asus does three different versions of the Transformer, of which this is by far the cheapest – the Chi is an ultrathin version and the Flip is a rotating variant. The biggest competitor of course are Microsoft's Surface Pro PCs, which follow the Transformer's model exactly, but with a much higher level of quality. Similarly, put a keyboard stand on the latest iPad and you have another competitor – though this device is actually closer to the Kindle Fire in terms of size and performance.

That reflects the fact that the T100 models are the smallest of the Transformer line-up at a diminutive 10-inches wide. They've also moved on and are no longer the flagship product they once were – as can be seen by the low resolution screen, poor SSD substitute and slow processor. But perhaps all this could come together to be more than the sum of its parts?

Design

The tablet is fine to look at, with a wide glossy black bezel around the small screen, and its exterior is pleasantly cool to the touch. We were supplied with the least interesting colour available, the bolt gun-metal version, and we can safely say that we'd never pick anything this dull. If you're going to buy this machine, make sure you get one in a more effervescent colour such as off-white, pastel blue or electric pink.

The keyboard matches the tablet design, with a smoothly curved lip that makes it seem thinner than it actually is. However, despite being nearly the same weight as the tablet itself, it's construction is much flimsier – and I didn't find it great for typing on, with the construction too narrow and bouncy for my mighty meat-paws.

I also had repeated problems with the touchpad's clicking and buttons, in which I had to hit the same spot multiple times before it would register. As we always say though, you need to try a laptop keyboard yourself before buying – it's one of those areas where everyone's experience is different.

The two distinct elements are joined by three separate ports that clip together quickly and easily, without much force or manoeuvring. When in place, it's a solid connection which seems like it could take some punishment without breaking apart – the hinge is cunningly built into the keyboard itself, so the ports aren't taking the strain. Despite that, the tablet itself is heavier than the keyboard, so has a tendency to fall over – making it awful when typing on your lap, for example.

The tablet is obviously no iPad Air, presenting a chunkier profile from both front and side-on. Asus marketing claims that the "T100HA (is) super-slim but strong enough to shrug off hard knocks and scrapes that come with a hectic on-the-go lifestyle". It does look like it could take a whack or two – but we weren't tempted to try that proposition out.

We noted the aluminium lid looked pretty scratch-proof, but after a ride in a bag around London for the day, it had a couple of marks that we couldn't polish or buff out. Despite that, the underlying frame seems extremely rugged.

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